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The Exotic Rainforest
Plants in the Exotic Rainforest Collection

Ravenea rivularis Jum. & H. Perrier
Majesty Palm

This beautiful "house palm" is not a "house palm"!   My youngest daughter watched her Majesty Palm slowly yellow and die in her living room and kept calling to ask why it was not doing well.  Seems the people who sold it to her convinced her it was a great "house plant".  Believe me, it's not.  Outdoors, perhaps in south Florida or Southern California, the plant can do very well.  Some growers even grow it in Georgia since it can tolerate a very light freeze.  

The palm can make a very nice landscape palm, but it can be fussy.  Ravenea rivularis likes lots and lots of water and bright light, all scientific references say full sunlight.  But there is a requirement!  I once tried to grow five of these Majesty palms in my front yard in South Florida and all five died a slow death.   I finally went to see a large grower of these palms in Homestead, FL and the trick is the water!  They need lots of water! 

In our atrium the palm gets a lot of humidity since it is next to the pond, bright filtered light and, during the summer, almost direct overhead light which is filtered by the Lexan skin that covers the building.  The plant is just over 10 feet tall (3 meters plus) and grows so fast we have to remove numerous fronds each year to keep it from blocking the walkway and the view of the pond.  And the palm likes fertilizer.  Without control, such as frequent removal of fronds, the palm can grow to over 40 feet in height!

Despite the fact it is commonly grown and sold in the United States, it is considered a near endangered species in the plant's native Madagascar.  In its home range the species is commonly found along river banks near the fringes of rain forests.  As a result, this palm loves water!  Ravenea rivularis is frequently offered at discount stores as a house plant.  But it's not a good house plant unless you've got a greenhouse and are willing to water it often. 

Don't let your local department store or nursery salesperson try to convince you otherwise.  It's simply requires too much light and water to be in the house!

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