Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Raffia Palm
Raphia farinifera

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Raphia (RAF-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: farinifera (far-ih-NIF-er-uh) (Info)


Unknown - Tell us

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)
over 40 ft. (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:
Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:
Unknown - Tell us

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

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

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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3 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive jungleboy_fl On Oct 20, 2004, jungleboy_fl from Naples, FL wrote:

This spectacular palm is a "must have" for any palm collector with a spacious garden. It is difficult to find a palm with greater visual impact- however, it is a tropical palm, and requires a great deal of warmth and humidity to look it's best. Raphia require near constant irrigation, or plant them close to a body of water. If you live in a dry climate, and water conservation is an issue, planting this palm will result in wasting a lot of precious water. I've seen them flourish when grown directly in a bog garden, or adjacent to a river or lake.

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

If you have a large yard and are in Southern California Southern Texas or Southern Florida where this palm thrives, you have to have this palm in your yard. I saw these growing in their habitat all the way down to secluded areas outside of Krugar National Park and they are amazing. They thrive in Cape Town South Africa, which is cooler than southern CA and TExas, so it is definatley hardy. They also have some of the largest leaves in teh world, and when the first explorers came through they brought back the leaves of this palm, and said they were feathers from the elephant bird, which is now extinct in Madagascar.

Positive palmbob On Dec 10, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a massive palm having some of the longest leaves in the entire plant kingdom (up to 70 feet long!) and is an important palm from an economic standpoint being the source of 'raphia', or leaf fibre- for making baskets, roofing, building materials, etc. As a young palm, like the one I had in Thousand Oaks, it has very spiny leave edges that rake you every time you try to reach in towards the center of the plant. However, I understand that as the plant ages, the leaves become more user friendly. Being known as a very tropical palm (from Africa and Madagascar) it is surprising that it should do so well in my yard where temps dropped down into the low 20s (did get badly burned that winter). However, the bud or meristem of this palm takes some time to actually peer it's head above ground where it's more subjected to environmental temps and winds. It is likely my palm will succumb once this happens. However, other have had success with this palm in So Cal. It is a beautiful palm having deep orange petioles, bright green leaves and some yellow in the rachis.

One thing that must be clarified, though, is this palm is MARGINAL in southern California (even the very best areas) and could not ever be called a species that 'thrives' here. It does take a lot of water (less if you have clay soils like I did)... but so far no one has gotten one to any significant size yet, so ultimate water requirements in So Cal not known.


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

Thousand Oaks, California
Vista, California
Loxahatchee, Florida
Naples, Florida
Ainaloa, Hawaii

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