Howea forsteriana, the Kentia palm or thatch palm, is a species of flowering plant within the palm household Arecaceae, endemic to Lord Howe Island in Australia. It’s also extensively grown on Norfolk Island. It’s a comparatively slow-growing palm, ultimately rising as much as 10 m (33 ft) tall by 6 m (20 ft) broad. Its fronds can attain 3 m (10 ft) lengthy. The palm obtained the title “forsteriana” after the naturalist father and son duo who accompanied Captain Prepare dinner’s second voyage to the Pacific, Johann Reinhold Forster and Georg Forster.
The species is taken into account susceptible by the World Conservation Union. It’s cultivated on Lord Howe Island by accumulating wild seeds and germinating them for export worldwide as a decorative backyard or home plant. The commerce within the seeds and seedlings is tightly regulated. This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Backyard Advantage.
Howea forsteriana gained nice recognition as a houseplant in Europe and the US through the Victorian period, at a time when unique palms and different crops had been avidly collected in England and elsewhere. The Kentia turned the quintessential ‘parlor palm’ starting within the 1870s, when seed exports from Lord Howe Island first began. Partly this was as a result of the plant thrived in interiors the place low gentle, low humidity, poor air high quality and funky temperatures made palms in any other case not possible to develop.
By 1885 the palm had achieved preeminence in Britain, the place the Journal of Horticulture commented that: “These Kentias are in larger demand than nearly some other palm on account of their nice magnificence and enduring properties.” Another excuse for his or her recognition is attributable to Queen Victoria, who cultivated them in all of her houses and left directions for Kentia palms to be positioned round her coffin whereas she lay in state. The affiliation with royalty and the truth that Kentias had been fairly costly to purchase gave those that may furnish their houses with them a sure status.
The Palm Courts which turned common in Edwardian resorts like these of The Ritz Lodge in London or the Plaza Lodge in New York all featured Kentia palms, aesthetically pleasing due to their architectural, drooping fronds and the nice top they attain at maturity. They proceed for use in such contexts, being a plant of selection for contemporary resort lobbies, casinos, and buying malls. One of many top quality services of R.M.S Titanic, such because the Verandah Café (a palm court docket), had featured numerous potted Kentia palms.
The palm is a chic plant, and is common for rising indoors, requiring little gentle. Outside, it prefers a tropical area however may even develop in a cooler local weather, and might tolerate temperatures right down to -5 °C, however just for a couple of hours; regular temperatures mustn’t go under 10°. It grows readily exterior in areas equivalent to southern Australia and northern New Zealand, the place it’s pretty widespread in personal gardens or as a road tree.
Within the Northern Hemisphere, it may be grown as far north as southwest England, and grows properly within the south of Spain and the southern United States, and can bear flowers and fruit. The coasts of the southeastern Azores and Madeira provide climates just like its unique habitat. It’s gradual rising, however will ultimately attain heights of 6 to 18 metres. Below pure situations, it grows as a solitary tree. Germination of the seeds is erratic.
The carefully associated Belmore sentry palm (Howea belmoreana), additionally endemic on Lord Howe Island, is a smaller species to 7 metres tall, discovered primarily as an understorey plant in moist forests.
A potted Kentia palm bought in modern-day backyard facilities usually doesn’t consist of 1 palm however 2 to five, planted in clusters as seedlings to offer the plant a shrubbier look. They continue to be comparatively costly to buy, as a result of the export of seeds from Lord Howe Island is strictly managed, the germination fee for seeds is low, and the plant is a gradual grower, requiring years of nurturing to succeed in saleable measurement. In Europe Kentias are primarily nursery-grown in Holland after which bought all through the continent. They’re extra common, inexpensive, and simpler to buy in European international locations than they’re in the US, the place a lot of the business rising is completed in Hawaii earlier than crops are delivered to the mainland.
As potted crops Kentias are pretty tolerant of neglect: they’ll stand up to low-light situations, low humidity, rare watering and funky temperatures. Nonetheless, it’s advisable to offer Kentias vibrant, oblique gentle to encourage progress and a extra strong look; Kentias positioned in darkish corners with little pure gentle are likely to look leggy and develop very slowly. Within the northern hemisphere, a northern or northeastern window is finest, as Kentias can’t tolerate direct solar and can sunburn if positioned in such an publicity.
The roots are very delicate to disturbance, so gardeners ought to solely repot Kentias after they’ve turn into extraordinarily root sure of their present pot, and even then ought to take particular care. They respect common water however ought to be allowed to dry out between waterings. Overwatering, or permitting the roots to sit down in water, can induce root rot and kill the palm. An indoor houseplant fertilizer ought to be utilized often within the spring and summer time to encourage progress.
If used indoors, be sure to mist the fronds thrice per week with rainwater to lift the humidity ranges and hold the fronds wanting inexperienced and wholesome.