Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Giant Windowpane Palm
Beccariophoenix fenestralis

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Beccariophoenix (bek-kahr-ee-oh-FEE-niks) (Info)
Species: fenestralis (fen-ESS-tra-liss) (Info)

Synonym:Cocos madagascariensis

2 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

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

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

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

Seed Collecting:
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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There are a total of 19 photos.
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8 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive quaman58 On Jul 12, 2012, quaman58 from San Diego, CA wrote:

This palm has the deserved reputation of being very a difficult grow in Southern California; it usually brown tips & the leaves end up turning yellow, then almost whiteish, before finally dying. But in my blissful ignorance I planted one in a somewhat protected part of my yard (2004), and it just seems (so far) to love life. It is now about 12 feet tall overall, with a few inches of trunk beginning to show. It is pretty cool tolerant as well, although it would probably be faster growing with more heat. It is in a fairly soggy part of the yard. I have heard that some of the difficulty in growing them is because they require a lower ph than most palms; 5.5 or lower. I'm inclined to agree with that. It's possible that without the correct ph, the plant can't take up the nutrients it needs. On the other hand, there are some good ones in S. Florida which has pretty alkaline soil, so who knows.

Positive justpalms On Aug 6, 2011, justpalms from banora point
Australia wrote:

I have 2 specimens and i must emphasize the fact that both were grown from seeds obtained from Pascoa from 10 years ago.They simply are powering to say the least!The biggest is over the 10m mark and very green and robust, i have trimmed it many times as its fronds were reaching the verendah and reducing natural light inside the dining room.The smaller one has been somewhat growing at a slower rate due to being in a pot for quite awhile but once out in the ground, it took off !Its about 8 m and very beautiful.It also gets a bit of shade and blends in very well with the rest of the garden.Both are growing in rich red volcanic soil and 10 minutes away from the beach. Looking forward to those torpedoes!!To grow these plants to perfection,you must have room, water and deep fertile soil and warm weather all year around. Queensland weather is ideally suited.Happy gardening!!

Positive CoconutFreak1 On May 11, 2011, CoconutFreak1 from Central Coast, NSW
Australia (Zone 10b) wrote:

Although still rare in cultivation, this is a great palm for Sydney. It grows well in Sydney's climate and always looks good. It is a close relative of the Coconut, and looks almost identical to it. However it is a much larger, more robust palm, and in my opinion, makes a better landscaping plant. On the downside it is slow growing, and although this is the fastest of the 3 Beccariophoenix species, it is still a slow palm.

Positive HK22 On Sep 21, 2009, HK22 from Sydney
Australia wrote:

This is one of the best cold-hardy Coconut Palm lookalikes. It and the No Windows form and Beccariophoenix alfredii, Parajubaea cocoides and possibly Voanioala gerardii are nearly identical to Cocos nucifera. It is very similar to the coconut palm, except being very cold-hardy and having small fruit, rather than large. I recommend this palm and the other three mentioned above to ANY coconut palm lovers who live in cold areas.

Positive WebInt On Aug 28, 2009, WebInt from Vista, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

The poster below is incorrect on growth speeds. Beccariophoenix sp. Windows is by far the fastest grower of the three plants here in SoCal. Beccariophoenix madagascariensis is the slowest, with Beccariophoenix alfredii a little faster then Madagascariensis. Both Madagascariensis and Alfredii are outstanding plants for SoCal. They are slow growing but are pretty cold hardy and stay green year round. I know of some B madagascariensis that were not touched by 24 degrees during the 2007 freeze. As of 2009, Alfredii is still a new grow for palm lovers. Before it was officially named in 2007, it was sold as Beccariophoenix sp. (High Plateaux). The High Plateaux in Madagascar can see freezes in winter so this should be a good sign for growers that like to push the limits outside of 10a and 10b zones.

All three are distinct as small plants. But as adults you would have to have a pretty trained eye to tell the difference. In the end, Madagascariensis and Alfredii will give us in California a chance to have something that looks more like a Coconut palm then Parajubaea. Its just going to take a VERY long time to get them to size.

