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Clustering Fishtail Palm
Warm temperate to tropical areas. Can tolerate light frosts.
Tropical rainforests from India through to south-east Asia.
This is a clustering palm, which can form a clump up to 8 metres (24 feet) high and 4 metres (12 feet) across at the top. The trunks are about 150 mm (6ins) across, are light green/grayish colour with quite widely spaced leaf nodes. Each trunk produces flowers for several seasons, starting from the top of the trunk and moving downwards, but then dies after its final seeding. The leaves are light green, bipinnate, and triangular, closely resembling a fishes tail in shape. The leaves don't absciss when spent, but they are easily removed due to the palms size. The flowers are pale cream, while the fruit are reddish-orange, 10 - 20mm (3/8 - 3/4in) long. Note: The fruit contain crystal oxalate which is an irritant to eyes and skin.
This attractive palm prefers a shaded, well drained position. It doesn't like full sun and being tropical, it also doesn't like to get too dry. It is a very usefull and attractive plant for the gardener, its leaf colour and shape making it quite distinctive. Propagation is by seed which usually takes 3 - 4 months to germinate.
Michael Gray (Figure 1&2)
Ian Edwards (Figure 3,4&5)