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Areca Palm Tree

Areca palm trees in the landsape.

The Areca Palm Tree, scientific name Chrysalidocarpus lutescens, is certainly one of the more popular palms in tropical and subtropical areas because of its gorgeous appearance and ease of care.  This palm tree can be grown indoors or outdoors. Make sure when you buy it that it was grown in either shade or sun, depending on your needs.

Areca Palm Tree Info

Scientific name: Chrysalidocarpus lutescens, Dypsis lutescens

Common names: The Areca Palm is also known as Butterfly Palm, Cane Palm, Madagascar Palm, Golden Feather Palm, and Yellow Palm.

Family: Arecaceae

Origin: The Areca Palm is native to the islands of Madagascar.

Appearance: The Areca Palm has smooth silver-green trunks, which are topped with arching feather shaped fronds. It grows in clusters forming think clumps of many stems.

There are usually around six to eight yellow-green leaves on long petioles curved upwards creating a butterfly look. That is why Areca Palm is often referred to as a Butterfly Palm. It has pinnate type leaves that can grow up to 5-7ft long. Each leaf has around 90-110 leaflets arranged in a V shape.

Mature palms have ringed cane-like trunks which have similar characteristics to the Bamboo Palm. The Areca Palm is also often called Golden Cane Palm because of the yellow colored petioles.

Growth Rate: Moderate. The Areca Palm is a moderate grower that can get up to 20ft tall. It will grow wider before taller.

Flowers/Fruits: During late spring or early summer, the Areca Palm produces small bright yellow flowers that grow from below the leaves. It has male and female flowers on the same inflorescence. After a few months of blooming, flowers are followed by light green to yellow fruits that turn yellow-orange when ripe. Fruits have oval shape and are around 1 inch in diameter. Although they look pretty, they are not edible.

Outdoor/Indoor Use: Both. The Areca Palm is very popular indoor plant that can also be used outdoors. It is great for creating a natural privacy wall or privacy fence.

Cold Tolerance: It can tolerate cold down to 20F when mature enough. Great for zones 9a (20 to 25 F) to 11 (above 40 F).

Light Req: Partial shade. Requires bright indirect light. When growing indoors, keep it within 5 to 8 feet from a sunny window. If put in too much direct light, the fronds may get burnt from the sunlight. When a frond becomes yellow or dead like in appearance, be sure to remove the entire frond.

Water Req: Heavy. The Areca Palm requires heavy watering; however, do not allow the plant to sit in water because this could lead to root rot. The Areca Palm Tree will wilt drastically if you allow the soil to dry out completely. On a good note, once you water it, the plant will stand back up.

This palm is extremely sensitive to salts and minerals, so if your home uses a water softener, use water from a source that does not go through the softener first, such as an outside faucet. As most tropical plants, an occasional misting will make your Areca Palm look and feel healthier.

Maintenance: Moderate. Apply good quality palm fertilizer that has continuous release formula twice a year during growing season. Chrysalidocarpus lutescens does not age well. When new, it has an upright appearance, but with time the new fronds become heavy and bent, and the plant spreads out.

Tips of the Areca Palm Tree may also turn brown, but don’t worry because browning tips of the palm are normal. One main area to beware of with this palm, is that you should only prune off dead branches. If you clip the browned tips you might stop the growth of that branch.

Insects and Diseases: A common pest to this plant is the spider mite. If the appearance of spider mites is present, try misting the plant twice daily with a soapy water mixture. If this does not work, go to your local plant or hardware store and try a professional grade pest remover. Overall this plant doesn’t require a great deal of attention to maintain its beautiful appearance.

Propagation: Areca palms are propagated from seed with approximately 50 seeds to an ounce. Viable seeds, soaked for 10 minutes in a solution of hot sulfuric acid, can be expected to germinate in about 6 weeks. Fresh seed, yellow to ripe, should be planted with the top of the seed barely visible and germination temperature maintained between 80 and 85°F.

Lower temperatures will increase germination time 100-200%. Seed storage at low humidity and low temperature is detrimental to germination. Cleaning seed is not essential if they are planted immediately. If seeds are to be stored, clean the yellow to fully ripened red seeds, air-dry them at 80-90%, treat with a seed protectant, and store at 75°F.