538 Livistona decipiensCommon Names: ribbon fan palm Family: Arecacea (palm Family)
Tall and slender this palm is a graceful beauty. The symmetrical crown is nearly spherical and held atop an arrow-straight trunk that will typically reach heights of 30 feet. The costapalmate leaves grow up to 9 ft (2.7 m) wide and are held on 6 ft (1.8 m) stems. Costapalmate means that the leaves are midway between palmate (shaped like the palm of your hand) and pinnate (feather-shaped.) Livistona decipiens has narrow folded segments 5-6 ft (1.5-1.8m) in length that are 0.75 in (1.9 cm). About 80 of these segments radiate out from the stem to hang like delicate ribbons toward the ground inspiring this plant's common name "ribbon fan palm". Flowers are yellow and are borne on a 4 ft (1.2 m) inflorescence that is hidden among the leaves. The small black fruit is about 1/2 in (1.3 cm) in diameter.
Livistona decipiens, the ribbon fan palm, is native to the east coast of Queensland, Australia. It's graceful form and robust nature have earned this palm a place in tropical and sub-tropical landscapes around the world.
CultureRibbon fan palm happily adapts to many types of soil except those that are wet and soggy. Light: Will thrive in part shade to bright sunny exposures. Moisture: Drought tolerant but young palms will need watering until established. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 11. I have had one of these palms growing in my Zone 8B garden for the past 8 years. Even though it is still very small it seems to be able to handle temperatures to about 20°F (-6.7°C) with no problem. In January 1999 the temperature fell to 16°F (-8.9°C) (one night, the leaves were not burned but fungus attacked and rotted out the bud. When this happened a few years ago I was able to save the plant with applications of fungicide and pampering. Propagation: By seed. Plant seeds 1/4 in (0.6 cm) deep and keep moist, they will germinate in 4 to 10 weeks.
Ribbon fan palm is an asset to any landscape. Plant where it's delicate leaves will not be shredded by prevailing winds. Plant in an opening among trees or up against a wall or structure that can serve as a backdrop so that it's lovely form may be appreciated. Small specimens do well in containers and grow rapidly enough to provide satisfaction to impatient gardeners.
Attractive and tough, graceful and durable, consider adding this drought tolerant palm to your warm area landscape. Those gardening in colder zones should consider enjoying this palm as a container plant - it's easy to grow indoors if you have a bright area for it to share. You can obtain palms in Florida and other warm areas from nurseries specializing in palms. There are also several mail order nurseries that will ship young specimens to you.
Jack Scheper 03/27/99; updated 1/25/09