Archontophoenix purpurea

Archontophoenix purpurea
Source: Forest & Kim Starr

Archontophoenix purpurea or Mount Lewis King Palm is one of the most striking species of the genus with its purple crownshaft and large, bright red fruit.

It is a barely hardy palm tree that tolerates only -2 °C.

As it is the slowest growing species of the genus Archontophoenix, it can be kept indoors for a number of years before it becomes too high.

Description:

This palm tree grows up to 25 m in height. The stipe can measure up to 45 cm in diameter and is expanded at the base. The upper part of the stem is smooth. The lower part shows slightly sunken leaf scars of up to 30 cm wide. The stipe is green to white-green.

There are 7-15 slightly recurved leaves of up to 6 m long, with 55-85 pinnae on each side, up to 105 cm long and 7.5 cm wide; they are rigid, shiny green on top and silver at the underside. New leaves often have a bronze tinge. The crown shaft is 105-150 cm long, plum-colored and even red when a leaf has just fallen. The petiole is up to 40 cm long and 12 cm wide.

The inflorescence is 50-135 cm long and 65 cm wide. The fruit is ellipsoid to globose, to 2.5 cm long and 2 cm wide and bright red when ripe. The seeds are almost spherical, up to 2.3 cm long and 1.8 cm wide, light brown and shiny.

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Mount Lewis King Palm, Purple Alexandra Palm, Purple King Palm, Purple Piccabean Palm

Etymology:

Archontophoenix: from the Greek archon (ruler) and phoinix (palm, date palm)
Purpurea: from the Latin purpureus (purple)

Origin:

Mount Lewis in Queensland (Australia)

Habitat:

Tropical rainforest and swamps



Hardiness:

USDA zones 9-11, -2 °C

Archontophoenix purpurea crown shaft

Archontophoenix purpurea crown shaft
Source: Forest & Kim Starr

Care:

Exposure:

Young plants need partial shade, older specimens tolerate sun or partial shade

Soil:

Rich in humus

Water:

Keep the soil moist. In its habitat, it can even grow in wetlands. Do not let the soil dry out between waterings.

Fertilizer:

Slow release fertilizer for palm trees, twice a year

Propagation:

From seed.

Sowing instructions:

  • sow in the spring
  • sow in moist soil
  • temperature: 20-25 °C
  • germination time: 6 weeks to 3 months
  • repot when the seedlings are big enough to handle

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