Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 618 Dypsis lutescens

Common Names: areca palm, golden cane palm, Madagascar palm, Areca lutescens Family: Arecacea (palm Family)
Image Gallery

golden cane palm
A screen of golden cane palms provides a handsome background for a bed of annuals at Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida.


Utility and Aesthetics. These words perfectly describe Dypsis lutescens, commonly known as the golden cane palm. Often referred to as the 'areca palm' (though not in that genus), the golden cane palm is a very common sight in the tropics and sub-tropics. It is often taken for granted but deserves more recognition and appreciation.

The golden cane palm can grow up to 20 ft (6 m) tall, although it is usually smaller. Six to eight leaves on long petioles (leaf stems) arise from the main trunk and gracefully arch outward and downward. Each leaf has about 80-100 leaflets which are arranged on the leaf stem in a shallow V. The common name derives from the beautiful golden yellow color of the petioles.

The yellow flowers are borne in branches about 3 ft (1 m) long that emerge from the tops of the stems. The fruits are about 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter and are yellow to purple.


Dypsis lutescens is often seen labeled as Chrysalidocarpus lutescens, an older name that is now considered a botanical synonym. The golden cane palm is native to Madagascar where, sadly, it is endangered and very rare. However it is very common in tropical landscapes around the world and is the most popular 'house plant' palm.


This is a very adaptable palm either indoors or out. Light: Golden cane palm will grow in sun or shade but looks its best in bright diffuse light (indoors or out). Moisture: It prefers moist, well-drained fertile soils. Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 - 11. Propagation: Golden cane palm can be propagated from seeds which take 2-6 months to germinate. Offshoots cut from the base of the palm can be used to start new plants.


Because of its dense and clustering growth habit, golden cane palm primarily is used as a shrub, hedge or screen in subtropical or tropical landscapes. Need a bare wall or fence covered by lush tropical vegetation? Want to create a little privacy from your neighbor? Need some green to hide a utility box, or unsightly refuse area? This palm makes it all possible! There is almost no limit to the uses of the golden cane palm, and because it is easy to grow and readily available, it has become a landscaping standard. It also can be used as a specimen palm to show of its golden canes, especially if older leaves are pruned. In cooler climates, golden cane palm is commonly used in interior design to add a tropical touch.


The 'areca' palm has become so common in tropical and subtropical landscapes that it is sometimes overlooked by horticulturists and designers. But its usefulness and stunning yellow stems are good reasons to stick with this tried and true palm. Furthermore, it is produced in large quantities for mass distribution, which makes it affordable and readily available virtually everywhere.

The specimens commonly available through discount stores and garden centers are field grown in very bright conditions, and should be acclimated gradually to the low light conditions found in most homes. Start newly purchased plants outdoors on a shady deck or beneath a tree. After a few weeks, move the plant to your brightest indoor location. On the other hand these 'arecas' are so inexpensive as to be disposable - even when abused they usually can be kept indoors for a couple of months before getting too shabby, at which point they can moved outdoors for rehabilitation or chucked into the compost pile!

Jeff Bielski 1/25/00; updated Steve Christman 2/26/00, 5/6/06, 2/22/08

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Dypsis species profiled on Floridata:

Dypsis cabadae

( cabada palm )

Dypsis lutescens

( areca palm, golden cane palm, Madagascar palm, Areca lutescens )

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