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Origin and Habitat: It is native to China. (Guangxi, eastern Yunnan) and probably Vietnam (Northern)
Habitat: Lowland an montane forest on rocky slopes, to 1500m elevation Uses. Planted as an ornamental.
- Rhapis multifida Burret
ENGLISH: Jade Empress palm, Finger palm, Guangxi fan palm, Jade Palm, Lady Finger Palm, Finger Lady Palm
CHINESE (中文): Tzung chu
FRENCH (Français): Palmier éventail à feuilles divisées, Rhapis à feuilles divisées
Description: Rhapis multifida is probably the most elegant of all the commonly grown Rhapis palms with very delicate, thin, pointed leaflets and is somewhat of a miniaturized version of Rhapis humilis. It is a suckering palam that eventually becomes very dense, forming 3 m wideclumps, it has also a more 'naked' stem than the the other forms of Rhapis. It is shorter than Rhapis humilis and the canes are thinner. It is about the same height as Rhapis excelsa but has more leaflets and a much more attractive trunk.
Stems: Pencil-thin, clustered, up to 2,5 m tall in nature, but normally only about 120-150 cm tall and less than 2,5 cm diameter, with few brown, woven fibre, but often nearly fibre-free and with lot of visible grey-green stem showing through.
Leaves: Blades dark green not split at the base, Leaflets 14-23 linear, long, slender, delicate with curved sides and more or less pointed apices. Of all the different cultivars, the most sought after is the plant with the thinnest leaflets (also the most susceptible to wind).
Inflorescences: borne among the leaves, branched to 3 orders; first inflorescence bract tubular, splitting apically, with the inflorescence emerging apically from the bract; flowering branches hairy;
Fruits: Globose, upto 0,8 cm diameter, yellow, borne on short stalks.
Cultivation and Propagation: Rhapis multifida is an excellent garden plant adapt to different tropical climates. It is also one of the most elegant indoor palms. Not many palms excel as indoor palms as Rhapis species. These palms seem to get greener and greener the more darkness they live in. This rare palm is quite expensive but well worth the money.
Growth Rate: Slow to Moderate.
Soil requirements: It is adaptable to soil types although neutral to slightly acid soils with good drainage and organic matter is recommended for best results. Avoid soils that are constantly soggy.
Watering: This plant does not tolerate drought and seems to need its roots wet all the time or it does not look good. It benefits from regular watering, especially during the dry seasons and should be watered before the soil completely dries, but don't let sit in water. Indoor, potted Rhapis should not be over-watered. They may contract the fungus Phytophthora, if over-watered. The better the quality of water applied the better your plants will grow in the long run, particularly plants grown in containers. Plants held indoors benefit by being taken outside when it is raining or being placed under a sprinkler for a period of time.
Light: This species cannot tolerate full sun, particularly in arid climates. Outside they grow best in half-shade to shade but tolerating some direct sun as long as soils are good and adequate water is available. Young specimens need protection from direct sunlight and grow best in shady to partly shady locations so for best results a partially shaded spot under trees or a pergola is ideal. With some sun the leaf crowns become larger and the stems attain greater diameters. If home-grown, they look their best in bright diffuse light.
Fertilization: Need a perfect low-release fertilizer (e.g., 18-18-18) diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements twice a year during growing season. It is subject to magnesium and potassium deficiency
Hardiness: Rhapis multifida grow well in tropical and subtropical climates, however it tolerates temperatures as low as -5° C (USDA Zones 9a to 11) and it is quite cold hardy, particularly when grown under shelter. For safe cultivation normal temperatures should not go below 5°. (USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11) Where not hardy, grow as an indoor palm in containers.
Wind tolerance: This particular palm can be severely damaged by windy sites, especially the thinnest leafed and more expensive cultivars. Keep out of drying and cold winds, needs high atmospheric humidity.
Salt aerosol tolerance: It must be protected from salt.
Maintenance: Remove dried fronds. Trim off or remove some small basal shoots if there are one too many, especially if container-grown to reduce congestion and improve aeration. You can then use these suckers to propagate as new plants.
Garden uses: Looking elegant and stately in its clumping habit, it will be excellent for landscaping. The most suitable for a small garden. As an indoor plant Rhapis multifida has no palm rival. (Not even Howea forsteriana. ) Its ability to handle low light intensities, low humidity, varying temperatures plus its suitability to pot culture, small to moderate size and slow growth rate make this palm ideal for indoor culture and can be kept indoors for its entire life.
Other uses: The stems are used as chopsticks and waking stikcks.
Disease & Pests: Protect against spider mites, scale insects and mealybug. Brown or black fungal spot is usually caused by poor cultural practices and too crowd plants much so as to allow unimpeded air flow to reduce conditions ideal for the fungus. They may require regular fertilization to prevent yellowing caused by potassium deficiencies; Brown leaf tips are often caused by an excessive accumulation of fertiliser salts in the potting mix. Protect from frost.
Propagation: By seeds, though it is more readily propagates via underground rhizome offshoots.
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