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Latania lontaroides young leaf

Latania lontaroides young leaf
Source: B.navez

Latania lontaroides or red latan palm is a palm tree that originated in the Mascarene archipelago but is now found only on the island of Reunion, where its habitat is also shrinking. It is classified as an endangered species but is widely grown as ornamental palm.

The striking feature of this palm are the red leaves and petiole at a young age. As the palm grows older, the red color disappears gradually.

It is not frost resistant but can be grown as a houseplant or in a warm greenhouse.

Description:

The red palm latan can reach 12 m height but grows quite slowly. The stipe is gray, smooth and slightly swollen at the base. It measures up to 25 cm in diameter and exhibits rings which are the scars of fallen leaves.

The leaves are fan shaped, red with red petiole the first years, later green. The edges of the leaf and the main leaf veins are finely toothed. The leaves are stiff and worn by a petiole of 1-1.5 m long. They form a crown of 5-6 m in diameter.

The plant is dioecious: male and female flowers appear on separate individuals. In spring it produces small yellow flowers in clusters of almost 2 m long, which appear between the leaves.

The fruit measures 4-5 cm in diameter, is spherical or nearly spherical. It is brownish green, fleshy, 2-3 cm long and contains a single seed inside. The seed is pointed at one end and flattened at the other end. The flesh is edible but very bland.

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Red latan, Red latan palm

Synonyms:

Cleophora lontaroides, Latania borbonica, Latania commersonii, Latania rubra, Latania plagaecoma

Etymology:

Latania: derived from the native name
Lontaroides: because of to the similarity with palm trees of the genus Lontarus

Latania lontaroides

Latania lontaroides
Source: Kenraiz

Origin:

Mascarene, Reunion

Habitat:

Cliffs and canyons along the coast.

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 10-11, -1 °C

Care:

Soil:

Tolerates different types of soil as long as they are well drained.

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade.

Water:

Grows best in moist but well drained soil.

Fertilizer:

Fertilize 2 times per year with solid fertilizer for palms.

Propagation:

From seed.

Sowing instructions:

  • let the seeds soak 1-2 days in lukewarm water, changing the water several times a day
  • plant in light sowing soil
  • mist the substrate so that it is damp but not wet
  • cover the pots to prevent evaporation
  • 25 °C
  • germination time: 1 week to 3 months

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