|Elegantly graceful, adorned with richly patterned leaves, and displaying
exquisite beauty, Rhapis excelsa have acquired the popular name of "Lady
Palms". Rare, slow-growing, 'and extremely versatile, they are undemanding
Enchanted by these exceptional qualities, the Japanese first began collecting Rhapis from China in the 17th century, as exclusive possessions for the Imperial palaces and the highest levels of nobility.
During the 1800s, the fame of these esteemed palms spread throughout the world. Rhapis excelsa became prized specimens in European conservatories, classic parlor palms of wealthy Americans, and landscape features of the finest botanical gardens. These early cultivated palms were a tall "standard" form, often growing more than 14' in height and attaining immense width. Consequently it became known as the "Large Lady Palm".
As interest in large Rhapis excelsa expanded around the globe, Japanese Samurai began cultivating dwarf green and variegated forms, especially suited for indoor use. Unusual leaf shapes and growth habits eventually appeared and each distinctive variety was named and classified. These highly selected cultivars developed into an array of "Miniature Lady Palms", some reaching only 5' or 6' of height after decades of growth.
Over 100 different varieties are presently known in the Orient. Though these "pedigreed palms" can only be propagated by division and remain limited in supply, a national fascination has emerged in Japan and rare variegated specimens of dwarf Rhapis excelsa are in high demand.
"Miniature Lady Palms" have now become important additions to American
interiors and landscapes. In the home, executive office, or garden, these
aristocratic plants become a focal point and reflect the quiet dignity
of their Far Eastern heritage.
Uniquely, Rhapis excelsa is the only ornamental palm species with named green and variegated varieties, each having a distinctive leaf shape and growth habit. A selection of these miniature cultivars provides an exciting choice of exotic shapes and textures which are almost unlimited.
Variegated Rhapis! These supreme "Lady Palms" are rarities of the palm world. Each named variety displays a stunning pattern of stripes and provides a dramatic highlight to any collection. A 6" R.excelsa 'ZUIKONISHKI' variegated is shown above.
Rhapis excelsa easily adapt to low light interior or shaded tropical and subtropical landscapes. They have a wide temperature range from 18 to 100 degrees F, and adjust to the cool, dry climate of California as well as the hot, steamy summers of Gulf Coast areas. Popular as patio plants in northern regions, they require only a brief period of protection during the coldest winter months. "Miniature Lady Palms" are one of the few prestigious ornamental species which offer such widespread indoor and outdoor use.
Available in many shapes and sizes, "Lady Palms" can be graceful accents and important collectables in any interior from traditional to contemporary. The R.excelsa 'ZUIKO-LUTINO' above is in an 8" decorative container.
MINIATURE (dwarf) defined: smaller than others of its kind; reduced scale; plants that are unusually small.
MINIATURE LADY PALMS (dwarf varieties of Rhapis excelsa): Smaller forms of the Large Lady Palm (standard Rhapis excelsa).
While the common "Large Lady Palm is usually found in 6' to 14' heights,
"Miniature Lady Palms" provide shorter, fully developed specimens 1' to
8' tall. These small, named varieties have a fast-clumping growth habit
and are available in 5" to 17" pot sizes. No other fine ornamental palm
offers such an extensive selection of sizes and flexibility of design.
Since miniature varieties of Rhapis excelsa are slow growing, palm size is an important consideration. If you like to watch small plants grow (slowly) bigger, choose a 5" pot size. If you prefer more stately specimens, select a larger palm.
The tall specimens shown in these pictures are examples of our oldest Rhapis, cultivated over 20 years in greenhouse conditions for maximum growth. If you are interested in our "Texas sized Dwarfs" 5' to 8' tall in 17' pot sizes, contact us for availability, prices, and shipping methods. They are too large for UPS, but can be sent to your address by motor or air freight.
Our Rhapis are grown and sold in plastic containers. Some of our palms
are shown potted in clay Bonsai Pots with saucers, in a rich chocolate
color. These and other superb containers such as the hand enameled "Nishiki"
pots from Japan can be purchased separately. The Rhapis excelsa 'DARUMA'
below is in a 9" Bonsai Pot.
Mini-dwarf Rhapis excelsa are exquisite examples of the 300 year old
Japanese tradition of cultivating the shortest, slowest-growing varieties
of Rhapis excelsa.
The mini-dwarf cultivars, 'GYOKUHO' and 'KODARUMA are excellent for
collectors of dwarf specimens, bonsai gardens, or areas requiring small,
very special ornamental palms.
Unlike the large "standard" Rhapis excelsa which easily reaches 14' of height or the dwarf varieties 'KOBAN, 'DARUMA', and 'TENZAN' which slowly grow 6' tall ... the mini-dwarf cultivars 'KODARUMA' and 'GYOKUHO' may only attain 4' of height after 30 or 40 years of age such as the ones shown below with Lynn McKamey at the Huntington Botanical Garden, San Marino, California.
In the plant kingdom, variegated palms are almost nonexistent. Rhapis
are a rare exception and offer an array of striped varieties for the most
Dwarf Rhapis excelsa are a delight. Treat yourself to one or start a collection. You will find that each Lady has an elegant and unique personality all her own.
"Secret of the Orient" by Lynn McKamey is a 52 page reference to all types of "Lady Palms" including standard Rhapis excelsa and other species. Chapters include the 300 year old history of Rhapis, complete culture and care, plus bonsai suggestions. Numerous color photographs, illustrations, and charts are included.
Portions of this book have been reprinted in trade publications, consumer magazines, and scientific journals. The 12 page culture chapter contains everything you need to know about growing, propagating, and maintaining your Rhapis. It can also be used as a guide to most indoor palms and many houseplants.
Copies are available for $12 each postpaid to U.S. addresses; $15 to
overseas addresses. Send check or money order in U.S. funds to RHAPIS GARDENS-WWW,
P.O.BOX 287, GREGORY, TX 78359 USA.