Beaucarnea recurvata (elephant's foot, ponytail palm) is a species of plant in the family Asparagaceae, native to the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz and San Luis Potosí in eastern Mexico. Despite its common name, it is not closely related to the true palms (Arecaceae). It was discovered in Mexico by a Frenchman in 1870, becoming popular in Europe and worldwide as an ornamental plant. There are 350 year-old Beaucarneas registered in Mexico.
It is an evergreen perennial growing to 15 feet 6 inches (4.72 m) with a noticeable expanded caudex, for the purpose of storing water inside. The single palm-like stem produces terminal tufts of strap-shaped, recurved leathery leaves, sometimes hair lock-shaped in the ends, and with occasional panicles of small white flowers once the plant reaches over 10 years of age. There are 10 different species of this plant, according to the Institute of Ecology in Xalapa, state of Veracruz, which runs the Jardín Botánico Francisco Javier Clavijero botanical garden, where over 400 Beaucarneas are exhibited and more are grown in greenhouses for conservation purposes, in the "Colección Nacional de Beaucarneas" (Beaucarneas National Collection). 
Cultivation and care
B. recurvata is often grown as a houseplant or outdoor plant in temperate climate gardens. It is hardy to −5 °C (23 °F), and grows in full sun to light shade. It needs a proper soil mix to drain when watered, and must never be over-watered or mudded, as this will foster pests like the mealybug and cochineal insect. It cannot resist cold temperatures so it must be an indoor plant in countries with strong winters. When repotted it must keep all its roots. To maintain its original shape, the ends of its leaves should not be snipped. It is very slow-growing and drought-tolerant. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
- "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved May 16, 2014.
- Irish, Gary (2000). Agaves, Yuccas, and Related Plants: A Gardener's Guide. Timber Press. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-88192-442-8.
- Instituto de Ecología A.C. video files, Mexico
- http://hdl.handle.net/10045/8837 Armando Contreras, María Luisa Osorio, Miguel Equihua et al. (2008) Conservación y Aprovechamiento de Beaucarnea recurvata, Especie Forestal no Maderable, 7. In Cuadernos de Biodiversidad.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Beaucarnea recurvata". Retrieved 27 June 2013.
A Ponytail Palm growing outdoors at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Florida.
A small Ponytail Palm in Homestead, Florida.
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