Ravenala madagascariensis

mrbungalow(Z8, SW-Norway)July 3, 2005

I planted 100 seeds of this species this winter and only got one to germinate. The plant is growing fast and nicely today. I am wondering if anyone knows if this plant suckers freely, or do I need to propogate it using seeds?


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unautre(8B San Antonio TX)



Sounds like it depends on which one you have.

I have two seedlings coming up well. But into the greenhouse next winter.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 3:55PM
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It will be several years before it suckers. If you want more plants, you`d better get more seeds.

I have great germination rates using the "Baggie method". Put the seeds, together with a handful of only slightly moist peat moss, in a sealed plastic bag. Don`t add too much water to the peat moss. The seeds rot very easily. Put the bag in a warm, shaded location and they will germinate pretty quickly if they are fresh.

You might also want to try its dwarf cousin, Ravenala guyanensis (Red Travellers Palm). It only gets about 7 feet tall. I`ve seen R. madagascariensis get 50 feet tall.

Here`s a site that sells the seeds. Just scroll down to where you see "Red Travelers Palm.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ravanala guyanensis seeds

    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 5:27PM
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Gary's right. They will eventually sucker, but not before it is mature (10-20 ft. tall), and they do get HUGE. By the time it's big enough to sucker, it should also be big enough to bloom and give seeds.

Hey Gary- I googled Ravenala guyanensis because I'd never heard of another species of Ravenala, but the pictures I got look like our old friend Phenakospermum. Did they move it to Ravenala now? If so, we've talked about the size before: up to 20 ft., not exactly what I'd call "dwarf". Of course I'm having a hard time imagining anyone getting either one up to mature size in Norway, unless they have a nice big glasshouse like yours!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 8:14PM
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Hey Lisa,

I`m not totally sure about this one, but one of the websites that offers Ravenala guyanensis seeds (The Banana Tree seeds) says it gets only 7 feet tall. That`s really short for the Strelitzia family. Only S. reginea would be in that range. And if they were really offering Phenakospermum guyanensis seeds, there`s no way they would say the plant would only get 7 feet tall. On the other hand, it is named ... guyanensis so maybe they got the height estimate wrong and they are offering P. guyanensis seeds!

I can tell you that the seeds they send you look just like P. guyanensis seeds (red, not orange tufts) , but I just got some Strelitzia alba and S. caudata seeds and they look identical to S. reginea and S. nicolai seeds.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 10:12PM
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Just heard from The Banana Tree. They said that their Ravenala guyanensis and Phenakospermum guyanensis are one in the same.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2005 at 9:38PM
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I suspected as much, Gary. According to Berry & Kress's book, both Ravenala and Phenakospermum are monotypic genera, unless they've discovered something new in the last decade or so. So much for the 7 ft. theory!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 12:37AM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

I can't get the darn seeds to germinate at all, and I'm usually good with that kind of thing. I've tried three different batches... Can anyone tell me where to get plants of the ravenala? also is it like most tropicals, the pot size will limit the size of the plant?
Because I really, really want one!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 8:15AM
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unautre(8B San Antonio TX)

I'm not very good at germination, so I bought two Traveller's palm seedlings on ebay. cheap, and both are growin well, about 1 ft tall now.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 8:56AM
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Aloha Tropicals will send you a Travellers Palm plant They are $20. plus shipping.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 9:34PM
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redbeard92(z7a NJ)

Got mine from Aloha, its about 5' tall (tip if the tallest leaf) and no trunk. Bought the plant real small Spring of 2003.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 9:06PM
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This is the largest sucker on a 10 to 12 year old Travellers Palm started from a 6' tall sucker off another plant. Never tried them from seed. I need to get in there and clean off the new keiki soon before they get this big. When I cut them off if I can get at or below the main attachment to the trunk I can let the wound heal and then root them to start new plants.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 3:22AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

