Johannesteijsmannia altifrons

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(yo-hahn-nes-tehs-mahn-EE-ah) altifrons (AL-tih-fronz)
11555867746 6ff42691fd b.jpg
Cairns Botanical Garden (Flecker), Queensland, Australia. Photo by Karl Gercens.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Johannesteijsmannia
Species: altifrons (AL-tih-fronz)
Teysmannia altifrons
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Entire with cerated edges towards tip.
Height: 10–20 ft.
Trunk diameter: Acaulescent
Sun exposure: Heavily filtered light.
Watering: Tropical in requirements.
Soil type: Rich
Survivability index
Common names
Diamond Joey Palm, Joey Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Global — Peninsular Malaysia, western Borneo and Sumatra (type). Thailand —
Singapore. Photo by Pete.
PENINSULAR: Songkhla, Yala, Narathiwat. Usually gregarious on hill slopes and ridge tops in hill dipterocarp forest, to 800 m altitude, in the extreme south of Peninsular Thailand.


Joey Palm Trees can grow up to 10 – 20 ft tall and 10 - 15 ft wide. A medium sized, trunkless palm with large, simple, undivided leaves that can be up to 6m in length, coming directly from an underground root-stock. These large, leathery, diamond-shaped leaves are pleated along their length, and have serrated edges.

Solitary acaulescent palm. Stem subterranean, procumbent to 15 cm diam. Leaves 20–30 in crown, large, erect; petiole up to 2.5 m long, armed with minute, up to 1 mm long spines; blade up to 3.5 m long and 1.8 m wide, with up to 20 or more folds on each side, glabrous below, with brown scales proximally on the costa. Inflorescence erect at first, eventually pendent, branched to the third order; peduncle 30–50 cm long; rachillae 20–100, 5–20 cm long, greenish with dense white tomentum. Flowers cream coloured and pointed in bud, 4–5 mm long. Fruit 4–5 cm diam., with 60–80, 0.6–0.8 cm long corky warts. (Palms of Thailand) Editing by edric.


Warm, sheltered well drained position. Surprisingly cold tolerant given their tropical origins. Very sensitive to root disturbance; be extremely careful when potting up, or planting out. They are easily killed by careless handling. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

Uses: Ornamental; also used for temporary thatch.

"This is one of the most spectacular shade tropical palms I know of. IT can grow in the very best of climates in So Cal, but really is better for Hawaii and warmer areas. There is a nice one in Ventura California, but that's an unusual circumstance. It has massive, single leaves with perfectly linear nearly parallel pleats along it's extent. Loves lots of water, and hates low humidity and cold. Needs a LOT of light indoors, and dislikes air-conditioning and heating.

As an addendum, the palm in Ventura that is 'not stunted' was shipped over as an adult from Hawaii... it is doing OK, b ut the reason it looks so good to start with is its great start in a tropical climate. It is, however, not growing that well since." (Geoff Stein)

Surely one of the most stunning and spectacular palms in the world, J. altifrons has large, simple, undivided leaves that can reach a length of more than 6 m/20 ft, rising directly from an underground rootstock. These huge, very leathery, roughly diamond-shaped leaves are pleated along their length, giving the most bizarre appearance. The Joey grows in montane rainforest in S. Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo, at up to 1200 m (400 ft). It is much tougher and more cool-tolerant than one might expect, and will grow happily in the subtropics and of course any tropical climate, in a shady, wind protected situation. It has been proven to do well, for instance, in coastal S. California, S. Spain or S. Florida, and can even be kept as a striking indoor plant. ( Editing by edric.

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

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

Special thanks to, 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).

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

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