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Distribution & Habitat:
It grows in forests of south-central, and south-east China on rocky slopes, between 1000–1500 m.
R. multifida is regarded as the most attractive of the Rhapis, being very similar to R. excelsa except that it is usually more elegant in appearance. It is slightly shorter, and has wider, paler green leaves with more and narrower leaflets that droop a little. The crown is also less dense.
It grows to about 2.0 metres tall with multiple stems to 10 mm in diameter. Canes are covered in fine light brown fibres that adhere closely to the trunks. Leaves are dark green and fairly thick textures, moderate in size up to 600 mm across, and divided into many narrow segments that are joined near the base. The two outer and one central leaflet segment being wider than the rest. Although twelve is cited in the literature it has been stated that this palm can have up to thirty six leaflets per leaf, but fifteen is the most I have counted. Inflorescence is inter-foliar, enclosed in tubular bracts, that are many branched. The branch-lets are covered in fine hairs. Fruits are rounded to oval, and are about 9 mm long.
It prefers a sheltered, wind free, shady position in constantly moist, well drained soil. Frost tolerant.
Heinz-Dieter Froehlingsdorf, (from Palms & Cycads No. 39, Apr-Jun 1993.)
Mike Gray (Figure 1&2)