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Caryota

Fishtail Palm
Arecaceae (Palmae)
Palms and cycads

These Southeast Asian natives are feather palms with huge, finely divided leaves made up of leaflets flattened and split at tips like fish tails. Plant in humus-rich soil that provides good drainage. Individual trunks die after flowering, which may not occur for 20 to 25 years.

Caryota mitis (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Caryota mitis (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Caryota mitis

Slow grower to 10–40 ft. tall, spreading to 10–22 ft. Basal offshoots eventually form clustered trunks. Foliage is light green. Very tender; thrives only in ideal environments.

Caryota ochlandra
Caryota ochlandra

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Caryota ochlandra

Southeast Asia. Will probably reach 25 ft. and spread half as wide. Medium dark green leaves. It has survived to 26°F/–3°C.

Caryota urens

Handsome single-stemmed palm grows to 50 ft. tall and 15 ft. wide in Southern California. A hardy, high-mountain selection, it is reported to withstand 20°F/–7°C once established. Arching, dark green leaves. Avoid handling fruit with bare hands; invisible crystals can cause severe itching.

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