Beccariophoenix sp. Windows has been named, just not released (as of 2009). The name of Beccariophoenix madagascariensis was given in error as those plants were confused from the real plant described way back last century. John Dransfield has realized this should be releasing its new name soon. Personally I find it to be the ugliest of the three here in SoCal and as others have stated, it is very difficult to grow. I know of only a few trunking plants and none look that spectacular. But if properly taken care of, it is the fastest grower of the three.

Apparently there might even be a 4th species of Beccariophoenix.

Positive bepah On May 15, 2009, bepah from Brentwood, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Theres has been an update by John Dransfield regarding this plam. Originally, 2 Beccariophoenix species, madagascariensis and alfredii. The madagascariensis had the windowed form and the non-windowed form. This has now been resolved. The non-window form has been designated madagascariensis, the window form is awaiting a species name. Alfredii was untouched. This plant described (and photoed) here will have to have its entry changed. The windows form grows slower and is more cold sensitive than the non windows form.

Positive cfkingfish On Nov 7, 2005, cfkingfish from Venice, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Well known amongst collectors, this palm is related to both the Cocos and Voanioala genera. Its common name speaks for itself, and I believe this palm will be much more common in subtropical/tropical landscapes in the near future. It is a bit more hardy to cold than Cocos, and the no window version is supposedly salt tolerant.

Neutral Equilibrium On Feb 26, 2005, Equilibrium wrote:

Also known as the Manarano Palm, the Maruala Palm, as well as the Giant Windowpane Palm; this plant is native to Madagascar. Its conservation status is endangered in its native range due to habitat loss as a result of ongoing mining and infrastructure development.

Given its conservation status, I am including excerpts regarding germination from this site-

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
soak for 24 hrs then place in plastic bag or tupperware with moist spagnum moss, temps were 85-100 seeds started to germinate after 2 weeks and kept germinating for 4 more weeks and produced over 80% success.
Submitted on 13/11/2002 by jason pasahow

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Ten seeds sowed in moist sphagnum peat moss and kept in a plastic zip-lock bag were kept at ambient Central Florida summer temperatures (70F/22C to 95F/35C) and subjected to day and nighttime fluctuations. First seed germinated in about two weeks, with eight of the remaining nine germinating within another two weeks (adjacent germination). No seedlings have been lost to damping off and all are growing well.
Submitted on 03/08/2002 by Jason C. Skelly

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

This beauutiful palm thrives in Southern California and even survives areas like San Francisco, although only suburbs of the area since it needs temperatures above 70 degrees once in a while. lol. This palm is naturally slow growing, and tehre are few, if any, trunking palms in cultivation. In 8 years, you could expect this palm to start trunking in CA or Florida. It grows a little better in places from 5 to 20 miles away from the coast in CA than in Florida because it is native to a high elevation and likes the cooler climate. This palm can get 40 feet of trunk, and looks exactly like a coconut.

Neutral palmbob On Dec 7, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a tough plant for me to grow well, but I have not killed it (though I don't know how it's doing now). This has been called locally the windowpane palm because, as a seedling, the wide floppy leaves are mostly unsplit and have 'windows' nearer the rachis that make for a unique and attractive look. As the palm matures, however, the leaves start to show more classic feather-leaf characteristics and the entire tree becomes quite large and spread all over the place. Here in So Cal this palm is exceptionally difficult to keep from yellowing a lot, perhaps because of lack of sandy soil (which it prefers). In Florida it does a bit better, and does great in tropical climates like its native Madagascar.

There are two distinct forms of this palm, which will probably turn out later on to be two different species (still a LOT to learn about Madagascan palms). There is a 'non-window' form, which is much more slow growing but a lot hardier here in So Cal and doesn't have the yellowing problem of the more common form.

As mentioned above by WebInt this has turned out NOT to be the true species and will someday have a true name... but for now since there is nothing better to call it, and this is the palm most of the world recognizes as Beccariophoenix madagascariensis, it will remain as such in the plant files until Dransfield comes up with a better binomial


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

Mesa, Arizona
Brentwood, California
Los Angeles, California
Oceanside, California
San Diego, California (2 reports)
Thousand Oaks, California
Fort Myers, Florida
Naples, Florida
Odessa, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Venice, Florida
Kurtistown, Hawaii

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