Friday, May 1, 2015



Media contact: Brooke LeMaire
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
305-667-1651, ext. 3392


Corypha utan palm at Fairchild Garden (Photo by Ken Setzer)




Coral Gables, FL, April 30, 2015 – A rare palm specimen is currently in bloom at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for the first and last time: Corphya utan (also known as the Gebang palm). Located in Plot 87 in the Lowlands, this palm flowers only once in its lifetime.


“It puts all its eggs in one basket,” says Sara Edelman, Fairchild’s Palm and Cycad Manager. “It produces hundreds of thousands of flowers and tens of thousands of fruit at once and then dies.”


Corypha utan produces flowers based on environmental cues. Amazingly, individuals in the same genus bloomed the same time at Fairchild as in Pinecrest Gardens, Homestead, and Havana, Cuba. The flowers of each palm will last only a few months before the plant dies after reproduction.


The meristem of a palm is where the growth is initiated. Almost all palms produce flowers out of axillary meristems; however, this species produces theirs out of the apical meristem, which is where hearts of palm come from. Corypha utan isn’t the only interesting palm in its genus; its congener, Corypha umbraculifera (also called the talipot palm), produces the largest branched inflorescence of any plant.


Typically, Corypha utan specimens last 30-80 years. The specimen at Fairchild is approximately 50 years old and originated from Sri Lanka. The species is also found in Southeast Asia and Australia. People use its sap for palm wine, its leaves for thatched roofs, and its fruit for meals. 



Detail shot of Corypha utan flowers (Photo by Arielle Simon)


Fairchild staff will collect the seeds from this specimen in hopes of planting more of this palm species in the Garden and for distribution to the community.


Be sure to visit the rare Corypha utan at Fairchild this month while it is still flowering.


About Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Established in 1938 and comprising 83 acres in Miami, Fla., Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants. The world-renowned plant collections feature palms, cycads, orchids, tropical fruit trees and more. Fairchild has the largest education program of any metropolitan area, reaching more than 200,000 schoolchildren each year with environmental programs like The Fairchild Challenge. It aims to inspire a greater knowledge and love for plants and gardening so that all can enjoy the beauty and bounty of the tropical world. Special events include Chocolate, Mango, and Orchid Festivals in addition to an annual art exhibition, concerts, plant sales and more. Fairchild is located at 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL 33156. For more info, call 305-667-1651 or visit www.fairchildgarden.org