The fishtail palm is a unique looking palm because of its leaf design.
The leaves are bi-pinnate and shaped like the tails on fish--making this tree a favorite for landscaping. No other family of palm has these kinds of leaves.
There are a couple of different species in this group and we have several of these kinds of trees in our community.
Some are in clumps and some are stand alone but their leaves give them away on which family they belong to.
These trees mostly originate in Asia, the South Pacific and India.
It has arrived in the Caribbean and southern Florida by either seeds or imports for landscaping.
Young trees and seedlings are perfect for container gardening.
They will grown in full sun-part sun and do best in a tropical or sub-tropical climate with lots of moisture.
The soil should drain well and the roots should not be left standing in water.
In Florida this palm is now considered an evasive species.
They must be getting a bit out of control due to the perfect climate and soil conditions.
Their leaves grow in the same way as regular palms and they do belong to the feather leaf side of the family.
When you look at them you’d almost think they would come out like those of a maple or oak tree because they look like individuals.
But no, the whole leaf emerges as a stick and unrolls itself when it’s ready. Instead of long feathery leaves you get fishtails.
They are popular in landscaping because they are very pretty to look at with the wind blowing thru them.
Toddy Fishtail Palm
The fruit bunches on the giant fishtail can be massive in length.
When you look at them can’t help but wonder just how heavy they are. 60 lbs or more.
The individual strands within the bunch almost look like small green pearls all strung together.
The fruit is not good for eating and actually has a corrosive effect. The Latin name for their seeds describe how they have a stinging feel if you get the juice on your skin.
There are a couple different kinds fishtail palm trees that after flowering will die within two years.
If it’s the type that clumps no problem as there are already little clones growing to replace the original.
In the case of the giant fishtail--like the one pictured above--it will need to be replanted to produce another tree.
Fishtail Palm Flower
Original photo found here:
The toddy variety is used for the sap to make wine and sugar.
Two ways to collect the sap are tapping the tree with a spigot, or cutting off the flower stalk.
Cutting off the flowers is a quicker way and believe it or not, the sap starts fermenting right away.
It has no alcoholic content when collected but within a couple of hours it’s at 4% and very sweet.
Wait a couple of more hours 8% and it’s stronger, starting to get bitter and acidic, wait a bit longer-its vinegar.
Very fast process I’d say.
I don’t know of anything else that ferments quite that fast.
The presence of the fishtail palm tree in our community does add a distinctive look to the landscape.
We do enjoy watching the fishtails flutter in the breeze when we are out for our walk.
Have you ever had the wine or sugar??
I haven’t yet but I’m looking forward to giving it a try if the opportunity presents itself.
NOTE : About Buying Palms
If you are looking to buy palm trees of any kind then I would highly recommend purchasing through the Real Palm Tree Store.
They are a huge nursery based in Florida with connections to many quality growers.
Whether you are ordering from inside the United States, Canada or another part of the world-- ordering one tree for your landscape or many for a commercial project-- I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.
Their customer service is second to none; all products are high quality and backed by a money back 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Make sure to visit
real palm trees, ask questions and read the reviews before buying anywhere
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Other articles you may find useful:
Growing shows the plant hardiness zones, explains soil and sun requirements as well as other commonly used landscaping terminology.
Planting demonstrates the best practices to get your next palm off to a great start.
Fertilizing explains what the numbers mean, what kind to look for, how to calculate the correct amount and where to apply.
Uses demonstrates the many ways of how all the parts of various palm trees are utilized.
Identification shows what parts of the tree to look in determining what species.