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Publication #FOR 247

Dypsis lutescens, Areca Palm1

Melissa H. Friedman, Michael G. Andreu, Heather V. Quintana, and Mary McKenzie2

Family

Arecaceae, palm family.

Genus

The history behind the genus name Dypsis is unknown.

Species

The species name lutescens is the Latin term for "growing yellow," and it alludes to this palm's yellow petioles or stems.

Common Names

areca palm, golden cane palm, yellow bamboo palm

Years of widespread cultivation have earned this palm numerous common names. While areca means "tender palm," it is unclear to what this name refers. Most of its other common names likely came from physiological characteristics, such as the yellow color of its plant parts, which results from high sun exposure or nutrient deficiencies, and the cane- or bamboo-like appearance of its stems.

Description

Areca palm is endemic to eastern Madagascar, where it is endangered due to the loss of its natural habitat in open areas of hydric forests and along riverbanks. In Florida and throughout the United States, areca palm is a common landscape plant that survives best where the average annual low temperature ranges from 35 to 40°F. This palm typically grows to between 20 to 35 feet tall and has a crown spread of 10 to 20 feet. It can tolerate full sun to partial shade and grows best in well-drained soils where it has access to plenty of water. The yellowish-green to dark green leaves or fronds are pinnately compound, grow between 6 to 8 feet in length, and are ovoid in shape. Leaflets are 2 feet long, lance shaped, and create a distinct "V" shape on the leaf because they grow in opposite directions from one another along the center of the orange to light green rachis. The trunk of this palm is multi-stemmed, and each stem is 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Tightly packed rings or leaf scars extend the length of the trunk, and they range in color from orange and yellow to dark green, with lighter colors resulting from greater sun exposure. Branching, yellow flower stalks emerge from below the leaves and droop downward. Each fruit is approximately 1 inch long and shaped like an egg, and the fruit turns from yellow to dark purple or black as it matures.

Figure 1. 

A cultivar of Dypsis lutescens growing outside at a botanical garden in Thailand.


Credit:

Scott Zona, CC BY 2.0


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Applications

Horticultural

This palm is grown indoors or outdoors. When grown outdoors, it can accent the landscape or make a great natural fence. In general, it should be planted during the summer rainy season to allow its roots to fully establish and its fronds to branch out. When used for accent, areca palms can be planted in clusters and the lower fronds pruned to show the attractive stems, as well as to prevent fungus or insect infestations. These palms may also be planted in clusters that are spaced 10 feet apart. Eventually, the clusters will create a screen as the palms grow and their fronds spread out horizontally. Some horticultural experts recommend fertilizing the palm regularly to keep it green; however, yellowing is a natural feature of this plant and can be regulated somewhat with shading.

Figure 2. 

A cultivar of Dypsis lutescens being grown in containers under shade cloth at a nursery.


Credit:

Scott Zona, CC BY 2.0


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

References

Coombes, A. 1994. Dictionary of plant names: Botanical names and their common name equivalents. Portland, OR: Timber Press.

Floridata.com. 2008. Dypsis lutescens, Retrieved from http://www.floridata.com/ref/D/dyps_lut.cfm

MacCubbin, T. 2005. Month-by-month gardening in Florida: What to do each month to have a beautiful garden all year (Revised ed.). Franklin, TN: Cool Springs Press.

Riffle, R. L. and P. Craft. 2003. An encyclopedia of cultivated palms. Portland, OR: Timber Press, Inc.

Rushing, F. 2005. Tough plants for Florida gardens: Low care, no care, tried and true winners. Franklin, TN: Cool Springs Press.

MacCubbin, T. and G. B. Tasker. 2002. Florida gardener's guide (Revised ed.). Nashville, TN: Cool Springs Press.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FOR 247, one of a series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date May 2010. Reviewed April 2013. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Melissa H. Friedman, former biological scientist, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, IFAS, University of Florida, Plant City Center; Michael G. Andreu, associate professor of forest systems, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; Heather V. Quintana, former research assistant, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, and Mary McKenzie, former research assistant, School of Forest Resources and Conservation


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.