Caryota maxima

Common name

giant mountain fishtail palm


Stem: Solitary, upright, to 30-35 m tall and 30 cm in diameter, older palms ringed with slender, widely-spaced leaf scars Leaves: Bipinnate, induplicate, to 7 m long, with dull green, pendulous leaflets growing in one plane. The leaflets are obdeltoid and praemorse. Flowers and fruit: Inflorescences are massive, 1-1.5 m long with many pendant branches with staminate flowers and pistillate flowers on the same inflorescence. Fruits are up to 2.5 cm long and pink to dark reddish-purple when ripe.

Diagnostic features

Solitary palms with bipinnate, praemorse leaflets

May be confused with

Caryota mitis, but C. mitis is a clustering, multi-stem palm.


Native to southern China through Southeast Asia to Java

Additional comments

Extreme care is required when handling the fruits, in which calcium oxylate crystals are found.

The large, pendulous inflorescences of this palm appear on a mature palm at each node (leaf scar ring), ripening from the highest to the lowest. Then the palm dies.

Scientific name

Caryota maxima Blume




Caryota aequatorialis Ridl.

Caryota obtusa, var. aequatorialis Becc

Last Updated May 2014