Rhapis excelsa; Synonyms: R. flabelliformis
Plant Family: Belongs to the Arecaceae or Palm family, which includes the Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera), the imposing Century Palm (Corypha umbraculifera), and the stately West Indian Royal Palm (Roystonea oleracea).
Description: Very attractive ornamental palm; hardy and easily grown; indoors: grown singly or in small multi-stemmed clumps, large clumps outdoors; outdoor clumps often having a diameter as wide as plant is tall; plant slender, relatively short and slow growing; stems up to 14 ft tall (4.3 m) and to 1.25 in. diameter (3 cm), clothed in coarse, brown, fibrous material; leaves dark, glossy-green, fan-shaped, divided into 5-12 or more broad, ribbed, radiating segments, 10-14 in. long (26-36 cm) and 1-3 in. wide (2.5-8 cm), joined at base, and to slender petiole up to 18 in. long (45 cm); flowers borne in small, normally green inflorescence, 4-6 in. long (10-15 cm), at top of plant; fruit small, white, fleshy one-seeded round drupe, 0.25-0.4 in. diameter (7-10 mm); apart from popular, standard variety, several dwarf variegated varieties have been developed in Asia.
Natural Habitat: Tropical and subtropical; however, not known in wild, with all known plants coming from ancient cultivated groups in S. China.
Origin and Distribution: Apparently native to S. China; adapts to a wide range of climates, soils, and environments; now distributed worldwide; in Dominica Botanic Gardens, two large clumps flank southern entrance to cricket field at end of Palm Alley; propagation primarily through prolific rhizome production, though viable seed also produced.