Common name: Traveller's palm, Traveller's tree
Native to: Madagascar
A large tree-like plant which is native to moist forests in Madagascar where it will grow over time to 10 to 16 metres tall.This plant features an unbranched trunk (to 30 cm diameter) which is topped by a fan-shaped single plane of enormous, long-stalked, banana-like, deep green leaves (20-30 per trunk). Each leaf blade is 5-10' long by 2-3' wide and appears at the end of a thick, grooved leaf stalk (petiole) which is as long or longer than the leaf blade. Leaf margins are sometimes split as is the case with some bananas.Up to 1.2 litres of rain water will accumulate in the expanded and cupped base of each leaf stalk, thus giving rise to the common names for this plant which suggests an emergency drinking water source for travellers in need. Showy 3-petaled white flowers in cymes rise from boat-shaped spathes in a manner reminiscent of this plant's bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia) relative. Flowers bloom in summer plus sporadically throughout the rest of the year. Flowers are followed by woody capsules (to 3 1/2" long) containing edible seeds covered by bright blue arils.
Native / exotic: Exotic
Aspect: Full sun
Flowers: Showy, large white strelitzia-like
Growth habit: Upright, fanning
Hardiness: Hardy but not drought resistant; keep away from strong wind
Height: Up to 18 metres
Spread: Up to 3 to 7 metres
Soil requirements: Prefers moist well-drained soils.
Uses: Accent plants in large areas for tropical effect.