Family: Arecaceae Origin: Madagascar
Commonly known as the Golden Cane palm, this palm is extremely popular in landscapes and gardens not only here in Australia, but in many parts of the world. Where it gets too cold to cultivate outside, Golden Cane palms make wonderful and happy houseplants. In fact, this plant has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. This palm offers many uses in style, and is a staple in any tropical or sub-tropical garden.
Under cultivation, this palm generally grows to 6 metres in height, sometimes taller. It doesn’t have a central trunk, but grows several stems from the base, making its growth about as wide as its height. When left on its own, it’s good at creating many suckering stems. The palm fronds arch prettily out and down, and the leaves will die off from the bottom as the palm directs energies to the highest fronds, creating naked stems. The name Golden Cane comes from the yellow color of the petioles, and the yellow color of the inflorescence and fruits.
This palm grows many stems and suckers from the base and needs to be heavily pruned to discourage looking unruly. If not managed, Golden Cane will spread much further and look unsightly.
The inflorescences of Golden Cane are borne on peduncles under the crown shafts and above the naked stalks.
Each leaf forms a “V” shape and is wonderfully filled with around 100 leaflets on each stem. There are normally 6-8 leaves on each long rachise. The fronds will drop off from the bottom, but a better look can be attained by removing dying and spent leaves. Expired fronds tend to get caught in-between stalks.
Fruits are shaped like olives, each about 2cm long and are usually yellow in color but they can also sometimes be darker or purple.
Golden Cane is known for being a palm under planted with seedlings from its own seeds. Take a cue from this and collect fresh seeds to start new palms. Seedlings will take over an area unless the seedlings are mowed over to keep from growing.
Golden Cane can tolerate some amounts of shade, but enjoys a day of full direct sun exposure. They are adaptable to a wide range of soil types and conditions, but do best in moisture-retentive yet well-draining soil. They do not need to be fed extensively once established, but new specimens benefit from adding some amount of broken down organic matter into the planting hole when being planted. Allow Golden Cane lots of space, as this palm enjoys spreading out. They make great windbreaks and screening plants, and provide as much beauty as function in the tropical landscape. Due care must be taken to keep the seedlings from taking over, and many horticulturists agree that keeping the lower stems and fronds cut and clean makes this palm look better. Good and aggressive management to keep from spreading will help keep this palm’s willingness to expand in check.
Interestingly, while this palm is prolific in Brisbane it is considered rare in its native environment.
Arborists often see damage they have caused from being planted near pools and on retaining walls. The trunk of Golden Cane palms can easily damage structures and even their roots destroy retaining walls.