Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Areca Palm, Butterfly Palm, Golden Cane Palm, Madagascar Palm
Dypsis lutescens

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis) (Info)
Species: lutescens (loo-TESS-enz) (Info)

Synonym:Areca lutescens
Synonym:Chrysalidocarpus lutescens

One vendor has this plant for sale.

12 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 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:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Gold (Yellow-Orange)
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

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

Seed Collecting:
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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There are a total of 54 photos.
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12 positives
3 neutrals
3 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive marksgrdn On Jan 26, 2013, marksgrdn from Stockton, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

i just recently purchased an ARECA PALM from my local H.D.
nice price I might add as well. i bought it to go into my new bathroom that i just remodeled. i have it on a stand in a west window. i do not use this room as it is a guest bath so i keep the door closed to contain the heat in the main part of the house. the darn thing loves it in there all by itself. ive watered it once since purchasing it 2 wks ago. i might give it a drink this weekend as the soil feels slightly dry. i love it so far. it is what i was looking for. im happy and it seems to be happy. i do look in on it daily.

Positive glooten On May 22, 2011, glooten from Sydney
Australia wrote:

I have 2 Golden Cane Palms growing in pots on my north facing balcony, so far they have been very low maintenance and are growing beautifully, even though I often forget to water them!

Negative Mandrew968 On Jan 18, 2011, Mandrew968 from Miami, FL wrote:

This palm is not only overly planted, but all too often it is planted over ten seeds to a bucket. This results in a more rapid filling of the bucket and hence a quicker sell for the nursery, but also causes these palms to over compete for limited space--this is easy to recognize if you own one: does your palm look more like a yellowish-brown leafy hedge than a clustering palm? Are the trunks only 1-4" instead of 4-9" thick? Does your clump have tapering, dying stems? people who go to buy these palms want the ones that are the most filled out, but the ones that end up looking the best are the least populated buckets that will eventually fill out better than the fuller looking ones at the nursery... if you have the extra money and sense, buy a dypsis cabadae instead.

Neutral planterbug On Nov 22, 2009, planterbug from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

my areca palm is growing great and are about 6 feet tall. and create a beautiful privicy hedge. now are there any ways to slow the growth before they get too tall

Negative park_biologist On Oct 27, 2009, park_biologist from Key Largo, FL wrote:

Some "areca" palms are escaping from cultivation and invading natural areas where they can be expected to continue increasing and displacing native plants. One of the more popular "areca" palms, the golden butterfly palm or yellow areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) is a common weed in the parks and preserves of Broward and Palm Beach Counties in southeast Florida.

At first I assumed the seeds were probably dispersed by native mammals such as raccoons and opossums, or perhaps by native gopher tortoises. However, I usually find the palms sprouting as single specimens, rather than in the clusters that would result from being consumed and passed in droppings of these species. So, I have revised my list of suspects; I am now watching the palms I see in fruit for feeding activity by mockingbirds and red-bellied woodpeckers.

Florida has eleven native palms, species of many different forms, sizes, and growth rates. Anyone who wants to do nature a favor should have no trouble finding a native species that fits their yard, and their taste:

Acoelorraphe wrightii - PAUROTIS PALM
Coccothrinax argentata - SILVER PALM
Hemithrinax morrisii - SILVER THATCH PALM
Rhapidophyllum hystrix - NEEDLE PALM
Roystonea regia var. elata - FLORIDA ROYAL PALM
Sabal etonia - SCRUB PALM
Serenoa repens - SAW PALMETTO
Thrinax radiata - GREEN THATCH PALM

Positive Just1morePalm On Aug 31, 2009, Just1morePalm from Huntington Beach, CA wrote:

This is one of the most colorful palms that grows well with little care...Very under rated for such a colorful and hearty palm...a great color contrast from other green palms...The colors range from silver-yellow-green-lime-orange-redthe banded leaf scars add a nice tropical feel tooA must have IMO-

Positive puremagick On Jun 18, 2009, puremagick from Brisbane
Australia wrote:

One of the best palms I have, is great for screening and Mine are relatively quick growing. Deffo worth investing in, and are very cheap.

