Pinanga disticha

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Pinanga (pih-NAHN-gah)
disticha (dihs-TIK-ah)
Pinanga disticha 'Setiu butterfly' Thailand. Photo by Philippe Alvarez
Scientific Classification
Genus: Pinanga (pih-NAHN-gah)
disticha (dihs-TIK-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
legong Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Malaya, Sumatera, Thailand.
Hilo, Hawaii.


Very thin stemmed small palm which forms a thick clump. Leaves are mottled, and undivided or divided once. Mature fruits are red. Editing by edric.

"Pinanga disticha is a charming little palm native to peninsular Thailand and Malaysia and also found in Singapore and Sumatra. Henderson describes it as a loose clumper but our specimen grows as a tight clumper. In nature, this palm grows from sea level up to an elevation of 4,000 feet. The stems measure .25 inches in diameter and are reported to grow four feet tall. The leaves are mottled and have widely divided segments or are bifid. The stems are dark brown." (Charlie Beck)


Grows best in filtered light in a moist position. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10b

Comments and Curiosities

A dwarf species from montane forests in Malaysia and S. Thailand that certainly deserves to be among the worlds most desirable and sought after palms. Its deeply bifid and rarely pinnate leaves are beautifully mottled light and dark green, often with a yellowish or white background. The undersides of the leaves are of a strongly contrasting grayish colour. The reddish-brown, pencil-thin canes are densely clustering and spead along the ground to form clumps of up to 2 m (7 ft) in diameter. P. disticha will do well in a protected spot in the subtropical or tropical garden. (

This is a dwarf palm with many forms in Malaysia and visually they can be very confusing. They have a pencil thin stem and so far I have only seen specimens growing to a height of about 4 ft though the literature says it can get to 7 ft. They cluster freely but the clump does not have a messy look. In maturity, the leaves may lose its bifid form and may be slightly pinnate. This spotted leaf species retains the colors throughout their life. I still collect those which have a high color contrast. Base color range from a dark green to a mid yellowish green with highly contrasting yellow spots. In the jungle, they are often found in the moist areas and beside streams in deep shade of down to 30-40% light infiltration from the canopy. The seeds are red when ripe. However, it is easier to remove a sucker than to germinate the seed! Once established in cultivation, they are undemanding and grow at a steady pace. I have encountered sites whereby, it is almost impossible not to step on the seedlings! (Tog Tan)

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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