Rhapis excelsa cultivated varieties - 6' tall DARUMA and 2' tall TENZAN varieties

Rhapis palms article by Lynn McKamey

Rhapis excelsa cultivated varieties - 6' tall DARUMA and 2' tall TENZAN varieties

By Lynn McKamey 

Gardens, P.O.Field 287, Gregory, TX 78359

  Rhapis, often called Woman Palms, might be present in houses and gardens all through
the world. The widespread recognition of those multi-cane fan palms can
be attributed to their adaptability to a variety of soils, climates,
and environments. Uniquely, they’re the one decorative palms to have
named varieties (cultivars) in inexperienced and variegated varieties. Whereas 4 species
are nicely often called elegant panorama accents or indoor ornamentals, others
stay unknown to cultivation, awaiting assortment in distant areas of Southeast

The genus might be divided into two fundamental teams: The strong Chinese language subtropicals
that are native to Taiwan and mainland China, and the smaller Indochinese
tropicals indigenous to areas in and round Thailand and Laos. 

Rhapis excelsa and Rhapis humilis are the oldest cultivated Chinese language
species, recorded as prized ornamentals within the Far East as early because the
17th Century. These are characterised by having massive thick leaves on sturdy
canes 3/4″ to 1 1/4″ (2 to three cm) in diameter which develop greater than 8′ (2.5
m) tall. Rhapis subtilis from Thailand and Rhapis laosensis are “20th century”
species, being found and named by Odoardo Beccari in 1910 and introduced
into cultivation over the last 20 years. These have thinner, smaller
leaves on slim canes lower than 3/4″ (2 cm) in diameter and infrequently exceed
8′ (2.5 m) in peak. Different species had been named and described by Beccari
and Max Burret through the first half of this century, however stay unknown
to the trendy world of cultivated vegetation. Nonetheless, a number of of those might
be grown by Japanese horticulturists as “misnamed varieties” of R. excelsa
and R. humilis. Clearly, the genus wants additional research to determine full
order. This troublesome undertaking is being undertaken by Dr. John Dransfield
and Laura Fitt of the Royal Botanic Backyard, Kew, England. 


Cultivated Species of Rhapis 


Rhapis are among the best palms to develop, however every species has
its personal specific surroundings and tradition necessities; no two are alike.
This idiosyncrasy offers versatility to the genus; wherever you might dwell,
not less than one of many species will thrive in your home or panorama. 

Rhapis excelsa in a California garden

Woman palms might be propagated by division or seed, relying on species.
Rhapis are dioecious, requiring each female and male vegetation for profitable
pollination. R. excelsa and R. subtilis seed are being commercially produced;
nevertheless, feminine R. humilis and male R. laosensis are unknown in cultivation;
because of this these species should be propagated by division. 

Rhapis subtilis “Thailand Woman Palm”  

Rhapis subtilis was launched into cultivation by Watana Sumawong of
Bangkok through the late 1960s. At the moment, Thailand Woman Palm was thought
to be a miniature type of R. humilis and was distributed commercially beneath
that title till 1984 when it was acknowledged by Dr. Dransfield and Ms. Fitt
to be Beccari’s Rhapis subtilis. 

“Thailand Woman Palm” is a small species, seldom exceeding 6′ (2 m) of
peak. Canes are slim with neat clean fiber, brown in coloration. Offshoots
have stiff, brittle roots and sucker near the principle cane, making division
nearly unattainable. Since women and men flower prolifically, plentiful
quantities of seed can be found. 


Two forms of Rhapis subtilis

At the very least two, if not three types of R. subtilis exist. The tallest
sort has leaves with broad segments which barely resemble R. excelsa.;
a second kind has tiny canes, small leaves with finely divided segments,
and slowly grows 2′ to three’ (1 m) tall as proven within the {photograph} above.
A 3rd sort seems to be a mix of the others. Cross pollination
of those completely different varieties might trigger the broad variation in seedlings and
mature vegetation. In contrast to the blunt tipped R. excelsa, all R. subtilis have
pointed leaf ideas. 

Being a tropical, R. subtilis requires excessive humidity and plentiful moisture.
Whereas all Rhapis can appeal to scale bugs, that is the one species severely
affected by spider mites. It has a temperature vary of 32 to 90 levels
F (zero to 32 levels C), however prefers 60 to 80 levels F. Thailand Woman Palm
thrives in humid, tropical climates, however seldom adapts to sizzling dry areas
or cool subtropical areas. It may be troublesome as a houseplant. 

