Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Giant Fishtail Palm
Caryota obtusa

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Caryota (kair-ee-OH-tuh) (Info)
Species: obtusa (ob-TOO-suh) (Info)

Synonym:Caryota gigas
Synonym:Caryota obtusidentata
Synonym:Caryota rumphiana var. indica

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

7 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Tropicals and Tender Perennials

over 40 ft. (12 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)
over 40 ft. (12 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:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:
Unknown - Tell us

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
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)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds

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3 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive SurfCityPalms On Nov 2, 2013, SurfCityPalms from Huntington Beach, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Great tree for SoCal, but I have to correct the previous post. There has been a few that have flowered and died in just my city, Huntington Beach, let alone the state.

Positive Kylecawaza On Nov 20, 2004, Kylecawaza from Corte Madera, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Whats great about this tree in Southern California is that Southern California does nothave a tropical climate, so it is slower growing so you can enjoy it longer. So far, none have flowered or died in the state for that reason. They are also grown as far north as San Francisco, although they do better in the suburbs rather than the city itself. Its a great palm to have though. They probably have the full potential of getting to their maximum height.

Positive palmbob On Aug 11, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is the most beautiful of all the 'hardy' Fishtail Palms (there are some incredibly ornamental species but they just can't grow in So Cal) and the most massive. In the wild this palm can reach a height of over 100 feet, and the trunk can be 3-4' in diameter. It doesn't seem like it's gonna be that huge in So Cal, as newly trunking palms with about 10-15' of trunk are only 2'- 2.5' in diameter at the most. What makes it so nice a plant are the even spacing of the leaves creating a lacey pattern, unlike the more sloppy pattern of many other fishtails. It also has a huge spread of about 20+ feet, so leave it lots of room. As it grows, it has a dark to almost black trunk near the crown, unlike the more commonly grown fishtail palms like urens, maxima and mitis (white tomentum near the crown in those species). Further down, the trunks become giant, grey, markedly ringed poles of solid material (Caryotas have some of the densest wood in all the palm world- poor choices for making a Tiki out of!)

Like all fishtail palms, it is monocarpic and lives a relatively short life (we think) in the states. Plant it where a crane can reach it since it is nearly impossible to cut down in sections once it dies (extremely hard wood). And they are prone to falling over after they die. Actually they are prone to falling over in high winds while still alive, so careful where you plant this monster.


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

Altadena, California
Encino, California
Huntington Beach, California
Los Angeles, California
Oceanside, California
Rancho Cucamonga, California
Rowland Heights, California
San Diego, California (2 reports)
San Leandro, California
Santa Barbara, California (2 reports)
Venice, California
Whittier, California
Boca Raton, Florida
Fort Pierce, Florida
Homestead, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Agana Heights, Guam

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