Licuala grandis (lik-oo-AH-lah GRAHN-dis) is an incredibly elegant-looking, slow-growing palm hailing from the lowland rain forests of the Solomon Islands and the Vanuatu Islands near Australia’s coast.
This perennial member of the Arecaceae (Palmae) Palm or Cycad family of plants also goes by the botanical name, Pritchardia grandis.
The Licuala plants’ common names include:
- Ruffled Fan Leaf Palm
- Ruffled Lantan Palm
- Grosse Licuala Palm
- Vanuatu Fan Palm
- Ruffled Fan Palm
- Palas Payung
- Vanuatu Fan
- Palas Kipas
- Palas Palm
- Ray Palm
Licuala Grandis Palm Care
Size & Growth
Ruffled Fan Leaf Palm is a slow-growing plant that can attain a height of 15’ in the wild. However, when kept as a container plant indoors, these attractive palms usually top out at 6’ to 10’.
Ruffled Lantan palm has very large, beautiful leaves. Each round leaf is about 22” across. The shiny leaves are undivided and pleated with notched edges. Take care when handling these rigid leaves because the edges are very sharp and can cut you.
The long, firm fronds that support the leaves are also a bit dangerous as they have a row of curved thorns at the base where the leaf’s stem meets the slim wooden trunk of the tree.
Licuala Palm leaves are few. A tree may have only about a dozen leaves. Even so, the size and dramatic structure of the leaves make the tree seem quite full.
Flowering & Fragrance
Palas Palm produces pretty drooping clusters of fragrant white, cream-colored, or yellow blossoms early in the summer. The blooms are attractive to pollinators and last well into midsummer when they transition into hard, shiny green fruits.
As the marble-sized fruits mature, they turn bright red. Each fruit houses a single seed. The Licuala fruit is not edible for humans, but birds and fruit bats like it.
Light & Temperature
Grosse Licuala Palm should be kept in low to moderate light when it is small and young, just as it would be on the forest floor in the wild. This is why it makes such a good houseplant when it is small. However, this slow-growing palm tree will do very well in an indoor setting that provides consistent warmth and indirect, bright light.
When the tree matures, it can be set outdoors during warm weather or planted in the landscape in USDA hardiness zones 10b and above. You may place the tree in partial shade to full sun at this time. Just be careful to protect it from high winds and sudden temperature changes.
Fully mature trees can tolerate brief periods of cold weather as low as 32° degrees Fahrenheit. Ideal temperatures for this plant range from 70° to 88° degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering & Feeding
The Licuala Palm does well with infrequent, deep watering. Allow the top couple of inches of the soil to dry and then water thoroughly. Mist the plant two or three times a week to keep humidity levels comfortable.
Fertilize Palas Payung lightly throughout the growing season. You can either give it a diluted dose of liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season or give the plant a full dose of a slow-release fertilizer once early in the spring and a couple more times through the summer. An NPK rating of 15-5-10 is best.
Let the plant rest in the winter. Don’t fertilize during this time.
Soil & Transplanting
Vanuatu Fan Palm is tolerant of all sorts of soil at any pH level, as long as it is well-draining. A mixture of rich organic compost, humus, and sand is ideal. A sandy soil works well.
Even if it has not outgrown its pot, repot every couple of years to provide your Licuala palm with fresh soil and nutrients.
- Remove the plant from its pot
- Brush old soil off the roots
- Wash the container
- Refill it with fresh soil
- Return your Licuala grandis to its original home
If your Licuala has outgrown its pot, be sure to give it a bit bigger, heavier pot to prevent it from taking a tumble. The best time to repot is early in the springtime.
Grooming & Maintenance
Prune away dead or damaged fronds as needed. Wear heavy gardening gloves and long sleeves when performing this task to prevent injury. Goggles may also be in order.
More On Palm Care
- Growing Rhapis Excelsa – The Lady Palm
- Introducing the Metal Palm – Chamaedorea Metallica
- Fertilizing Outdoor Palms
How To Propagate Licuala Grandis
Propagate Licuala palms from seed. If you decide to grow this plant from seed, you’ll need to:
- Start in late winter or early in spring.
- Sow the seed into a 50-50 mix of moist perlite and peat
- Place the germination tray in an area that receives bright, indirect sunlight Maintain a steady temperature above 75° degrees Fahrenheit
- Keep the germination mixture moist and wait for 3-6 months!
Licuala Grandis Pests or Diseases
When kept as a houseplant, Licuala palms can be plagued by common houseplant pests when overwatered or otherwise kept in less than ideal conditions.
- Excessive watering and cool temperatures may lead to root rot.
- Too much direct sunlight may scorch and burn the plants’ leaves.
Is the Licuala Considered Toxic or Poisonous to People, Kids, Pets?
Licuala Palm is somewhat toxic to cats, dogs, and people if ingested. It is also somewhat hazardous to eat since the leaves are very sharp, and the stems are spiny. Ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal distress, along with physical injury.
Is the Licuala Considered Invasive?
This plant is not invasive in North America.
Suggested Licuala Grandis Uses
Depending on your climate, Ruffled Licuala Fan Palm is a good choice as a houseplant, container plant, or landscape plant. However, keep in mind that smaller palms with sharp leaves at low levels may be a bit dangerous, so place these plants in areas that do not get frequent foot traffic.
Because these palms are very attractive to birds, fruit bats, and other pollinators, they make an excellent centerpiece for a bird and wildlife garden in a tropical setting.