Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Travelers Palm
Ravenala madagascariensis

Family: Strelitziaceae
Genus: Ravenala (ra-VEN-ah-la) (Info)
Species: madagascariensis (mad-uh-gas-KAR-ee-EN-sis) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

27 members have or want this plant for trade.


Unknown - Tell us

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 53 photos.
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6 positives
5 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative deedeedink On Jul 14, 2012, deedeedink from Newport Beach, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

Had a gloriously beutiful one thriving in my backyard for 12 years. It reached about 25 feet, had an enormous thick trunk, seemed to be doing great. Then two winters ago, which was fairly wet for southern Calif., it started to flower in February. It had flowered before, but this time it sent out TWO giant flowers at the same time! I had misgivings, as it was also a fairly cold year, hitting 34-38 F several times, and as I say, rather wet. It was growing in a raised mound, so drainage was good, but underneath my whole yard, deep down, is solid clay.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I believe the energy it took to flower, and the bad weather led to it's demise. It began a slow spiral downward after the flowers were fully bloomed out about June of that year. I kept hoping it would perk up, tried good fertilizers, tried more water, less water, no fertilizer, but it didn't make it. It's now a year later, and hoping against hope, I've left it standing, thinking it might send a pup up, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to face up to the fact--it's dead. I''m thinking about putting a new one in, but if I have to climb 25 feet up in the air to cut it's flowers off (if I'm lucky enough to get another on to grow as big) I swear, I'm willing to do it!
Anybody else ever have a problem like this after flowering?

Neutral escot On Feb 12, 2012, escot from Portalon
Costa Rica wrote:

I have the travelers palm growing in Costa Rica and it does well. However, the plant is over 10 years old and has never flowered. How long does it live? escot

Neutral fromSXM On Aug 30, 2010, fromSXM wrote:

Hello everyone,

As we speak we are experiencing hurricane Earl here on Sint
Maarten. We have a beautiful variety of foxtail, royal and traveler palms, which have sadly been quite damaged.

I was hoping that someone knows what to do with a broken/snapped stem of a traveler palm, there are about 3 or 4 of them which are more in the middle than on the outside of the palm.

I hope we can save this beautiful tree and look forward to any advise. Thank you!

Positive pjalaff On Jun 8, 2010, pjalaff from Zephyrhills, FL wrote:

OK, so I got some shoots growing. Luckily I left them around, because last winter was brutal and killed the main palm/tree. I've decided to transplate a couple shoots to another location around the house, while removing the main (dead) one and rearranging other shoots. What the best way to do this?


Neutral llelyn On Feb 21, 2010, llelyn from N/A
Belize wrote:

If Spaceman_spiff dug up the 'shoots' instead of cutting them off he would solve the problem. They are seedlings, not suckers. I realise this comment comes years after his complaint!

Positive artisun On Sep 10, 2008, artisun from Sebastian, FL wrote:

I've several across the rear of my property & although they keep having "babies", they are acting as my privacy fence.

I also have my most favorite, in the center front focal point of my house & I don't know how to trim it as since going through several hurricanes in the last 5 years, the main, center tree has turned a bit from it's east/west fan, many of it's leaves are shredded, is at least 20 ft tall & the trunk is quite skinny. It also has may babies which are in all different directions.

I've also found that cutting anywhere on the stem of a leaf will result in part of next new leaf being cut as well.

Positive salcedoda On Mar 17, 2007, salcedoda from Orlando, FL wrote:

This is an awesome and huge palm tree. I have had it for five years (survived the three hurricanes). The tree has several off-shoots which I have kept because of the unique look behind my pool. I think the highest frond is about 30 feet. My concern is that I do not kill the tree by trimming too much.

Positive spaceman_spiff On Jul 25, 2005, spaceman_spiff from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have one of these growing in my back yard here in St. Petersburg, Florida (zone 9b), and it is huge after only 3 years. However, I had heard and/or assumed that the reason it's called a "traveler's tree" or "traveler's palm" (although not really a palm) is because the leaves are always oriented in an east-west direction, not because of anything to do with water being stored inside, as mentioned above.

