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Raphis excelsa and Raphis humilis

Raphis excelsa and Raphis humilis

Does anyone know what the differences are between Raphis excelsa and Raphis humilis? I've looked at some pictures of Raphis humilis and I think the leaves look almost like Trachycarpus fortunei since they are very divided. It's a very cool looking palm with the skinny trunk which looks just like that of Raphis excelsa.

The following thread was started by Matt in Tukwila on July 03, 2008 at 5:19 pm PST


Pictures found on the web of R. humilis

Picture 1

The above followup was added by Matt in Tukwila on July 04, 2008 at 1:28 pm PST.


Picture 2

Raphis humilis

The above followup was added by Matt in Tukwila on July 04, 2008 at 1:29 pm PST.


Picture 4

Raphis humilis

The above followup was added by Matt in Tukwila on July 04, 2008 at 1:31 pm PST.


Picture 5

Raphis humilis

The above followup was added by Matt in Tukwila on July 04, 2008 at 1:32 pm PST.


Raphis excelsa picture for comparison

The usual form Raphis excelsa for comparison

The above followup was added by Matt in Tukwila on July 04, 2008 at 1:35 pm PST.


main observable diffences

The main observable difference seems to be the leaves are much more divided on Raphis humilis making them look much more like Trachycarpus. fortunei leaves. Are there any other differences?

The above followup was added by Matt in Tukwila on July 04, 2008 at 1:36 pm PST.


Two Raphis

Raphis excelsa is a coarser foliaged plant that is a bit hardier and a lot faster growing than the finer foliaged R. humilis. R. humilis usually is not as tall growing as R. excelsa, which can reach 20 feet tall with age. I grow both of them here in the SF Bay Area, where they are possible to grow as outdoor palms in a sheltered, wind protected location. Both species grow much larger and faster where they don't have to deal with freezing winters, (they can take some occasional frost),and much prefer hot humid summers to cool breezy ones, so they are relatively slow growers here in northern California. They will both look like crap if subjected to cold winds. They are much more commonly seen as outdoor palms in southern California, where they make excellent narrow growing, multitrunked palms for a shady spot, and are especially useful in tight spots next to buildings.

I wouldn't think either palm is suitable for outdoor culture in the PNW, but they are good indoor palms and take relatively low light conditions. One key thing to remember as a container plant; never let this one go too dry, as they are easily killed. Also, if you buy one shipped in from Hawaii, they are often grown in pure rock, and the planting medium should probably be changed to something that still drains quickly but will also hold more water. They are just as unhappy in standing water at the roots as they are if allowed to go too dry.

The above followup was added by bahia on July 04, 2008 at 4:58 pm PST.


Raphis..and the PNW

I know a guy in Beaverton who had a microclimate that had Raphis excelsa in his front area courtyard. It was right next to the house and they looked very healthy. The were of course outside, but I think a microclimate for this species would be doable since I saw this guy that had them in his courtyard. His courtyard would stay pretty warm, it had lots of protective trees and concrete that would aid in warming up the area during summer/winter. I wish I had a picture of the palms from this dude's house. He has since moved.
John in Beaverton

The above followup was added by John in Beaverton on July 05, 2008 at 0:55 am PST.


another difference..

R.humilis is almost never found for sale.I havent seen one for sale in decades. I think bahia had a slip of the tongue as it's humilis that is the taller species. A very open,lacy, 12-14' R.humilis is growing in the SF botanical garden library where you get an idea of it's real beauty. A third Rhapis sp.grows outdoors as a hedge at the UC Berkeley botanical garden.It either tops out at 6-8' or they top it at that height.
I have R.excelsa growing on my front porch.It seems to grow faster as it gets larger-even though its been in the same pot and soil three years. It really responds to fertilizer with very dark green fronds.
But you know i think if you did grow a half dozen Trachycarpus together in the same pot in shade,that would look almost no different than a big Rhapis. Think outside the box.

The above followup was added by stan on July 05, 2008 at 9:13 am PST.


bonsai Raphis sp

I have one I bought as a desk plant for my work space and it is in a 5" tall bonsai ceramic container. I think it is Raphis humilis since the leaves even on this young palm are quite divided and not as stiff as Raphis excelsa that we have in large pots at the office. The label did not say what species of Raphis it is. Also the leaflets come to much more of a point unlike Raphis excelsa.

The above followup was added by Matt in Tukwila on July 05, 2008 at 11:10 am PST.


Thanks for the info

Too bad they grow so slow. I've measured growth on mine and it is no more than 1mm/day.

The above followup was added by Matt in Tukwila on July 05, 2008 at 3:58 pm PST.


best Rhapis best for the PNW is...

Rhapis multifida...grown in a Thai pot and brought in under cover during winter. They all need to be brought in, so you might as well grow the most elegant one.

For a look similar to Rhapis in the landscape, some of the big-leafed bamboos come pretty close. Sasa palmata and Indocalamus tesselatus (with grooming) are the imposters usually pressed into service for this purpose. Some of the newer Borindas might be good candidates as well.

The above followup was added by Steve in Brookings on July 05, 2008 at 9:41 pm PST.


Rhapis Zuikonishiki

I've got some of these beauties for sale, 4inches to 2 gallon...I've grown over 15 different varieties of Rhapis and have a multifada indoors that is 7 feet tall by 6 feet wide....the fingers on a frond have over 22 splits. It's grown 5 fold in 6 years. Rhapis have been grown for thousands of years by Japan's Samurai warriors as a status symbol.

The above followup was added by David-OBay on July 06, 2008 at 9:06 am PST.


maybe Berkeleys is multifada...

That might have been the id i got from Darold Petty on the bad old Palm Board a few years ago.
It's nicer than excelsa,not as elegant as humilis.

The above followup was added by stan on July 06, 2008 at 9:37 am PST.


Trachycarpus impersonating Rhapsis..

Just took this photo yesterday of..multiple Tarchys in one pot at a nursery that seems to specialize in Trachys of all sizes and numbers. SO,there you go,a Trachyexcelsa.

The above followup was added by stan on July 07, 2008 at 8:51 am PST.


Rhapis and trachycarpus

Basically, trachies are the cold-weather analogues of Rhapis. A parsimony analysis of chloroplast DNA shows that Trachycarpus, Rhapis and Guihaia are all closely related and probably constitute some kind of clade or supergenus in the family Palmae.

The above followup was added by Steve in Brookings on July 08, 2008 at 5:57 pm PST.


meant to add...

With Trachycarpus martianus, for example, you can readily see the intermediate phylogenetic link between Trachycarpus and Rhapis. It almost looks as if it's an intergeneric hybrid between the two (but it isn't).

The above followup was added by Steve in Brookings on July 08, 2008 at 5:59 pm PST.


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