had one of these in my backyard when I bought the house
so have no idea how old it was . I did not have the roo to allow it to develop trunks so constantly cut them out. Would still get leaves 20 feet long which would almost immediately get shredded by the wind.
The most amazing part of the plant was the flowers as in
ilima's pic. They would be 5 feet accross and have some sort of jelly like liquid that would run down the petioles
Tasted a lot like apple jelly to me lol The amazing part was the number of bees attracted!! Thousands!! Then as it turned sour it attracted flies. Had to use a chain saw to remove them as they would persist for years on the plant.
Another interesting thing was the leaves stored water.
at least a pint in each axil. When pruning I would often get drenched.lol.
Since I have such a small lot and it sprouted under the shadehouse and began to lift it I had it removed and the resulting cavity was about 4 feet deep.Took almost a year to get it to stop sprouting.lol
Wish I had the room to keep it Fantastic plant even with all it's bad habits.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 6:26AM
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unautre(8B San Antonio TX)

"Another interesting thing was the leaves stored water."

Which is where "Traveller's Palm" came from. Travellers would drink the water in the leaves.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 9:41AM
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I`ve seen that water. One would have to be VERY thirsty to consider drinking it!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 7:38PM
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Anybody had an luck growing traveler's palm in the ground in zone 9? I just bought a fairly large specimen, although it does not yet have a trunk, just large sheaves of leaves (there appear to be 2 plants in the pot I bought) that are probably around 6-7' long. I have several places in the yard that are fairly well protected, and have had pretty good luck growing flamboyan (propogated from seeds) in the yard. But we haven't had a hard freeze in nearly 20 years, so am wondering if I will be heartbroken if I plant the plant in the ground and it gets cold which down here means a few hours in the 25 F range once in a blue moon; usually just a quick dip below 32 F, maybe into high 20's for an hour or two.

I absolutely love this plant. Although a native of Madagascar, it is common in coastal Mexico, and I always think of Mexico when I see them.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 10:58AM
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Hello everybody,

I live in north of Italy, precisely in the flat lands of Verona a city laying 20 miles est of the huge lake Garda.

I have one speciment of R.Madagascariensis about 1 foot tall, right now it's in my livingroom in front of a huge glass wall among with lots of other plants.

I was wondering, to plant it in a sheltered area in my garden, consindering the fact that here winter temperatures increased consistently in the past years, turning this area from zone 8 to zone 9 most of the times.
Last winter we had minimum temperature of about 20F.

Given some root protection or maybe even covering the whole plant... anybody can tell me about their experience? I mean, if bananas adapt and grow here... why not Ravenala?


    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 3:51AM
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I wouldn't try it. Just grow it in a pot.

You might its more cold tolerant cousin, Strelitzia nicolai. They look quite similar, especially when they are young, but its still going to need lots of protection during your winter.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 7:10PM
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Ravenala needs bottom heat in order to germinate successfully. Had tried germinating some indoors several years ago (during winter). They did NOTHING. Threw the soil out in the spring in the back and noticed them sprouting in the spring once the soil got hot. I've also ordered successful specimens on ebay.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 10:10PM
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I recently planted a 6ft shoot, sucker from this plant in my yard. can anyone tell me what will happen in the next couple of months? Leaves wilt? turn brown? What should I expect?

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 6:31PM
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I just purchased two of these in a local Wal Mart, which has dozens of them for sale for under $10, if anyone is interested. It is supposed to be a one time offer.

The store I found them in is in Mechanicsburg, PA., along the Carlisle Pike. I suppose WM stocked up for Easter. They do not appear to have trunks yet, but are 4 or 5 ft tall and appear to be in good condition (I know little about palm trees.)

I read somewhere parts of this plant are poisonous. My cats already seem to be chewing on a few leaves. Does anyone have further details regarding toxicity?

Also, has anyone been successful in maintaining one of these plants at a workable indoor size, and how did you accomplish that? I read keeping them in a smaller pot would help.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 4:40AM
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Eibren, are sure these you are we are talking about the same plant here? I don't think I have ever seen Ravenala being sold in the North. Ravenala is not at all a palm--it is in the genus Strelitzia and related to bananas. S. nicoli can resemble Ravenala, but in my opinion, Ravenala is much harder to keep happy and alive in the North. S. nicolae is easy by comparison and also get mighty big and is a more robust grower. If the plant you see being sold in that store looks at all like a palm, it is not Ravenala.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 12:12PM
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