Time to vote on your favorite photos. The Voting page is Here

Shaving Brush Palm, Nikau Palm

Rhopalostylis sapida

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Rhopalostylis (rope-a-lo-STY-lis) (Info)
Species: sapida (sap-EE-duh) (Info)


Tropicals and Tender Perennials


Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

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

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)


10-12 ft. (3-3.6 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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


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

Chowchilla, California

Garden Grove, California

Huntington Beach, California

Oceanside, California

Pismo Beach, California

Reseda, California

San Diego, California

San Francisco, California

Santa Barbara, California (2 reports)

Thousand Oaks, California

Upland, California

Ventura, California

Palm Bay, Florida

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 2, 2016, SyrJet from Santa Barbara, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

A very exotic looking palm endemic to New Zealand. It is well adapted to Mediterranean climates, and can easily handle a wide range of adverse conditions.


On Jul 24, 2009, baiissatva from Dunedin,
New Zealand wrote:

Zone 9b Coastal Otago NZ
This is a New Zealand native palm with a couple of difficult to differentiate sub species, the main being the NZ mainland variety with the others I know of being a Banks Peninsula form and one from Norfolk and Kermadec Island(s) called R bauerii, which is reputed to be a lot faster growing, though perhaps not as cold hardy as the NZ nikau.
Here on the South Island their home is really the West Coast province, on the other side of the alps from our location, where the wet temperate rainforest is their native habitat and they thrive on the incredibly high rainfall and lack of hardcore frosting.
Though palm freaks might not like to hear this, these palms are at their best when surrounded, if not inundated by, other evergreen species and grow fas... read more


On Feb 19, 2009, JamesPark from Auckland,
New Zealand (Zone 9a) wrote:

One of the most fantastic palms, with large, stiff fronds. I planted one in autumn and since then it has been attacked by the coldest temperature in 21 years (-4.9 C / 23.2F). All of the fronds have gone brown and crispy, and now the growth bud has begun to shrivel. It's not looking good!


On May 25, 2005, koolkatken from Auckland,
New Zealand wrote:

Native palm here in NZ- in most natural bush around the country. Seems to be 2 main types- one has a beautiful thicker trunk, the other looks rugged and not as attractive. Far too slow growing for my taste- many faster palms available, but it's vogue to plant native these days.

Is not recommended to transplant a mature tree- one of the worst palms for transplants. Tried 2 large (18-20 ft) trees- both died. So sad.


On Apr 17, 2004, Dave_in_Devon from Torquay,
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

So far, young plants appear to be perfectly happy here in coastal south-west England and need no protection. Our temperature range from minus 2C to 34C appears to suit the species well and the only problem is its vulnerability to scale.

Update 06/06/2008 - plants now 9 years old

These palms continue to thrive albeit very slowly. As the seedlings become semi-mature, the base of thhe plant 'shifts' sideways leaving a visible 'rhizome' several inches long. The base is pulled down into the soil and only when this happens does basal thickening and trunk formation start to develop. My 'seedlings' have withstood our worst, one-in-twenty-year winters (2006/07) when temps fell to near minus 4C for short periods on 2 occasions. No damage was sustained despite seve... read more


On Jul 29, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

There are two, maybe three species of this genus, all from the islands of New Zealand and nearby. As a group they are referred to as the shaving brush palms since their sillohuete resembles one. They are relatively fastidious palms preferring a mediterranean climate to one more tropical or cold... a pretty narrow temperature range. But lucky for us in So Cal most areas are perfect for growing this species. It doesn't like it hot or cold.

These palms have a classic feather palm shape with a humongous bulbous crownshaft (more so on this species than the other) of bright, lime green. The leaves are stiff and erect with very closely spaced leaflets. This species differs from R baueri in that the leaflets start at the very begining of the leaf- no petiole basically. The t... read more