Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Fishtail Palm, Clustered Fishtail Palm
Caryota mitis

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Caryota (kair-ee-OH-tuh) (Info)
Species: mitis (MIT-iss) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

6 members have or want this plant for trade.


10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

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:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade
Full Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Unknown - Tell us

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
This plant is monocarpic

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds

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There are a total of 19 photos.
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9 positives
2 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive rw93003 On Aug 17, 2014, rw93003 from San Buenaventura, CA wrote:

My caryota mitis grows fine in Ventura, California. It's planted beneath the outer branches of a huge Hass Avocado tree (50-60 ft tall) in my back yard so it receives dappled sunlight or shade most of the day. It is in full sun for less than an hour each day. It receives little or no care. If I happen to water a citrus tree (couple of lemon trees and an orange tree) nearby I'll sometimes throw the hose on the ground at the foot of palm "trees" for a few minutes and I don't do that very often.

Positive sbutler323 On Dec 24, 2012, sbutler323 from Port Charlotte, FL wrote:

Easy to fall in love with this palm, great specimen plant. Have one sitting by itself in a grassy area, the clustering habit allows it to be unsupported by additional landscaping nor groundcover...grass grows up to leaf drop off and no weeds grow near. Have taking two root growth cuttings and successfully potted...have not planted either but will update once they're established in the ground. Tons of seeds, hopefully not sterile.

Positive ritaknits On Jan 17, 2011, ritaknits from Big Pine Key, FL wrote:

We bought a fixer-upper here a year ago. The yard has lots of mature fishtail palms as well as coconut palms, hibiscus, mahogany trees, bougainvilla, and plumeria. I love the berries hanging on the fishtails. The palms are very healthy; we have to keep pruning them to keep them from hanging over the pool.

The Key deer love the fishtail palm fronds; they keep them from growing through the fence! I've never had any reaction to handling the fronds; the berries are just now maturing and I now know not to touch them!

Positive opihi On Jan 4, 2011, opihi from Duluth, GA wrote:

I have this plant in Duluth, GA as a houseplant. It's been in my house for six years now. I usually don't have much luck with palms as houseplants but this is one that is easy to grow. Mine is about 8 feet tall now and very green and healthy. I'm just worried that it will continue to grow and not fit in my husband's office anymore. If it does, I will transfer it to my master bathroom which has a cathedral ceiling. I love that I can have a tropical look even in Georgia. I think this palm thrives on neglect because it requires minimal care and still grows beautifully. Mine is growing next to a window which faces south.

Positive birdstalker On Jan 9, 2010, birdstalker from Hobe Sound, FL wrote:

Unlike many palms, the fishtail definitely prefers shade or semi-shade. Our landscape architect designed ours to be planted in full sun by our pool. One year later, it is not nearly as full and dark green as it was at the nursery. It has turned pale, with brown tips.

I'm not sure what kind of fertilizer our landscaper is using, but I suspect it also may be in need of the special nutrients another member suggested below. Although, our foxtails are looking yellow, too.

On the upside... It is a large, gorgeous tropical that does an excellent job of adding privacy around our hot tub. Other than the berries that drop, it is basically maintenance free.

On the downside: Raccoons seem to love eating the "toxic" berries and then depositing them back in our pool. :(

Positive FLplantjunkie On Sep 14, 2008, FLplantjunkie from Titusville, FL wrote:

I planted one in my yard about 3 years ago. I am moving and renting my interested in taking my palm with me. I have read that it may get stressed, flower and which case I'd rather leave it. Any suggestions? I have 5 clusters and it approx. 12-15 ft tall.

Positive billowen On Apr 8, 2007, billowen from Port Charlotte, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Dispite the negatve remarks, this is a beautiful and fast growing Palm in South FL. Hurricane Charley took most of the clump down to the ground, but now it's back with an incredible recovery. Requires no special attention at all.

Neutral BayAreaTropics On Aug 26, 2006, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

In southern California maybe it is best to plant them in dappled shade. Full low humidity sun is too much for them.

Positive FLtropics On Jun 11, 2006, FLtropics from Pompano Beach, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

It survives in my yard without much care or maintenance. I never water it either. Wear gloves to trim dead fronds and remove seeds. It's a beautiful tropical plant.

Positive vossner On Jan 27, 2006, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This has been a great indoor plant for me. Growing in a large pot and sitting by a west facing window. I water every 2 weeks or so and that seems to be enough. I find it very low maint. I've had this plant for about 1.5 years.

Neutral Kylecawaza On Aug 23, 2004, Kylecawaza from Corte Madera, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

These palm are usualy devoid of nitrogen manganese and potassium in Southern CAlifornia. So if oyu want a green one fertilize it a lot more than you would with other palms.

Negative Monocromatico On Aug 14, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

I tasted that oxalate today... I like fishtails and all, but... lets just... put a negative here... yuck

Negative palmbob On Jul 9, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a relatively commonly sold palm in the southern US, but it is not really one of the more ornamental of the Caryotas. It is one of the few suckering species, which helps to prolong its life- being monocarpic most Caryotas only live 10-30 years, but this one will keep suckering as other stems flower and die. This species is one of the less hardy ones, and doesn't look good in marginal climates. South Florida and Hawaii are about the only climates in the US this palm looks good in... though it does passably indoors. Not too many growers of this species in California would describe it as a nice looking tree.

Like all Caryotas, the seeds are very irritating (oxylates) and it is recommended to not touch the fruits with bare hands.

Note that the majority of clustering Caryotas sold in nurseries (usually as indoor plants) in the US are NOT this species, but are clumps of a solitary species (most likely C urens or maxima)...


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

Tucson, Arizona
Encino, California
Huntington Beach, California
Indian Wells, California
Rancho Cucamonga, California
San Luis Obispo, California
Santa Barbara, California (2 reports)
Ventura, California
Big Pine Key, Florida (2 reports)
Boca Raton, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Hobe Sound, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Miami, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida (2 reports)
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida (2 reports)
Winter Haven, Florida
Agana Heights, Guam
Honomu, Hawaii
Bay City, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Harlingen, Texas
High Island, Texas
Richmond, Texas
St John, Virgin Islands

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