Rhapis multifida

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Rhapis (RAH-pis)
multifida (mohl-tih-FEE-dah)
Photo by David Strand.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Rhapis (RAH-pis)
multifida (mohl-tih-FEE-dah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

China South-Central, China Southeast. South China, West Guangxi, South East
Central Florida. Photo by seatyger
Guangdong. Alt. 1000–1500 m, shrub in mixed forest on rocky slopes.


Stems recorded to 2.5 m tall, diam. not recorded. Leaf sheath fibers close together with coarse outer fibers partially obscuring finer inner ones, producing a diagonal-lined mesh, ligule often remaining intact at maturity; petiole to 4 mm wide, margin smooth; blade large, with conspicuous palman, segments 14, folds 30, the longest segments to 450 mm, narrow (1 or 2 folds), tapering, apices pointed with secondary splitting, primary splits to within 23–66 mm of the blade base, thick in texture. Inflorescence, male not seen, female branching to 2 orders; prophyll similar in appearance to rachis bracts; rachis bracts 3 or 4, large, tubular, overlapping the base of the next rachis bract, relatively thick in texture, dark brown, lacking tomentum, sometimes also a distal incomplete rachis bract present; rachis greatly exceeding the bracts, overall length to 560 mm, broad 8–10 mm in diam., rachillae densely packed on the rachis, those of the second order held at right angles to those of the first order, relatively short and narrow, pale brown with pale rusty brown tomentum. Male flowers unavailable. Female flowers 3–5 mm apart, to 4.5 × 3.0 mm; calyx to 2 mm, tomentose, lobes to 0.8 mm with pale edged irregular margin; corolla darkly pigmented, with a long receptacular-stalk to 2.5 mm; staminodes present. Fruit to 8 mm in diam., borne on a receptacular-stalk to 5 mm long; epicarp shiny translucent papillose, apical region with conspicuous lenticels. (L. Hastings. 2003)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

The specimens seen indicate that this is probably the largest and most robust species of Rhapis. Complete stem width, blade shape and colour of abaxial surface were not available from the specimens or recorded on the notes on the sheets. All the specimens seen with inflorescence were female; one was in flower and the others were in fruit. The fruit is yellow according to Feng 13462. The distinctive large number of segments which do not split close to the blade base produce a conspicuous palman. A notable characteristic of this species is the relatively long receptacular-stalk of the fruit. (L. Hastings. 2003)/Palmweb.


Growth rate: moderate
Sunlight: filtered
Water: medium
Cold Tolerance: 28º F.
It prefers a sheltered, wind free, shady position in constantly moist, well drained soil. Frost tolerant. Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b

PFC for PP.png

Comments and Curiosities

humilis or multifida

7-20 leaflets; if 14-23 leaflets > multifida

(1) blades not spilt to the base

(2) pointed apices of leaflets

(3) ligules persistent; if only sometimes persistent > multifida

(4) stem to 2.5 cm diameter, if to 3 cm only humilis


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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