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Dypsis lutescens: Yellow Butterfly Palm

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein and Deborah R. Hilbert


This graceful, clump-growing palm reaches 20 to 30 feet in height with a spread of 8 to 10 feet. The gently arching, 4- to 6-inch-wide, ringed, bamboo-like, green, multiple trunks are topped with curved, feathery, yellow-green fronds. Known under a variety of names, this beautiful soft palm is quite valued throughout the tropics and is widely planted in frost-free areas. The small, white, inconspicuous flowers are produced all year long on 3-foot stalks among the leaves, and the small, oblong, black fruits ripen all year. Yellow butterfly palm makes an attractive specimen, screening, or poolside planting, but it is overused.

Figure 1. Mature Chrysalidocarpus lutescens: Yellow Butterfly Palm
Figure 1. Mature Dypsis lutescens: Yellow butterfly palm. 
Credit: Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS 


General Information

Scientific name: Dysis lutescens

Pronunciation: dip-sis loo-TESS-enz    

Common name(s): Yellow butterfly palm, bamboo palm, areca palm    

Family: Arecaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 10A through 11 (Figure 2)    

Origin: not native to North America    

Invasive potential: caution, may be recommended but manage to prevent escape (South); not considered a problem species at this time, may be recommended (North, Central)

Uses: indoors; deck or patio; screen; specimen; container or planter

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range



Height: 20 to 30 feet

Spread: 8 to 10 feet

Crown uniformity: irregular

Crown shape: palm, upright/erect, vase

Crown density: open

Growth rate: fast

Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: spiral

Leaf type: odd-pinnately compound

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: linear

Leaf venation: parallel

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: 12 to 18 inches, 18 to 36 inches

Leaf color: green

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: white/cream/gray

Flower characteristics: not showy


Fruit shape: oval, round

Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch

Fruit covering: fleshy

Fruit color: black, brown, red

Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches don't droop; showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns

Pruning requirement: little required

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: not applicable

Current year twig thickness:

Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun, partial sun, or partial shade; shade tolerant

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; slightly alkaline; acidic; well-drained; occasionally wet

Drought tolerance: moderate

Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate


Roots: not a problem

Winter interest: no

Outstanding tree: no

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant

Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Yellow butterfly palm prefers fertile, well-drained, acid soil. If growth in full sun, it makes an excellent specimen or screen (on 4-foot centers), but can be grown in the dense shade of patios and porches (or as house plants). Small palms benefit from some shade until they are several feet tall, and palms should be watered during periods of drought. They require regular fertilizer applications to maintain a good appearance. Young palms in full sun and those in high pH soils develop yellow leaves. Older leaves on plants of any age become chlorotic, frequently from a deficiency of potassium. Affected leaves are often speckled with bronze or yellow. Yellow butterfly palm is moderately salt-tolerant.

Propagation is by seeds or division.


Scales followed by sooty-mold can be a problem for yellow butterfly palm.


Ganoderma root rot, potassium deficiency on older leaves.

Publication #ENH324

Release Date:February 19, 2024

Related Collections

Part of Southern Trees Fact Sheets

  • Critical Issue: 1. Agricultural and Horticultural Enterprises
Organism ID

About this Publication

This document is ENH324, one of a series of the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2023. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering; Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture; and Deborah R. Hilbert, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Department of Environmental Horticulture; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Michael Andreu
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