Rhapis laosensis “Laos Woman Palm”  

First found and named by Beccari greater than 70 years in the past, this small
Woman Palm was introduced into cultivation through the 1960s by the late David
Barry of California. The few specimens in America are all feminine divisions
of his vegetation they usually haven’t but been critically recognized as R. laosensis.
Canes are pencil skinny and as with R. subtilis, have slick neat fiber. Skinny
leaves with broad segments curve downward offering a really sleek impact.
One of many oldest cultivated specimens is displayed at Fairchild Tropical
Gardens in Miami and stands nearly 6′ (2 m) tall. 


Rhapis laosensis at Fairchild Tropical Garden - Miami, Florida

Laos Woman Palm is comparatively straightforward to divide, however stays scarce in
provide. Tradition will not be troublesome – totally water when barely dry and
hold temperatures between 30 to 90 levels F (-1 to 32 levels C). R. laosensis
grows greatest in humid tropical areas, however will adapt to heat subtropical

Rhapis humilis “Slender Woman Palm”  

Native to China, this subtropical is the tallest of all Rhapis, usually
exceeding 18′ (6 m) in peak. Massive leaves with many slim segments envelop
slender canes, creating the title “Slender Woman Palm”. 

A number of the first imported into America within the early 1900s are nonetheless
majestically rising at The Huntington Botanical Backyard in San Marino,
California. Primarily used as towering panorama specimens on the American
west coast, R.humilis thrives in cool subtropical climates with temperatures
from 18 to 90 levels f (-7 to 32 levels C). These grown in tropical areas
endure in sizzling summer season warmth and may exhibit gradual progress and lack of vigor. 


Rhapis humilis at Huntington Gardens in California

Solely male vegetation are recognized in cultivation, due to this fact, propagation should
be by division. Small container specimens beneath 6′ (2 m) tall are scarce
since roots are brittle and gradual to determine; because of this, clump divisions
are extra profitable than single cane separations. 

Rhapis excelsa “Massive Woman Palm” and “Miniature
Woman Palms” 

Rhapis excelsa is probably the most well-known and broadly cultivated species,
simply adapting to most interiors and tropical or subtropical landscapes
all through the world. It has a mess of named varieties in inexperienced and
variegated varieties. 

Traditionally, R. excelsa have been used as basic decorative palms
for greater than 300 years. They had been cultivated by the Japanese elite in
the early 1600s, launched to Europe in 1774, and have become prized American
“parlor palms” through the 1850s. The recognition of this species might be
attributed to its ease of care, sturdiness, insect resistance, and lengthy

Rhapis excelsa consists of two teams: the widespread “Massive Woman Palm”
grown from seed or divisions, and the extremely refined “Miniature Woman Palms”
developed by Japanese lovers into named varieties by selective cloning. 

The “Massive Woman Palm” can develop to greater than 14′ (Four m) of peak. In contrast to
R. humilis which has tall, slender clusters of stems, R. excelsa clumps
can acquire monumental width, usually having a diameter as broad as their peak.
In 1939, Fairchild Tropical Gardens of Miami planted twelve single cane
divisions 6′ (2 m) aside; immediately, these multi-cane palms stand in a 10′
to 12′ (Three to Four m) tall hedge which is greater than 9′ (Three m) broad and 80′ (26
m) lengthy. 


Rhapis excelsa in China

Massive thick leaves with blunt ideas have broad segments, giving R. excelsa
its occasional title “broadleaf girl palm”. Its sturdy canes are lined
with coarse, darkish brown fiber. This species tolerates tropical and subtropical
temperatures from 20 to 100 levels F (-5 to 38 levels C) and can settle for
each humid and dry climates. It’s a prolific producer of rhizome offshoots
which provides fullness and offers a simple technique to extend numbers by
division. As well as, seed is often accessible. 

The inexperienced and variegated Japanese cultivars of Rhapis excelsa, collectively
often called “Miniature Woman Palms”, had been developed via selective cloning
of selection, uncommon specimens from Taiwan. Every named selection has a singular
leaf form and progress behavior. Due to a desire for miniature vegetation,
the Japanese propagate the slowest rising strains and additional “dwarf”
the palms by proscribing root methods in tiny pots, utilizing course sand or
small gravel, and limiting fertilizer functions. Beneath, the ‘CHIYODAZURU’
in a 5″ by 7″ (13 by 18 cm) bonsai pot is 10 years outdated and solely 24″ (60
cm) tall. 


Rhapis excelsa CHIYODAZURA variety in bonsai pot

Nonetheless, if these cultivars are given unrestricted progress situations,
some “miniatures” reminiscent of ‘Koban’, ‘Daruma’, and ‘Tenzan’ can finally
exceed 8′ (Three m) in peak. After I wrote the guide Secret of the Orient (McKamey
1983), the estimated most peak of Japanese cultivars was 4′ (1.Three m);
at Rhapis Gardens, we now have many specimens over 6′ (2 m) tall. This
attention-grabbing discovery has result in the nickname “Texas sized dwarfs,” though
I’m positive others can develop them simply as massive! Nonetheless, some cultivars such
as ‘Kodaruma’ and ‘Gyokuho’ are true dwarf Girls by staying comparatively
brief and reaching solely 4′ of peak after 30 years reminiscent of those proven

Rhapis excelsa KODARUMA variety at Disneyworld, Florida

Progress charges of Rhapis excelsa range with tradition and surroundings. In
business manufacturing with 80% shade and subtropical temperatures, the
gradual rising Miniature varieties can add 3″ to six” (7 to 15 cm) of peak
every year, whereas Massive Woman Palms often enhance 8″ to 12″ (20 to 30
cm). If Rhapis are grown indoors as houseplants, these charges lower significantly. 

Though some younger seedlings of widespread R. excelsa might first resemble
sure named varieties, most will finally develop the identical fundamental “commonplace”
look and leaf form. In distinction, the named varieties will keep
their distinctive traits, a results of long-term selective cloning. 

Variegated Rhapis are seedling sports activities. Inside a random group of 10,000
seedlings, maybe solely 5 will sprout striped leaves, and of those simply
one might stay a secure plant and retain a superb striping sample. This
is then propagated by division to offer the premise of a brand new variegated
cultivar. In Japan, just a few named varieties show excellent stripes
on each leaf; most have random striping patterns – no two are precisely
alike. Often, new offsets will carry the striping behavior of the leaf instantly
above on the “mom” cane. 


Rhapis excelsa ZUIKONISHIKI at Rhapis Gardens

Rhapis excelsa ‘Zuikonishiki’ is among the hottest variegateds,
being straightforward to develop and a prolific producer of offshoots. Nonetheless, it typically
yields lower than 40% selection pups with the opposite 60% being an attention-grabbing
assortment of these having extra inexperienced than white stripes or extra white
than inexperienced. The uncommon, very best variegated pups are categorized ‘Ayanishiki’
whereas these with largely white leaves are renamed ‘Zuiko-Lutino’ . The
creamy white stripes in these cultivars comprise “golden chlorophyll” which
can assist progress and maintain the plant. The ‘Zuiko-Lutino’ proven beneath
is in a chic 7″ (18 cm) Japanese Nishiki Pot with a “wave and fowl”

Rhapis excelsa ZUIKO-LUTINO variegated variety

Different varieties reminiscent of ‘Kotobuki’ proven beneath have stripes with albino
cells that are extraordinarily delicate to robust gentle or excessive warmth. These
sorts are greatest grown in shaded, cool areas. 

Rhapis excelsa KOTOBUKI variegated

On a secure plant, a variegated sample can’t be experimentally managed
or modified, however brightness of stripes on some cultivars might be enhanced
with correct tradition. An instance is ‘Chiyodazuru’, one of the crucial widespread
in Japan, which has slim stripes on inexperienced leaves. Intense daylight and
warmth can fade leaves, or robust fertilizer can masks, however not delete, the
stripes. For greatest coloration, this selection wants cool temperatures, medium gentle,
and medium fertilizer charges – simply achieved by rising indoors or
in dense shade. 

Rhapis excelsa CHIYODAZURU variegated variety

Different Japanese Cultivars of Rhapis  

Japanese horticulturists have developed greater than 100 named cultivars.
Whereas most of those are types of R. excelsa, known as KANNONCHIKU, others
are inexperienced and variegated cultivars of SHUROCHIKU, translated “Rhapis humilis”.
Though these will finally attain 6′ (2 m) in peak and do resemble
a fragile, dwarf type of the towering R. humilis grown in California,
they might show to be an Indochinese species extra carefully associated to R.
subtilis. A number of inflorescences await inspection by Dr. Dransfield and
Ms. Fitt, so the thriller might quickly be solved. 


Japanese SHUROCHIKU Rhapis

These conversant in Japanese cultivars might have observed or obtained
Girls reminiscent of Rhapis ‘Himedaruma’ categorized as a KANNONCHIKU (R. excelsa);
nevertheless, it’s famous within the guide The Miniature Palms of Japan” to be of
the “imported group” (i.e. from locations apart from Taiwan and southern China).
On inspection, ‘Himedaruma’ seems to be R. laosensis as is one other selection
‘Otohime’. I believe, due to this fact, that among the curious cultivars of
KANNONCHIKU might be recognized as among the misplaced species of Beccari
and Burret. Time and taxonomy will inform. 

Rhapis are an interesting group of palms, having captured the love and
admiration of plant collectors for hundreds of years. The attraction and magnificence of
this numerous household of Woman palms present limitless selections for everybody…




LIGHT:  In landscapes, all species of Rhapis desire filtered gentle
or partial shade. Find in east, south, and north exposures or beneath a
cover of tall bushes. Placement in full solar with out safety will trigger
unattractive yellow-green leaves, stress, and gradual progress. Indoors, all
Rhapis develop greatest in vivid, oblique gentle close to a window or skylight. R.
excelsa is probably the most adaptable to low gentle areas. 

WATERING:  Rhapis ought to be totally watered by soaking or drenching
the whole root system. R. subtilis should be stored continuously moist; if it
dries, it’ll decline or die. R. excelsa, R. humilis, and R. laosensis
ought to be allowed to change into nearly dry between thorough irrigations. Twice
every year, potted Rhapis ought to be drenched a number of occasions (leached) to
flush impurities and extra soluble salts. 

SOIL:  Rhapis will develop in nearly any well-drained soil, however desire
a combination wealthy in humus (pH 5.5 to 7). Pot in African violet sort combine or
plant barely above floor stage, amending your backyard soil as wanted.
All roots and the bottom of canes ought to be lined to retain moisture and
stimulate the addition of latest offshoots. 

POTTING:  Woman Palms desire to be barely root-bound. Soil density
ought to be agency – not free, not packed – and permit water to slowly filter

FERTILIZER:  All Rhapis are comparatively slow-growing vegetation and
want little or no fertilizer. As a suggestion, apply only one/2 the really helpful
charge required by different vegetation in your house or panorama. Let leaf coloration
be a information: wealthy inexperienced signifies that fertilizer ranges are satisfactory; apply
vitamins when a slight general yellowish coloration is detected. 

Rhapis can endure from hint aspect deficiencies which produce yellowing
leaves, distorted new progress, or normal decline. Because the actual trigger
of a deficiency can usually be exhausting to find out with out laboratory assessments,
use a weak resolution of fish emulsion each time an issue is suspected. 

A WARNING FOR EXCESSES:  Rhapis and lots of different palms might be extremely
delicate to extra boron, fluoride, and chlorine in water provides, which
will trigger quick spreading black tip burn. Use the purest water accessible
till the issue is corrected. 

BROWN TIPS:  Slight brown tip fringe is widespread on all Rhapis. Black
tip burn will not be typical and might be precipitated from improper watering, over
fertilizing, and different excesses. 

Broken leaf ideas might be trimmed with serrated scissors (pinking shears).
Lower according to the leaf tip, transfer the scissors barely sideways and
lower once more. 

DRIED AND BROWN LEAVES:  Leaf injury is often precipitated from excessive
warmth, permitting the palm to dry out, or not totally watering the whole
root system. 

PESTS:  Scale is the enemy of all Rhapis; spider mites are a serious
drawback for R. subtilis. Since scale can cover within the fibrous leaf bases,
contact sprays reminiscent of malathion are seldom efficient. A systemic insecticide
which is absorbed into the plant system offers the perfect safety or
management. Since spraying Rhapis in sizzling summer season climate could cause leaf burn,
use a systemic insecticide labeled for soil software or spray solely throughout
early morning hours. 

ROOT ROTS:  Rhapis are very proof against pathogens; nevertheless, Fusarium
oxysporum, Pythium, Rhizoctonia, and Penicillium (pink rot) can periodically
infect Rhapis. Use a “broad spectrum” root fungicide labeled as a soil
drench to offer prevention or management. 

LETHAL YELLOWING:  Rhapis palms are usually not recognized to be vulnerable
to this deadly illness. Through the extreme outbreak of L.Y. in Miami, Florida,
all species of Rhapis grown within the space remained utterly unaffected. 

FREEZE DAMAGE:  Protected Woman Palms can usually survive temperatures
beneath their really helpful low. The tallest canes could also be broken or frozen,
however present safety for decrease, youthful offshoots. In excessive lows, all
seen canes will die, however new offshoots might sprout by summer season. 

DIVISION:  The perfect time to divide Rhapis is throughout spring or early
summer season when the palms are actively rising. Single cane divisions ought to
have not less than six leaves and a number of other roots earlier than being separated. Pot
into nicely drained soil utilizing containers simply barely bigger than the foundation
system. Take away a number of decrease leaves on every cane to scale back stress. Place
in a damp space or mist each day till the palms resume energetic progress. 

SEED:  Bear in mind that R. subtilis seed appears to be like precisely like R. excelsa
which matches Guihaia argyrata, a lately found Chinese language relative
which sprouts grass-like leaves with silvery undersides (Principes 29 (1).
To keep away from surprises and a potential combination of potluck palm seed, business
growers ought to know their seed sources. 


Rhapis excelsa & Guihaia argyrata seedlings compared

Rhapis often flower throughout spring, want hand-pollination for greatest
crop, and are harvested in late winter. After cleansing the seed, frivolously
press into well-drained soil and hold moist. Seed ought to sprout inside
50 to 120 days. Immature seedlings of R. excelsa and R. subtilis look alike
till about two years of age when character leaves start to tell apart
one from one other. 

AIR LAYERING:  Sure, Rhapis excelsa might be airlayered. 

VARIEGATEDS:  Simple to develop, however require wonderful tradition and good
high quality water for greatest look and progress. They like 70-90% shade
or oblique inside gentle, and temperatures between 60 to 80 levels R
(15 to 26 levels C) to take care of progress and vigor. Striped Rhapis are slower
glowing than inexperienced varieties and require much less fertilizer – too little is way
higher than an excessive amount of which can trigger leaf burn and root injury. 

LANDSCAPE USE:  Rhapis excelsa adapts to most tropical and subtropical
landscapes. R. subtilis thrives in heat, humid areas. R. humilis prefers
subtropical landscapes with cool summer season nights. 



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  Literature Cited and Additional Studying  

BARRY, DAVID. 1973 Two Rhapis palms from Thailand. Principes
17: 30-32 

DRANSFIELD, JOHN, LEE SHU-KANG, AND WEI FA-NAN. 1985 Guihaia, a brand new
coryphoid genus from China and
Vietnam. Principes 29: 1-12. 

MCKAMEY, LYNN. 1983 Secret
of the Orient
, Rhapis palms. Rhapis Gardens Publications of
Gregory, Texas U.S.A. 

MCKAMEY, LYNN. 1983. The Americanization of dwarf Rhapis excelsa.
Principes 27: 99-104. 

of Japan.

YAMAGUCHI, KIYO-O AND DAVID BARRY. 1974. The Tradition of Rhapis in
Principes 18: 75-83. 

Observe: The again problems with Principes listed above can be found at $12
every (postpaid) from the Worldwide Palm Society Enterprise Workplace, P.
O. Field 1897, Lawrence, KS, 66044. 


My because of Richard Douglas for proof studying this text and for
his useful feedback, to Paul Drummond who over time has shared invaluable
details about “Woman Palms”, and to my husband Kenneth McKamey who by no means
complains about taking yet one more picture of Rhapis for me. 


This text was printed in Principes Quantity 33: 129-139 (No.3, July
1989).  The journal is now known as PALMS and different articles
might be discovered on the Worldwide Palm Society’s web site at www.palms.org 

COPYRIGHT (c) 1989-1999
Lynn McKamey; Rhapis Gardens, P.O.B. 287, Gregory, Texas 78359.  All
rights reserved.  This text is probably not reproduced in any method
or means with out permission.

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