Caryota Species, Snakeskin Fishtail Palm

Caryota ophiopellis

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Caryota (kair-ee-OH-tuh) (Info)
Species: ophiopellis (oh-fee-oh-PEL-iss) (Info)




Water Requirements:

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

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)


USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Seed is poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Unknown - Tell us

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 10, 2013, CGTS from Brisbane,
Australia wrote:

I may have this palm but not 100% sure right now. I bought a property a year or so ago and inherited this magnificent palm in the bottom of a creek that runs through the place. I have researched around and the only reason I doubt it's species is that mine does not have such a distinctive striped pattern. Does any one know does the Ophiopellis always have such a contrasting stripe? My palm is very green about 5 mtrs tall with currently 5 majestic fronds each about 4 - 5 Mtrs long. It is in a dappled shade position in amongst Jagera pseudorhus, very tall Eucalyptus microcorys and Schefflera actinophylla so may not have enough light to create the same definition. If this is not the case, does anyone know of a similar Caryota. (Not Gigas and I don't think Caryota No either)


On Mar 24, 2007, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

THough I see some having success with this species in California, most have none. How to tell this from C zebrina as a young palm is still sort of a mystery to me... I even saw a few planted near each other in a nursery in Hawaii, and I still couldn't say I could tell the difference. C zebrina seems a much less finicky palm... but very hard to grow here in So Cal. Both are sort of finicky anywhere it turns out... even in Hawaii they can be tricky. And both very slow there, too.

As palms mature, the two (C ophiopellis and C zebrina) still look very similar, but the difference finally became clear to me. This species (ophiopellis) has leaflets that are thin and feel like those of just about all the other Caryota species, while Caryota zebrina leaflets are uniquely leather... read more


On Jun 11, 2005, viper41 from Yorba Linda, CA wrote:

I have had some success from this plant. Bought seedlings from Hawaii a year-and-a-half ago, 20 of them. Only 3 are surviving now indoors, one is very healthy. Very slow growers, probably taking 3-4 years or more in Socal to get a 1 gallon size plant from seed. Very rare collector's palm. Is similar to Caryota Zebrina, but has more fragile leaves that are less diamond-shaped than the Zebrina. From Vanuatu.