Negative plantparent On Jul 13, 2008, plantparent from Sarasota, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I am in the interiorscape business. We use alot of arecas because clients here want the tropical look. We refer to them as throw away palms. They are inexpensive to replace in accounts (alot of which are low light). I have found the 14" and larger do last longer. The 10" ......not so good. Inside they are too high maitanence for me. Clipping tips, they are also prone to mites and mealey. Outside is different. They do get very large. I see alot of arecas that have not been maintained and to me look unsightly, but if kept up are very nice.

Neutral Gabrielle On Apr 6, 2007, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Native of Madagascar.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Jan 18, 2007, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

I planted a two gallon clump in June 2006. They have done great despite the coldest winter in nearly ten years in the bay area. They need to be placed where they are protected from frost such as under a tree or overhang and where it accumulates warm summer temps. Maybe the most beautiful small palm for the mild climate areas.
Edit: April 07: It's died from the great freeze of 07.

Edit: February 24, 2009: Another planted last spring has done great in almost full sun up against a front porch. The location of this lutescens appears to agree with it much more then my first attempt. It even has slowly opened fronds over the winter of 08/09.
The only other bay area Dypsis lutescens I know of is also planted against a wall with much sun.
These are such great looking palms and if it continues to thrive I couldn't recommend a better small palm for those microclimate warm spots in the bay area. And it faced a 33.8 degree low with very little singing of some fronds. Not even noticeable if you weren't looking for it.
EDIT: April 09,It did it! -went through a wet winter, fine. My recommendation is the usual-start with a large plant for a marginal climate.Makes all the difference in the world.
Edit: April 2010. Its still going. Without a doubt these are full sun palms here in the bay area. Even a hot wall would help boost growth and I suspect,the added warming of the soil is appreciated. Not fast growers,patience should be rewarded though.
EDIT 2013..bad news. I moved it to what I thought was a better spot. And it died. They are very marginal here. Start with as large a plant as you can..full sun,some kind of frost protection- a over hang for example would be the best chance.

Positive eurokitty On Jun 19, 2006, eurokitty from Seattle, WA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have an enormous version of this in the yard of my Florida home. They are very popular in Florida to use as hedges, and for landscaping because they grow so quickly and they look very tropical. We just planted two additional areca palms in our yard to add additional privacy.

The nursery suggested that smaller palms should not be planted in strong sunlight; it will burn the tender leaves and they will forever have a brown edge to them. Smaller plants should be shaded for some part of the day. Once they're fairly mature (about five feet or more) they can be planted in direct sun.

Also worth noting, especially if you live in a hot, tropical climate that these palms require maintenance. (This is nothing new to people who have palm trees - most palms require some maintenance.) Due to their dense nature, they drop a lot of fronds, and the culms look best when thinned out. But thinning a mature, wild looking areca isn't an easy or cheap proposition. When I had my palms professionally trimmed, I had quotes of $150 to $300 to trim just this one tree since it had not been trimmed for several years, maybe more than a decade. It's tricky and painstaking work to thin our and the culms, and usually requires someone experienced with these trees. The bamboo-like culms can grow very large in tropical climates and require a chainsaw to cut. Mine is about 30 feet high and it presently has more than two dozen culms.

Having said all that, I love these palms. They grow very dense, creating an excellent privacy hedge. They look very tropical and other than managing the fronds and getting them trimmed, they are not otherwise demanding in terms of water or soil.

Positive junglejude On Dec 22, 2005, junglejude from Niagara Falls
Canada wrote:

We have three 25' specimen plants in the conservatory. Once the stalks mature they will bloom and set fruit continually. The seeds are better sown fresh, if the fruit dries out, the seeds will not germinate. It takes 90 days to germinate.

Positive tjsangel003 On Oct 24, 2004, tjsangel003 from Warren, OH wrote:

I've kept my Madagascar palm indoors for 3 years now. It's right in front of my back door in the kitchen. It doesnt seem to mind the drafts from outside. It's grown twice as big, occassionally a bottom leaf will yellow but can be pulled right off. Keep fairly moist in a large container. I mist mine daily for humidity, this plant will put up with almost anything! I also have mine in low light and the bronze coloring still shows through.

