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RAVENALA madagascariensis

Image of Ravenala madagascariensis

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Strelitziaceae

Botanical Name

RAVENALA madagascariensis

Plant Common Name

Traveller's Palm

General Description

Sometimes called the traveller’s palm, the traveller's tree is an exceptional, large, tropical, tree-like perennial. It is a unique plant closely related to the famous bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia reginae). It hails from the island of Madagascar off the coast of Africa.

The thick, unbranched, palm-like stem is topped by a flat-planed, fan-shaped crown of leathery, banana-like green leaves. The base of the leaf stems features a near perfect chevron pattern, this plant’s most valued feature. Water often collects in these leaf bases, reputed to quench the thirst of jungle travellers.

Traveller's tree does not bloom until near maturity when it produces spathes, which are semi-woody enclosures and stems for the soft white flowers. A few flowers open at a time all summer long but are not particularly beautiful. In fact, they can spoil the beauty of this plant’s geometry and are sometimes cut off when they first appear. This long-lived ornamental is most often grown as a single specimen due to its size and dramatic appearance. It is easy to grow where the frost-free climate is adequately mild and moist. Protect from wind as the leaves will shred and not look as majestic.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    30'-40' / 9.1m - 12.2m

  • Width

    25'-30' / 7.6m - 9.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer

  • Native To

    Madagascar

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Arching/Fountain-shaped

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • 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, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No