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GWAA

The Garden Writers Association


Last Update 12/04/11
Plant of the Month

 Veitchia merrillii syn. Adonidia merrillii

 Christmas Palm, Manila Palm, Adonidia, Dwarf Royal Palm

Christmas Palm is medium size palm that is a long-time favorite in South Florida yards. One of its common names is Dwarf Royal Palm because it resembles a "Mini-me" version of the Royal Palm (Roystonea regia).

Christmas Palm has a smooth slender grayish stem ringed by semi-circular frond scars. A 2-3' green crown shaft supports a crown of almost a dozen pinnate fronds. The fronds are arched to about 5' long with leaflets that are about 2' long and 2' wide. Where the crown shaft attaches to the trunk 2' long inflorescences sprout. Small butter-cream colored flowers form light green 1" long ovoid fruit. By December, most years, the fruit ripens and turns a crimson color.

Christmas Palm, click image to enlarge
Christmas Palm are often grown in doubles or triples. Click image to enlarge.

 

 

The phallic looking thing there is a sprouting Christmas Palm inflorescence. Click image to enlarge.
Christmas Palm inflorescence sprouting.
Click image to enlarge.

Christmas Palm flower close-up. Click image to enlarge.
Christmas Palm flower close-up.
Click image to enlarge.

Christmas red Christmas Palm fruit. Notice scars from spent fronds on trunk. Click image to enlarge.
Christmas red Christmas Palm fruit. Notice scars from spent fronds on trunk.
Click image to enlarge.

Plant Facts:

Common Name:  Christmas Palm, Manila Palm, Adonidia, Dwarf Royal Palm

Botanical Name:  Veitchia merrillii syn. Adonidia merrillii

Subfamily:  Arecaceae

Plant Type:  Solitary medium size palm tree often grown in doubles or triples

Origin:  Philippines and surrounding area

Zones: 10 - 12, does poorly in prolonged cold weather below mid-30's(F)

Height:  15-20', 6-11' frond spread

Rate of Growth: Moderately fast

Salt Tolerance: Moderate

 

Soil Requirements:  Well drained, sandy, fertile

Water Requirements: Moderate, water sparingly in winter

Nutritional Requirements: Feed regularly with palm fertilizer

Light Requirements: Full sun, tolerates some shade

Form:  Gracefully arched

Leaves:  Arching fronds to about 5' long with 40-60 strap-shaped leaflets that are about 2' long and 2' wide, scaly underneath.

Inflorescence: Short, born where crown shaft attaches to trunk, small butter-cream colored flowers. Attractive to bees.

Fruits: Pale green, turning Crimson Red

Pests or diseases:  Plant hopper (Myndus crudus) infects with lethal yellowing

Uses:  Specimen tree, Hurricane resistant, great for containers

Bad Habits:

Cost:  $$ - $$$ -- reasonable to expensive

Propagation:  Seed, germinates in 2-3 months

Source:  Betrocks Guide to Landscape Palms;  AMERICAN HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY A-Z ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GARDEN PLANTS

 

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