Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Livistona Chinensis

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Livistona chinensis (09/02/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Livistona chinensis (09/02/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun

Flowering period: Late spring to early summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 10m

Eventual Spread: 4m

Hardiness: 9b – 11 (will tolerate lower temperatures with leaf damage)

Family: Arecaceae

Livistona chinensis is a single stemmed, evergreen upright palm tree. Its mid green leaves are palm shaped, deeply divided and up to 1.5m across.  Its trunk may achieve a diameter of up to 40cm. Its white flowers are borne on 1.8m long inflorescence, emerging from the leaf axils. Its blue/ black fleshy fruit are round and up to 25mm across.

Livistona chinensis, commonly known as the Chinese Fan Palm or Fountain Palm, is native to eastern Asia, including Japan, Taiwan and islands in the south China sea. In its native habitat it grows in forests as an understory plant when young and as climax vegetation when mature. This palm may be invasive in certain locations including Florida wetlands and some Caribbean islands including Bermuda.

Livistona chinensis Bark (09/02/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Livistona chinensis Bark (09/02/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

The etymological root of the binomial name Livistona is named after Patrick Murray (1643 – 1671), Lord of Livingston, a botanist whose plant collection formed the basis of the Edinburgh Botanic Garden. Chinensis is derived from the Latin chinensis meaning ‘ from China’.

The landscape architect may find Livistona chinensis useful as an attractive palm tree. It may successfully be planted as a street tree. Once established this tree is drought tolerant.

Ecologically, Livistona chinensis is of little value to UK wildlife.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Livistona chinensis their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Livistona chinensis Leaf (09/02/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Livistona chinensis Leaf (09/02/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Livistona chinensis prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Livistona chinensis requires little maintenance.


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