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GWAA

The Garden Writers Association


Last Update 03/20/11
Plant of the Month

 Chrysalidocarpus lutescens

 Areca or Butterfly Palm

Areca or Butterfly Palms are widely planted throughout sub-tropical and tropical climates and make wonderful wind, sound and privacy screens. Of the tribe Areceae, and subfamily Arecoideae it is also known by the botanic name Chrysalidocarpus lutescens. It grows quickly and is often grown as a shrub or hedge.  Areca palms are native to Madagascar.

Areca or Butterfly Palm, click image to enlarge
Areca Palm makes a great screening hedge. Click image to enlarge.

 

 

Areca Palm Fronds. Click image to enlarge.
Areca Palm fronds.
Click image to enlarge.

Plant Facts:

Common Name:  Areca Palm or Butterfly Palm

Botanical Name:  Chrysalidocarpus lutescens

Subfamily:  Arecoideae

Plant Type:  Clustering Palm Tree

Origin: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

Zones: 10 - 11

Height:  20'

Rate of Growth: Quick

Salt Tolerance: Moderate

Soil Requirements:  Widely adaptable

Water Requirements: High drought tolerance

Nutritional Requirements: High, subject to potassium deficiency.

Light Requirements: Moderate, high light

Form:  Clumping palm

Leaves:  Pinnately compound, reduplicate, with 80-100 leaflets held in a "V".  Color -- Medium Green to Bronze.  8' long; leaflets 1.5-2"  long, 1.5" wide.

Inflorescence: 3' long, borne below the leaves, few branching, drooping, yellow-gold flowers are very attractive to bees

Fruits: Yellow

Pests or diseases:  Ganoderma, phytophthora bud rot, gliocladium blight, caterpillars, mealybugs, banana moth

Uses:  Hedge or specimen plant

Bad Habits: Foliage usually marred by nutritional deficiencies on soils with low fertility. May attract IO and Saddle-back caterpillars which do not defoliate the plant, but cause painful stings when touched, i.e. when trimming or removing dead fronds.

Cost:  $$ -- reasonable

Propagation:   Seed, germinates in 2 months or less when fresh, division.

Source:  Betrocks Guide to Landscape Palms, AMERICAN HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY A-Z ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GARDEN PLANTS

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