Ptychosperma macarthurii

Common Name: ptychosperma 
Type: Palm or Cycad
Family: Arecaceae
Native Range: New Guinea, Northern Australia
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 10.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 5.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Creamy-white to light green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Street Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Drought, Heavy Shade, Clay Soil


Easily grown in a wide range of soil types and lighting conditions as long as good drainage is provided. Prefers evenly moist, rich, loamy soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of heat, drought, heavy shade, clayey and sandy soils. Does not tolerate salt spray. Hardy in Zones 10-11.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ptychosperma macarthurii, commonly called macarthur palm, is a small, clustering to multi-stemmed palm native to moist rainforests of northern Australia and New Guinea but is common in cultivation throughout the tropics and subtropics. Mature plants can reach up to 30' tall in the wild but more often reach 10-15' tall in cultivation with a 5-10' spread. The upright trunks are slender and grey with horizontal stripes from old leaf scars. The stems are topped with an open crown of compound leaves (up to 5' long). The leaflets can have somewhat jagged tips. Clusters of small, creamy-white to light green flowers appear seasonally from the base of the crown. The flowers are followed by round, green fruits (around 0.5" in diameter) that ripen to bright red. Its fruits are attractive to birds which has led to its escape from cultivation and naturalization in many tropical regions. It is also considered invasive or potentially invasive in some areas.

Genus name comes from the Greek words ptyche, meaning "fold" and sperma, meaning "seed", in reference to a technical characteristic of the seed.

The specific epithet macarthurii honors Sir William Macarthur (1800-1882), an Australian botanist and viticulturist.


No major pest or disease problems. This palm is resistant to lethal yellowing disease.


Suitable for use as a specimen plant and as part of tropical plantings. Can be grown in a large pot but does not stay small and will eventually outgrow its container.