Licuala triphylla

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Licuala (lik-oo-AH-lah)
triphylla (trih-FILL-ah)
Licuala triphylla inflorescence2.jpg
Photo by Paul Craft.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Licuala (lik-oo-AH-lah)
triphylla (trih-FILL-ah)
Licuala filiformis (1997), Licuala stenophylla (1997).
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Palmate, segmented & entire leaf forms.
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Borneo, Malaya, Sumatera, and Thailand.
Palmetum, Townsville, QLD, Australia. Photo by Russell Cumming.


A small Licuala native to the understory of rainforests on the Malay Peninsula and Borneo. The very distinctive leaves sport a large central, and two smaller lateral segments, some do hold 3 when young, some 5, but at maturity they will usually hold 3 leaflets, hence living up to their name Tri(3) phylla (leaf). ohter variations are said to exist, including a entire leaf form. ( Editing by edric.


Licuala triphylla is a great small palm for patio or potted use. It can also be used as a indoor potted palm if the humidity levels can be kept up. They are also a great palm to grow in small colonies under other large palms or trees. Environment: The L. triphylla enjoys a shady moist, and well drained area where it can avoid any direct sunlight during the day. As a seedling is should be kept in a humid shady area where it will get watered regularly. Not a cold hardy palm, the triphylla should be kept out of temperatures under 40, and should be protected if grow outside during sub 40 temperatures. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10b (MB Palms)

Comments and Curiosities

Licuala triphylla “Three Leaf Palm” Natural Habitat: Naturally found throughout low land rainforest in Thailand, peninsular Malaysia and western Borneo. Description: A small solitary understory palm that can reach heights around 4-5 foot tall. Even as a mature palm, the L. triphylla remain short, in part to its subterranean stem that does not develop into a true above ground trunk. Once mature, all of the L. triphylla’s leaves emerge in set s of three, hence the common name. The three leaflets consist of one large fishtail shaped center leaflet with two smaller leaflets on each side of the center. The leaflets are dark green and can have a mottled pattern to them. There have been several palms brought into the country under the name Licuala triphylla. A easy way to tell if you have the correct L. triphylla is to count the leaflets. If there are any more than 3 leaflets it is not a true L. triphylla. (MB Palms)

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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