- Scientific name: Ravenala madagascariensis
- Family: Strelitziaceae
Giant tree-like herb up to 16m tall. Stems simple, solitary or branched at base, clothed by leaf bases. Leaves up to 4m long, arising at 45° from main stem, two-ranked and paddle-shaped with a furrowed midrib. Collections of flowers (inflorescences) up to 31cm long, consist of many creamy white flowers. Fruits brown capsules containing bright azure blue fruit. Pollinated by lemurs.
Traveller's palm growing at Eden
Monroe tells us about the uses of the traveller's palm.Play video
- The common name is thought to refer to how travellers could be refreshed in an emergency by drinking the water that has collected in the cup-like leaf bases. Unfortunately the water has an unpleasant taste!
- Although it’s called a palm, this plant is not a member of the palm family (Arecaceae); it actually belongs to the bird-of-paradise family, Strelitziaceae.
Where it grows
The traveller’s palm is native to Madagascar, the African island renowned for its many endemic plant and animal species (meaning they have evolved independently and can now only be found on the island).
The traveller's palm has thought to have co-evolved with the ruffed lemur, which is a pollinator of this plant.
- Capsule: dry fruit that opens by valves, slits or pores to release seeds (dehiscent) and is composed of two or more united carpels (the basic unit of the female sexual organ).
- Herb: plant with fleshy parts rather than a persistent woody stem above ground.