The Lady Palm Tree, scientific name Rhapis excelsa, is very popular indoor and outdoor palm because of its easy maintenance and cold hardiness which makes it a great choice for landscape in USDA zones 8-11. The Lady Palm is also known R. flabelliformis and Aristocratic Lady Palm.
Rhapis excelsa grows to a maximum height of about 12 ft and and a spread of less than 3 ft. It self-propagates via underground rhizome offshoots, forming multi-stemmed clumps that can reach enormous width, spreading as wide as its height or more. Stem are covered with dark woven palm fibers, which is actually the outer base of the leaf sheaths. Each stem, or cane, is about 1 inch wide, and has leaf scar pattern resembling bamboo canes.
The Lady Palm has palmate, or fan-shaped, leaves that grow on unarmed petioles up to 1-2ft long. Leaves are deeply divided into 4-10 segments, never overlap but are slightly offset. The Lady Palm fronds are dark green when grown in shade to a light green when grown with more sunlight. As the lower leaves grow old, they turn from glossy and green to dull and discolored. You should trim them off for an attractive appearance. The Lady Palm has less than 8 to 10 leaflets per leaf with saw-toothed ends.
During spring months the Lady Palm produces light green to yellow flowers that are held by spectacular pinkish inflorescence at the top of the stem. The Lady Palm is dioecious, male and female flowers grow on different plants. Flowers are fragrant, spirally-arranged, and fleshy.The female flowers have a 3 part pistil. The male flowers are born on 2ft branched inflorescence, growing from among the leaves and extending much longer than the leaves toward the top of the plant. Flowers are followed by round, fleshy, creamy fruits.
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