Lipstick Palm Tree


This is one of the first new palm trees I discovered in my travels in south east Asia. The lipstick palm (Cyrtostachys renda) is a common garden plant here. I photographed stands of them in my sister-in-law’s apartment complex. The bright red crown shaft (a technical term for leaf base in some palm tree species) is distinctive and hence the name after red lipstick. They are native to Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra, but due to their striking appearance, they are an ornamental. I never noticed them in Latin America, but they may have been there.


They are beautiful as a mature tree (above) or as a young plant (below). They are also known as Red Sealing Wax Palm, because the red color resembles the sealing wax used for letters by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 16th century. Also note that “renda” is a Malay indigenous word for palm. It is my favorite Asian palm so far!



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