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CARYOTA mitis

Image of Caryota mitis

Forest & Kim Starr

Family

Arecaceae

Botanical Name

CARYOTA mitis

Plant Common Name

Burmese Fishtail Palm, Fishtail Palm

General Description

Named for the unusual shape of its leaf segments, this small to medium-sized, clump-forming palm from Indian to Southeast Asia is grown for its lush immense fronds. Its stems are monocarpic, each individual trunk dying after flowering and fruiting.

The enormous, arching, evergreen fronds are borne atop slender gray trunks laced with black hairy fibers. Each frond comprises numerous broad, somewhat triangular, rich green leaflets, borne in two ranks along a midrib (or "rachis"). The leaflets have fringed tattered tips, reminiscent of a fish's tail. The fronds are held on long leaf stems ("petioles"), whose bases remain attached to the trunk for several years after the leaves drop. Older trunks may produce chains of purplish flowers in cascading tentacle-like clusters. Flowering continues for a year or more, with inflorescences emerging sequentially from top to bottom of the trunk. Inflorescences contain both male and female flowers, the latter giving rise to round purple fruits that resemble small grapes. Birds consume the fruits. The fruits contain caustic compounds that can cause skin damage and pose other risks (http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Caryomi.htm). Trunks die after fruiting, but others grow to take their place.

Grow this palm in partial shade in moist, humus-rich, slightly acidic soil. It will tolerate full sun if given adequate water and shelter from wind. It endures a degree or two of frost. Use it as a dense hedge or screen or as a lush backdrop for a tropicalesque mixed border. It is lovely clumped in a lawn, provided dead trunks and wayward shoots are removed.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Palm or Cycad

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade

  • Height

    20'-30' / 6.1m - 9.1m

  • Width

    10'-15' / 3.0m - 4.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia, India

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Purple, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Purple

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Light Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Light Green, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Hedges, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes