Common Name: Lipstick palm, Red sealing wax palm, Rajah wax palm, Maharajah palm, Sealing-wax palm, Sumatra wax palm and Red candle-wax palm.
Etymology: Cyrtostachys: from Greek ‘cyrto’ meaning bent or curved and ‘stachys’ meaning ear of grain (spike). renda: Malayan word for palm.
Origin: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra and Borneo (Indonesia). Clearing of its natural forests for palm oil, mining, agriculture and all the other usual suspects has placed this palm into the vulnerable list. It is protected in Indonesia.
Description: Dense, multi-stemmed, clustering palm growing up to 16m tall. It has a bright red crown-shaft and leaf-sheath
Foliage: Large, pinnately compound leaves with around 50 leaflets of around 45cm long (interesting fact: Compound leaf formation allows plant to catch maximum sunshine for photosynthesis while reducing the overall weight of the leaf).
Trunk/stem: Formed from leaf bases. Stem is green/yellow and bamboo like up to petioles which are bright red. Old stems are grey.
Flowers: The flowers are found in hanging raceme up to 60cm long below foliage that go from green to red. This species is monoecious.
Fruit: Ovoid, 1.4cm in diameter turning from green to black as ripens.
Growth Requirements: This species natural environment is the moist, peat swamp forests of the tropics so it prefers a rich, loamy soil that is kept moist, sheltered from winds, humid, full sun to part shade position. It is both intolerant of temperatures that fall below about 15 degrees Celsius (this is usually fatal) and of very dry conditions (where it will quickly wither and die). It will handle however water-logged conditions. This palm is strictly limited to the warm tropics.
Uses: Feature palm with striking red crown-shaft, suitable for parks, gardens (both big and small), bird attracting for fruit, screen plant, boggy conditions such as the edge of bodies of water like ponds, dams and reservoirs. Some more traditional uses include as a food (communities in Sumatra eat the palm hearts, this of coarse kills the plant), flooring, thatching and the hard outer wood is used to make darts. This palm is also the symbol of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Propagation: It can be grown from fresh seed that should germinate in 2-3 months. Older seeds can take up to 12 months. Can be also be propagated by division of suckers.
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