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PlantFiles: Palmyra Palm, Toddy Palm, Sugar Palm
Borassus flabellifer

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Borassus (bor-RAS-us) (Info)
Species: flabellifer (fla-BEL-lif-er) (Info)

3 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

over 40 ft. (12 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

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

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

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

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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2 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive asiatropical On Nov 3, 2007, asiatropical wrote:

Sugar palm are the most useful palm in Asia. The fruit and seed is eaten raw or cook, the sap are highly drink able and use to make in to palm sugar use for cooking. The sprouts are eaten rosted that testes like a sweeter water chesnut. The leaves is 3 meters across and stonge that a person can stand or sit on it and the leave are use for thatching, mats, baskets, fans, hats, umbrellas, and as writing material. The black trunk are very large, hard and stonge that use for valued for construction. The sugar palm is a natural symbol tree of Cambodia and grows all over the country. Specifically it can be seen near Angkor Wat and other temples of the Angkor complex.

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

I don't know where palmbob got they cannot grow in CA.

There are specimens of this palm in inland CA with 19 feet of trunk. A beautiful palm. They are not for the zone 11 areas though, and need to be in a place with hot summer, and they can handle low humidity, I saw thousands of these palms in their habitat in Malawi, they are definatley a beatuful palm, and should not be overallloked. You need a male and a female to get fruit though. They are pretty fast growers, and have a beatuil Roystonea or Copernicia Baileyana type trunk.

Neutral palmbob On Jul 21, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is an economically important palm, but not one that is grown much in the US because of its fastidious nature requiring constant heat. About the only climte you can grow this palm in is Florida, and maybe Central Texas and the hottest climates in Arizona. This is not a good palm for California- can't survive our chronic cold winters.

It looks a bit like a large Washingtonia robusta (the super-common Mexican Fan Palm) but it has seeds that nearly match the size of a coconut.

I would love to see this 'mythical' 8' palm in California... not saying it's impossible, but only plant I know growing here is in inland, southern San Diego and it's struggling in that excellent climate. Not seen/heard of another success story here.


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

Naples, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida

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