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Plants: Species

Lo'ulu Palm Prichardia ssp.

FAMILY: ARECACEAE (Palm Family)

Many palms from all around the world grow at their best in the warm, volcanic lands of Hawaii, but only one genus, the Prichardia, is a Hawaiian native. The lo'ulu palm can be found throughout many tropical Pacific islands, including most of the seven major Hawaiian Islands. Unfortunately, with the continual introduction of nonnative flora and fauna, the native habitat of Prichardia palms is in jeopardy.


The beautiful lo'ulu palms tend to be slower growing fan palms than the Washingtonia fan palms found growing all over Southern California. Most have solitary trunks and green palmate leaves, although some can be found with a blue-green hue. Long flower spikes arch out from the crown and produce large, dark seeds. Prichardias tend to be self-cleaning palms, meaning that when their old fronds die, they fall to the ground; this differs from other fan palms that produce a "petticoat" of hanging, dead leaves.


Of the 23 known Hawaiian Prichardia palms, the San Diego Zoo is currently growing 16 species. These palms can be found throughout the Zoo, with a high concentration at the Hawaiian Native Plant Gardens Reptile Mesa.