Positive desertboot On Jul 24, 2004, desertboot from Bangalore
India (Zone 10a) wrote:

A pair of 25-footers flank our gates. Love the shadows of taller fronds over the lower ones. The fruit are particularly attractive to cuckoos. Easy to propagate from seed, and even the tiniest offsets.

Neutral bb96gb On Mar 8, 2004, bb96gb from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

This palm is often used as a tall sreening hedge in South Florida. Creates lots of yard work because it constantly drops fronds.

Positive Monocromatico On Jul 25, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

If you have this palm in your yard, after sometime, when it reaches 2-3m tall it will start producing fruits. Typical palm fruits, but with an orange, flesh edible coat over the seed. It tastes good, a bit too sweet, though, but worth a try. I never heard of it, and never tried it, but these fruits might be good for jellies or something.

On another note, Ive been finding some specimens with ramifications on the top. These individuals are shorter, and have a more "full" looking than the regular palms. I dont know what causes it, but if someone finds it out, may be an option to have in your garden.

Positive palmbob On Jul 6, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

The current name for this palm is Dypsis. Chrysalidocarpus is the old name. This is one of the more common palms you can buy at Home Depot and other outlet nurseries. It is not commonly grown outdoors in most areas of the US except perhaps Miami and parts of San Diego.. however it does well throughout most of Southern California. It is NOT an ideal indoor plant, though, as it really needs a lot of light. Here in So Cal, it does well as a specimen palm, suckering and arching nicely from a central point, with yellowish, ringed trunks and arching, ferny leaves.

In more tropical climates, such as South Florida and Hawaii, this species is very common and overgrown perhaps (even invasive), and used frequently in landscaping as a privacy hedge but to thirty feet tall. It is hard to imagine this in Southern California since it would many decades to try to get this to grow this way, but in the tropics it does this very quickly. The plant also has different look in the tropics, tending to grow much more densely, and having a lot less yellow to the trunk and petioles. Leaflets have a chararcterisic arch with almost and angular turn near the tips that is never seen in California. It makes a very lush plant in these warm, humid climates that is never seen in California.

Positive Hunter_X On Jun 29, 2002, Hunter_X from Orlando, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Clustered non branching stems with fronds that are subdivided and arching. LIGHT:Medium to high. Does well near an east, west, or south window, filtered light, or location receiving 1000 footcandles or more. WATER: frequent. Water thoroughly, keep soil evenly moist to touch (not saturated). Don't let sit in water. TEMPERATURE:
Medium. 61 - 70 (degrees F) days, 56 - 65 nights. HUMIDITY:
Average FERTILIZER: Every 4 months SOIL MIX:1 part sterilized garden loam, 1 part clean coarse sand or Perlite, and 1/2 to 1 part sphagnum peat moss. PROPOGATION:
Division. SELECTION GUIDE: Select sturdy, shapely, healthy plant free from insect and disease damage. New leaf growth is desirable. Avoid those with yellow or brown leaf margins, wilted or water soaked leaves. CARE: Moderate. Lives well under average home conditions. Attractive with moderate maintenance. PROBLEMS:Root rot: Provide adequate drainage. Do not let plant sit in water.Spider mites: Wash with soapy water and apply miticide.


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

Goodyear, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Beverly Hills, California
Brentwood, California
Clayton, California
Del Mar, California
Encino, California
Garberville, California
Garden Grove, California
Hayward, California
Huntington Beach, California
Lemon Grove, California
Los Angeles, California
Rancho Cucamonga, California
Reseda, California
Santa Barbara, California (2 reports)
Stockton, California
Ventura, California (2 reports)
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida (2 reports)
Bradenton, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida (2 reports)
Dover, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (2 reports)
Fort Pierce, Florida (2 reports)
Holmes Beach, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Largo, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
Okeechobee, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Oviedo, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida (2 reports)
Saint Cloud, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida (3 reports)
Sarasota, Florida
Satellite Beach, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Stuart, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Titusville, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Haven, Florida
Agana Heights, Guam
Hana, Hawaii
Kapaa, Hawaii
Wailuku, Hawaii
New Orleans, Louisiana (2 reports)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Summerville, South Carolina

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