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What is a Majesty Palm?

H.R. Childress
H.R. Childress

Majesty palms probably got their name from their majestic appearance. These palm trees are native to the island of Madagascar. The Majesty palm is a popular decorative tree in tropical regions. It is also sold as a houseplant for cooler areas, though it can be difficult to grow indoors.

The scientific name for the Majesty palm is Ravenea rivularis. Other common names for this tree include the Majestic palm and the Majestie palm. The genus Ravenea is part of the family Arecaceae — the family to which all palm trees belong.

Majesty palms are native to Madagascar.
Majesty palms are native to Madagascar.

A Majesty palm tree grows very quickly until it reaches around 10 feet (3 m) in height. It continues growing more slowly after that, and can reach a final height anywhere between 15 feet (4.6 m) and over 40 feet (12.2 m). The gray trunks of the palms have a diameter around one foot (0.3 m), though there is a thicker, swollen portion at the base of the tree.

Majesties are a type of feather palms, which get their name from their long, extremely narrow leaves, which grow in a feather-like formation. The leaves are up to one and a half feet (0.45 m) long, with many leaves growing symmetrically from a single stem. Many stems grow from the trunk of the palm, and arch at the ends, forming a large crown at the top of the tree. These fronds are evergreen and maintain a bright green color year-round, so long as they are healthy.

The Majesty palm produces light yellow flowers. These are followed by red fruits. The seeds can be removed from fully-ripened fruits and dried if they are to be used to propagate the trees.

These palm trees grow best if they have at least some shade — for example, if they grow under other, taller trees. Exposure to full sun can cause the leaves to yellow, though the tree itself will survive. Majesty palms are also not very tolerant of cold weather. They can survive an occasional frost down to 25°F (-3°C), but they thrive in tropical climates that rarely or never receive freezes.

Another aspect of the tropical climate that these palms need is the humidity. The soil a Majesty palm grows in needs to be kept moist. These trees prefer neutral to mildly acidic soil that is very nutrient rich. For this reason, most soils will need to be fertilized frequently to keep Majesty palms happy.

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    • Majesty palms are native to Madagascar.
      By: Ruslan Olinchuk
      Majesty palms are native to Madagascar.