Rhopalostylis sapida


Rhopalostylis sapida

Shaving Brush Palm, Nikau Palm

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New Zealand. It is the southernmost naturally occurring palm.

Growth Habit:

A single-trunked palm with pinnate fronds. It is slow-growing and may take over a decade to form a trunk. It eventually reaches around 30 ft tall. Young specimens make good container palms.

Growing Requirements:

Grows best in filtered light and moist soils. This palm can take winter temperatures down to about 25 degrees and does not need hot summers to grow well. Plant in a sheltered area, as wind will damage the fronds.


R. sapida has very stiff upright leaves and a swollen crownshaft which together give the palm its distinctive “shaving brush” or “feather duster” appearance. The young trunk is light green with rings. Older specimens have spikes of small pale flowers followed by red berries.

Where at Lotusland:

There is a grove of six R. sapida bordering the Main Lawn near the Bromeliad Garden. There is one other species ofRhopalostylis at Lotusland: R. baueri, native to Norfolk Island. These are found in the Fern Garden and bordering the drive by the entrance to the Cycad Garden. There is also one specimen of the variety R. baueri var. cheesemannii, native to the Kermadec Islands north of New Zealand.

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