Rhapis cochinchinensis

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Rhapis (RAH-pis)
Nakai, Laos. Staminate Inflorescence without Peduncular Bracts. Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'laosensis' Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Rhapis (RAH-pis)
Rhapis laosensis, Rhapis macrantha
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names
Lady Palm, Laos Lady Palm

Habitat and Distribution

Laos; Vietnam. Alluvial river levée, sandstone soil
Nakai, Laos. Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'laosensis' Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
and degraded semi-evergreen forest.200 to 530 m.


Stems to 3 m tall, with sheaths, 11–30 mm in diam., without sheaths 5–11 mm. Leaf sheath with outer and inner fibers close, fine, producing a squared mesh, ligule sometimes remaining intact at maturity; petiole to 2.5 (4.5) mm wide, with a few brown papillae along the margin at the base and apex; blade with V-shaped or semi-circular to lunulate outline, with a conspicuous palman, segments 3–9 (12), folds 15–27, to 340 mm long, sides curved, apices distinctly cucculate, oblique, with irregular dentate secondary splitting, primary splits to within 10–87 mm of the blade base, margins scabrid, thick texture, adaxial surface glossier than abaxial and slightly darker, transverse veinlets conspicuous. Inflorescence, the male and female similar in general appearance, branching to 2 orders; prophyll, large boat-shaped, usually completely overlapping the first rachis bract, thick and woody in texture, pale brown, tomentose, rachis bracts 1 (–2), first bract, reddish brown, large, boat-shaped, thick in texture, either keeled or with up to 3 distinct ribs, inner surface shiny, outer surface tomentose, not sheathing the rachis, a second incomplete rachis bract present in some specimens, similar to the first bract but thinner in texture; rachis overall length to 90 (140) mm, to 5 mm in diam., rachillae short 15–45 mm, covered with minute rusty brown papillae. Flowers, male more densely packed on the rachillae than female, similar in size. Male flowers, obtriangular to 3.5 × 2.6 mm; calyx to 1.3 mm, lobes to 0.8 mm with regular margin; corolla, narrowing towards the base, lacking a receptacular-stalk; filaments, shorter row to 1.8 mm, longer to 2 mm, narrow, to 0.2–3.5 mm in diam.; pistillode minute. Female flowers, globose to 3.4 × 2.8 mm; calyx to 1.2 mm, lobes to 0.5 mm; corolla with a receptacular-stalk to 1.8 mm; staminodes present. Fruit with three carpels developing, borne on a short receptacularstalk to 0.5 mm. Mature fruit not seen. Hermaphrodite inflorescence with male and hermaphrodite flowers to 4.2 × 2.5 mm; calyx to 1.5 mm; corolla with a receptacular-stalk to 1.4 mm; hermaphrodite flower carpels to 1.2 mm. (L. Hastings. 2003)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

The large thick overlapping prophyll and first rachis bract, shiny adaxial leaf surface which usually has a pinkish tinge when dried and distinctly cucculate leaf segment tips are characteristic of this species. One inflorescence seen was hermaphrodite with larger male and hermaphrodite flowers to 4.2 × 2.5 mm. Specimen labels give the flower colour as greenish cream (female) and bright yellow (male). Photographs of the male inflorescence of TDE 34 show greenish creamy yellow flowers. Beccari (1931) illustrated the specimen Dr Thorell 3154 (P), so this specimen was chosen as the lectotype. (L. Hastings. 2003)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 9a. Slight damage and yellowing to a plant exposed to 21 degree weather, much hardier than most data suggests. (Krishna)

Comments and Curiosities

There are two merged species: Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'laosensis', and Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'macrantha'

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to Palmweb.org, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Hastings, L.2003. A Revision of Rhapis, the Lady Palms. Palms 47(2) 62-78.

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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