Palmito, Chamaerops humilis

Chamaerops humilis

El Chamaerops humilis, one of the two species native to Spain together with the Phoenix canariensisIt is a very decorative and very resistant medium-sized multicaule palm tree. It is grown in all temperate climate regions, and in all types of gardens, including small ones.

It is a very beloved plant, which has several very interesting uses, and which looks great wherever it is placed.

Characteristics of the Chamaerops humilis

Chamaerops humilis leaf

Our protagonist, known by the popular names of margallón (or margalló in Catalan), palmetto or dwarf palm, belongs to the botanical family Arecaceae. It is native to the Balearic Islands, where it can be found especially in the Sierra de Tramuntana, in Mallorca. It grows to a height of about 4m (although it can reach 10 as we will see below), with palmate leaves divided into many leaflets -from 24 to 32-, and they are usually green or bluish depending on the variety. Petioles usually have straight spines up to 3cm long, yellow in color.

It is a kind dioecious, that is, there are male feet and female feet. The flowers appear grouped in inflorescences between the leaves, and produce fleshy, round-shaped fruits, reddish or blackish when they finish maturing, towards autumn.

There are three main varieties, which are:

  • Volcano: the underside of the leaves is glaucous, its leaflets are wider, and it has no spines.
  • Silver plated: blue leaves, with a tendency to take out basal shoots.
  • cerifera: they call it the »Blue Palmito», because of the bluish-glaucous color of its leaves.

How is the margallón cared for?

Chamaerops humilis var. silver

Chamaerops humilis var. silver

Now that you know its characteristics, surely you will be interested in knowing how to take care of it, right? Below we will explain in detail the care it requires to grow healthy:


Place your palm in the Exterior, preferably in a sunny area or in semi-shade (where it has more light than shade).

Supports up to -10ºC.


If it is in a pot it has to be frecuente, watering up to 3 times a week in the warmer months. On the other hand, if it is kept in the garden, it will only have to be watered so often during the first year; From the second onwards, the risks can be spread out.


Whether you want to plant in the ground or change pot, you have to do it in spring, after the risk of frost has passed.

Soil or substrate

It grows in all types of soils, although it vegetates better in those that have good drainage. If the soil has a tendency to compact, you can mix it with pearlite or clay balls to allow the roots to develop properly.

If you have it in a pot, you can use universal growing medium mixed with 30% perlite.


It is highly advisable to pay during the spring and summer months. Use a specific fertilizer for palm trees, or liquid organic fertilizers, since the root system will absorb them faster and their effects will be noticeable in a matter of a few days.


It is not necessary to prune the palm. Only wilted leaves and inflorescences have to be removed to avoid pests.

Plagues and diseases

Red weevil

Rhinchophorus ferrugineus (red weevil)

Although the margallón is a very resistant palm, which does not usually have any problem, it has three enemies that it shares with all the plants of its botanical family, and they are: Red weevil, paysandisia archon, and the mushrooms, among them the Phytophthora.

Red weevil

This is a weevil (an insect similar to a beetle, but more elongated) whose larvae they use the fibers of the palm tree to protect themselves as they become adults. Thus, immediately the plant turns yellow and dies.

The first symptom that we will see are:

  • The plant will stop growing.
  • It can come to bloom out of time.
  • The leaves turn yellow and dry quickly.
  • We can see the fibers with the naked eye.

The most effective treatment is with Imidacloprid one month, and the next with Chlorpyrifos. It should be treated in spring and summer. Anyway, you should know that there are other treatments, as we tell you in this Another item.

paysandisia archon

The adult specimens do not cause any damage, but their caterpillars do, which can excavate galleries up to 1m in length on the trunk. They feed on the tender shoots of the palm tree.

The symptom that we will see are:

  • Arch of the palm tree's eye.
  • Appearance of exit holes in the trunk.
  • Leaves with fan-shaped holes.

The treatment is the same as in the case of the weevil. It is also recommended to water by directing the hose to the eye of the plants during the warm months; thus the caterpillars will drown.


Although they are not common, if we water excessively or if the soil does not have good drainage, the roots rot and the plant dies of fungi. To know if our palm tree is sick, there is something we can do and it is take the newer blade and gently pull it up. If it comes out easily, it is because you have unfortunately had a fungal attack.

These fungus enemies quickly attack these types of plants. Normally, when the first symptoms are detected, such as yellow leaves or growth arrest, it is usually late. Therefore, excess watering should be avoided, and it is also highly advisable to do preventive treatments with copper or sulfur in spring and fall.


Chamaerops humilis seeds

To have new copies, you can sow your seeds in spring. You have to clean the fruits well, place them in a glass of water for 24 hours, and then in a plastic bag with a hermetic seal that you will have filled with moistened vermiculite.

They will germinate in 10 days at a temperature between 20 and 30ºC.

Uses of heart of palm

This precious palm is cultivated for its ornamental value, but also for its fruits and its bud, which are groceries. In North Africa, its roots are also eaten, as they are high in sugar.


Palm of Goethe

Did you know that hearts of palm can live for several centuries? In fact, in Padua (Italy) lives a specimen that was sown around 1585. It is called "La palma di Goethe", and it is located in a special greenhouse at the North Gate. Currently its stems measure 10 meters. An impressive height for this species.

El Chamaerops humilis It is a palm tree that looks great in any garden. Do you have any? 🙂

4 comments, leave yours

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  1.   Noemi said

    Thank you very much for this clear and illustrative post. I have a heart of palm in Mallorca and I've been looking for a solution for foliar spots for months. In fact, one of them has already died and since then the other has not made any fruit either. I just discovered that there are male feet and female feet !! so I have one "widower" ...

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Noemi.
      You may have atrachnosis. I recommend treating it with a fungicide (for fungi).

  2.   Marieta said

    I have one in a big pot in the garden. He is 40 years old, he is about two meters tall and he would like to know if his fruits are edible or are they useful for something. I remove them so as not to detract from the plant.
    Thank you,

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Marieta.

      You don't need to remove them. The palm tree is prepared to produce fruit, since, in fact, one of its main functions is to 'create' a new generation, to have descendants go.

      The fruits are edible, yes.