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Location

  • San Diego Zoo

Species Collection

Gardens

Plants: Species

Palm: Fishtail Palm Caryota urens

FAMILY: ARECACEAE (Palm Family)

You can see from its leaves why they call this a fishtail palm. But leaves aren't the only thing that make this Caryota urens unique. Near the end of its 25-year life, the palm grows a number of male and female flower spikes that are 15 to 25 feet (4.5 to 7.6 meters) long and take two years to flower and fruit. Then the palm slowly dies and new plants spring up from the germinating fruit seeds. If you should happen to see some of the seeds, however, don't touch them with your hand or put them in your pocket: they're coated with oxalic acid crystals that burn!


The San Diego Zoo has seven species of fishtail palms that can be seen many places in the Zoo, including Flamingo Lagoon, Sun Bear Forest, and Wings of Australasia.