Common Names: ribbon fan palm, Weeping Cabbage Palm
Family: Arecacea/Palmae (palm Family)
Palm Drought Tolerant Can be Grown in Containers Has evergreen
foliage Has Unusual or Interesting Foliage
Tall and slender this palm is a graceful beauty. The symmetrical
crown is nearly spherical and held atop an arrow-straight trunk that
will typically reach heights of 30 feet. The costapalmate leaves
grow up to 9 ft (2.7 m) wide and are held on 6 ft (1.8 m) stems.
Costapalmate means that the leaves are midway between palmate
(shaped like the palm of your hand) and pinnate (feather-shaped.)
Livistona decipiens has narrow folded segments 5-6 ft (1.5-1.8m) in
length that are 0.75 in (1.9 cm). About 80 of these segments radiate
out from the stem to hang like delicate ribbons toward the ground
inspiring this plant's common name "ribbon fan palm". Flowers are
yellow and are borne on a 4 ft (1.2 m) inflorescence that is hidden
among the leaves. The small black fruit is about 1/2 in (1.3 cm) in
Livistona decipiens, the ribbon fan palm, is native to the east
coast of Queensland, Australia. It's graceful form and robust nature
have earned this palm a place in tropical and sub-tropical
landscapes around the world.
Ribbon fan palm happily adapts to many types of soil except those
that are wet and soggy.
Light: Will thrive in part shade to bright sunny exposures.
Moisture: Drought tolerant but young palms will need watering until
Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 11. I have had one of these palms growing
in my Zone 8B garden for the past 8 years. Even though it is still
very small it seems to be able to handle temperatures to about 20°F
(-6.7°C) with no problem. In January 1999 the temperature fell to
16°F (-8.9°C) (one night, the leaves were not burned but fungus
attacked and rotted out the bud. When this happened a few years ago
I was able to save the plant with applications of fungicide and
Propagation: By seed. Plant seeds 1/4 in (0.6 cm) deep and keep
moist, they will germinate in 4 to 10 weeks.
Jack planted a seedling ribbon fan palm among his camellias where it
has thrived. Ten years later it is 7 ft (2.1 m) tall, growth rate
has accelerated and it is now beginning to form a trunk.
Ribbon fan palm is an asset to any landscape. Plant where it's
delicate leaves will not be shredded by prevailing winds. Plant in
an opening among trees or up against a wall or structure that can
serve as a backdrop so that it's lovely form may be appreciated.
Small specimens do well in containers and grow rapidly enough to
provide satisfaction to impatient gardeners.
Attractive and tough, graceful and durable, consider adding this
drought tolerant palm to your warm area landscape. Those gardening
in colder zones should consider enjoying this palm as a container
plant - it's easy to grow indoors if you have a bright area for it
to share. You can obtain palms in Florida and other warm areas from
nurseries specializing in palms. There are also several mail order
nurseries that will ship young specimens to you.