Huerto del Cura, Jardín Artístico Nacional

The Imperial Palm Tree

Palmeral-de-Elche-5This rare specimen of Palm Tree is the main reason for the popularity of the Huerto del Cura. Its name comes from the Empress Elisabeth of Austria (“Sissi”), to which Chaplain Castaño dedicated when she visited the orchard in 1894. A memory of this visit also lies in the bust of the Empress situated at the north wing of the Imperial Palm Tree.
The Imperial Palm Tree is approximately 165 years old. Far from being old, it is in its prime if we bear in mind that palm trees live without many problems for more than 200 years.

Its value as a botanical phenomenon lies in the fact that it deceives the laws of biology:

– The shoots of this specimen of palm tree generally develop at the base of the tree, when it is between 10 and 15 years old, however in this case they were formed when the father palm tree was more than 60 years old and at a very uncommon height of 2 metres, very far from the roots, where there is less sap.

– The palm tree has a large number of shoots (7) and has developed in perfection and symmetry.

– The children palm trees have acquired a colossal size after more than 130 years, feeding off the sap that comes from the central father palm tree.

Shortly before 1900, Chaplain Castaño set up a support to avoid that the weight of the children palm trees made them pull apart from the father palm tree. Currently, this formidable candelabra tree with 8 arms weighs more than 8 tons, measuring 17 metres in height. Some of the children palm trees have lost part of the harmony that they once had, but its grandeur and nobility remain indisputable.