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Ptychococcus lepidotus

Bow Palm

Despite its introduction into cultivation some years ago, this palm from the highlands of New Guinea has remained a great rarity. It is native to rainforests above 1000 m (3300 ft.) but also widely distributed around human settlements up to 3000 m (9800 ft.) over much of the island, where it used to be planted for the very durable wood from the outer layer of the trunk that was used for bows and spear heads. Its slender, smooth trunk can grow to about 10 m tall. Like many rainforest palms it starts out fairly thin and widens as the plant reaches some height with better light conditions in the canopy. A crownshaft carries the full crown of large, dark glossy green, upright to spreading leaves with long, wide leaflets that have jagged tips. The large, orange fruits each contain a very hard, woody and heavily winged and sculpted seed. The closely related P. paradoxus by comparison has a darker, almost black seed with a much thinner shell (endocarp) that is more deeply grooved. In cultivation it is best suited to a cool and humid tropical climate, in sun or shade, although it could surely be made to grow in some warm temperate climates as well, as long as it does not experience any freezing temperatures. While expectations of its cold hardiness had originally been overestimated, it does have some tolerance of cool conditions.

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If you wish to read more on palm cultivation, we highly recommend Ornamental Palm Horticulture by Timothy K. Broschat and Alan W. Meerow, available in our bookshop.

Ratings and comments reflect individual experiences and the views of our visitors. They do not necessarily describe the most appropriate methods, nor are they necessarily valid for all seeds or plants of this species. Germination and plant cultivation success depends on many different factors; nevertheless, these experiences will hopefully aid you in your effort to get the best germination results from our seeds and the best growth results from your plants.

We recommend:
The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft, Scott Zona

2nd edition
Completely revised and updated

Hardcover - 528 pages
11 x 8.5 inches

Our rating:
Suitable for: all

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is the definitive account of all palms that can be grown for ornamental and economic use. Palms are often underutilized as a result of their unfamiliarity—even to tropical gardeners. To help introduce these valuable plants to a new audience, the authors have exhaustively documented every genus in the palm family.
825 species are described in detail, including cold hardiness, water needs, height, and any special requirements. Generously illustrated with more than 900 photos, including photos of several palm species that have never before appeared in a general encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is as valuable as an identification guide as it is a practical handbook. Interesting snippets of history, ethnobotany, and biology inform the text and make this a lively catalog of these remarkable plants.

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