Rhapis excelsa
Common Name: lady palm
Type: Palm or Cycad
Family: Arecaceae
Native Range: China to Vietnam
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 6.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 15.00 feet
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11. Best in dappled sun/part shade locations. Tolerates some poor light and close to full shade. Leaves may burn in full sun. Excellent for indoor cultivation where it is best planted in a well-drained potting medium. Indoor plants are best sited in bright indirect light near a window. Best with regular and consistent moisture, particularly in summer, but with reduced water applications in winter. Established plants have some drought tolerance. Plants thrive in 70 degree F. temperatures in summer but prefer somewhat cooler temperatures (above 55 degrees F) in winter. Spreads by rhizome offshoots.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Rhapis excelsa, commonly known as lady palm or bamboo palm, is an evergreen fan palm that forms a dense clump of slender, upright, bamboo-like canes clad with palmate, deep green foliage consisting of deeply divided, fan-shaped leaves each of which divide into 5-8 finger-like, narrow-lanceolate segments. Leaf stalks to 18” long. Sturdy canes are covered with coarse, dark brown fiber. Plants are dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants). Tiny, bowl-shaped, yellow flowers appear in small panicles in spring. Lady palm is native to China, but may no longer exist in the wild. Outdoors it will grow to as much as 15’ tall and as wide, but it is more likely to top out at 6’ tall when grown indoors as a container plant.

Genus name comes from the Greek word rhapis meaning a needle with reference to the needlelike leaf segments.

Specific epithet from Latin means tall in reference to plant height (perhaps not a good name since it is not the tallest plant in the genus).


Leaf spot can be troublesome. Watch for aphids, nematodes and scale. Susceptible to fireblight.

Garden Uses

Low light and humidity requirements make this an excellent container plant for homes, offices and shopping malls. Where winter hardy, plants form excellent screens and hedges. Foundations. Lots of varieties in green and variegated forms.