Anyway, it's a great addition to my yard and always receives many comments. It's at least 20 feet tall now, just starting to show its "trunk," and I just noticed two days ago that a flower is emerging, so I may post a photo or two in the next few days.

The only real drawback I consider is that it is constantly trying to "make babies" that shoot up near the base of the trunk. I have seen a couple of these trees around town where the "babies" were allowed to grow, and the tree just became a huge ugly mess, looking more like a giant bush than a tree. Every few days (especially in summer) I cut the shoots off at ground level, so that it will only have the one main plant/trunk, and so it will remain neat, tidy, and symmetrical. I noticed in the photos posted here that none of the large trees seemed to have any shoots coming up near the trunk. I wonder why mine continuously makes so many?

Another slight drawback is that when it's windy (and with the 3 hurricanes that passed by last year, and one already this year, it's windy a lot!), it pretty much shreds the leaves, which is sad because they look so much neater when not wind-shredded. I periodically cut off the oldest leaves because they become so shredded and ugly. But I still love the tree because of its overall symmetry!

Update on September 24, 2005

Back in July I expected to take photos of a newly-emerging flower spike on my specimen of this plant, but it took a lot longer for the spike to fully emerge than I expected! (I guess it takes a lot of energy and nutrients to make a bloom this big).

Positive Hadrian999 On Oct 21, 2004, Hadrian999 from Brisbane
Australia wrote:

It's a very nice plant that I've successfully grown indoors for the last year, but does tend to need a large pot if grown indoors and a room with windows facing the equator (north facing in the southern hemisphere and south facing in the northern).

Neutral deacon3 On Oct 11, 2004, deacon3 from Tampa, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Recently purchased two of these that were marked down for quick sale (7 gallon containers) that were damaged by the 3 Florida storms. Fronds are pretty damaged, however, one of the plants had a frond that was ready to open/bloom, and the next day after planting it did.

I don't know how to take care of this plant yet, my neighbor, who has various types of banana trees in his yard, said that he would leave the heavily leaning and damaged leaves on the plant; I did remove all the broken fronds.

Positive Monocromatico On Apr 28, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

An interesting monocotyledoneous tree, with a palm like stem that may grow up to 20 m high. It has a rhyzome, of the same type as others of the same family, generating new stems every year. The leaves are huge, looking like banana tree's leaves. The petioles are disposed as a fan, and between them there's a space, where fresh water is stored (when it rains, the water infiltrates in those spaces, filling them with water. You could even drink it). The inflorescence ressembles the one of Heliconia, but green. Inflorescence and flowers aren't really visually important, but may atract birds. When the fruits rippen, lots of interesting blue seeds fall. I don't know how, but the seeds' blue coat seems to produce a certain pigment that could be extracted. Requires a rich organic soil, hot temperatures, full sun and moderate humidity

Neutral Floridian On Sep 25, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Flower bracts and leaf sheaths hold rain water useful for emergency drinking, hence the common name. This palm-like tree needs rich, moist, well drained soil and a sunny spot in a hot climate.
Propagate by seeds in the spring or division of suckers at any time.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Glendale, Arizona
Carlsbad, California
Encino, California
Huntington Beach, California
Newport Beach, California
Oceanside, California
San Jose, California
Santa Barbara, California (2 reports)
Venice, California
Big Pine Key, Florida (2 reports)
Boca Raton, Florida
Boynton Beach, Florida
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Englewood, Florida
Estero, Florida
Fort Pierce, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Holmes Beach, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Lake Helen, Florida
Loxahatchee, Florida
Marathon, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Mims, Florida
Naples, Florida
Ocala, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Palm Harbor, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Punta Gorda, Florida
Rockledge, Florida (3 reports)
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Sebastian, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Venice, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Ahuimanu, Hawaii
Haleiwa, Hawaii
Honomu, Hawaii
Kihei, Hawaii
Taylor, Michigan
St John, Mississippi
Baytown, Texas
Brownsville, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Houston, Texas
Mission, Texas
Portland, Texas

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