Caryota mitis
Common Name: Burmese fishtail palm 
Type: Palm or Cycad
Family: Arecaceae
Native Range: Southeast China to Malaysia to Malesia
Zone: 9 to 10
Height: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Pale purple to mauve
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest


Best grown in evenly moist, rich, well-draining soils in part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of sun conditions, including full sun to dappled shade. Specimens on lawns or other exposed sites can be damaged by storms. Best in a more sheltered location. Hardy in Zones 9b(25°F)-12.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Caryota mitis, commonly called clustered fishtail palm, is a small, clumping palm native to moist, fertile rainforests of Southeast Asia but cultivated in tropical regions around the world. Mature clumps will reach 15-25' tall and around 8-12' wide. The smooth, grey-brown, slender trunks can reach 4-6" in diameter and have distinctive rings. The large, bipinnately compound leaves are upright to spreading with arching tips and can reach 4-9' long. The wedge-shaped pinnules (leaflets) have jagged or irregularly toothed ends and can reach 4-7" long. The petioles (leaf stalks) and leaf sheathes are covered in shaggy fibers. The axilliary inflorescences will reach 1.5-2' long and are made up of numerous pendant branches. The pale purple to mauve flowers will reach 0.25" wide and are not considered horticulturally significant. Flowering begins at the top of mature stems, with subsequent inflorescences emerging further down. Eventually the last inflorescence is produced and the stem dies. However since this is a clumping palm, the dead stem will be replaced by new growth from the base. The round, 0.5" long fruits contain a single seed and ripen from various shades of yellowish green to red and nearly black. The fruits contain calcium oxalate crystals which can cause severe skin irritation if eaten or handled without gloves.

Genus name comes from the Greek word karyon meaning "a nut".

The specific epithet mitis means "unarmed", in reference to the leaves of this species which lack spines.

The common name fishtail palm refers to the shape of the leaflets.


Susceptible to lethal yellowing disease. Spider mites and scale can be problematic, particularly for plants grown indoors. Do not plant where pets, children or other unsuspecting people would come into contact with the fruit.


Specimen or accent palm for tropical gardens. Suitable for use as a houseplant or large foliage plant for interiorscaping. The fibers from the petioles and leaf sheaths are used as fire starter and to make thatch, rope, brushes, and coarse thread.