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The Exotic Rainforest
Plants in the Exotic Rainforest Collection
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Chrysalidocarpus lutescens H. Wendl.
Areca Palm, Butterfly Palm

The Areca Palm is an easy to grow plant from Indian Ocean Island of Madagascar.  It's almost too easy to grow!  This is another of those palms that is frequently sold in grocery stores as a "house plant" It is not a not a "house plant".    For one thing, Chrysalidocarpus lutescens loves sun.  Lots more sun than you can likely ever give it in your home.  For another, it is prone to grow large.  Perhaps 20 feet tall!  Now if you have a sun room in your home that is mostly glass and has very high ceilings, perhaps you can grow this plant as a "house plant".  Otherwise, don't waste your time and money killing a perfectly good plant!  The palm is commonly used as a landscape plant in the southern portions of Florida.  One of our neighbors had a thick "hedge" grown from these palms.  I always thought it made an ugly hedge. They are high maintenance.  The fronds grow fast, then yellow and die frequently.  You'll find yourself out in the yard often cutting off sad  looking foliage.  But if you keep it nice, the plant can be beautiful!  Especially if it is grown as a specimen plant with few other large plants around.  The Areca grows a large, thick trunk in clumps that get ever wider and wider.  That's likely why it is popular with plant growers and sellers.  It grows quickly and reproduces often.  This is another plant that grows well in relatively poor soil.  It does great in the sandy soil of Miami and South Florida.  But if you're growing one as a specimen give it good, rich, well drained soil mixed with peat and sand.  Keep it damp, but not soaking wet.  The Areca was reportedly introduced from Madagascar to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands before the turn of the 20th century and has spread throughout the Caribbean and southern United States ever since.  A beautiful palm, but think twice before you one.


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