Kerriodoxa elegans

Kerriodoxa elegans
Kew Gardens

Kerriodoxa elegans or white elephant palm is a palm tree with beautiful, fan-shaped leaves with white underside.

It grows in only 2 places in Thailand, near the coast.

It can grow in the garden only in USDA zones 10 and 11 but can be grown elsewhere as a pot plant on the patio or as a house plant.

Because the plant is dioecious and not widely cultivated, seeds are quite expensive.

Description:

Kerriodoxa elegans is a palm tree with mature trunks up to 4.5 m high and a diameter of 13-20 cm. They are generally light brown and smooth with closely spaced rings on the older parts. The younger parts are covered with narrow triangular leaf bases.

The leaf’s crown is 3-3,6 m wide but usually 2.4-2.7 m long.

The circular leaves are 1.8-2.4 m wide, with tapered, narrow lanceolate, once-folded segments and divisions extending to a third or almost halfway through the leaf. The sturdy black petioles are 90 cm long. The leaf segments are slightly hanging at their ends. A small hastula sits on top of the leaf near its center. Leaf color is light to moderate green above, the lower surface is covered with a short but dense white tomentum.

The male inflorescences are very branched and about 30 cm tall, the female inflorescences are about the same size but sparsely branched. Both are white and have small whiteish flowers.

The fruits are round, 5 cm in diameter, creamy yellow when they are ripe.

Usage:

Ornamental

Nomenclature:

Common names:

King Thai palm, white elephant palm

Synonyms:

None

Etymology:

Kerriodoxa: in honor of Arthur Francis George Kerr, an Irish botanist (1877-1942) and Greek doxa (glory)
Elegance: from the Latin elegans (elegant)

Origin:

Phuket and Kao Sok National Park (Thailand)

Habitat:

Undergrowth in low mountainous and wet forests

Hardiness:

USDA zone 10-11
Also in USDA zone 9 in favorable microclimates

Kerriodoxa elegans

Kerriodoxa elegans

Care:

Soil:

Rich, well draining

Light:

Light, partial shadow

Water:

Keep moist all year round

Feed:

Organic fertilizer (preferably horse manure), 1-2 times a year

Wind:

Must be sheltered from the wind

Propagation:

Seed

Sowing instructions:

  • sow fresh seeds immediately
  • sow in moist sowing substrate
  • 25-30 °C
  • germination: a few weeks
  • protect the seedlings from direct sunlight

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