Exotic tropical Lipstick Palm (Cyrtostachys renda)

Cyrtostachys renda (Red Sealing Wax Palm, Lipstick Palm, Rajah Palm)

Cyrtostachys renda/lakka (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm, Rajah Palm), in the neighbourhoodConsidered one of the most colourful and exotic palm tree in the world, Cyrtostachys renda is such a marvelous sight to behold!

Standing tall and majestic in its erect and beautifully clustered trunks with vibrant red crownshafts and fabulous green feathery fronds, the Red Sealing Wax Palm will definitely add glamour and charm to one’s garden or landscape.

Seeing this spectacular beauty always rekindle sweet memories of yesteryears for John and I.

We did enjoy its striking presence for quite many years in our small garden almost a decade ago, but had to give it up when we subsequently paved most of our front yard. No doubt about it being a traffic stopper then, and being ground-grown, it scaled to as high as 4.5 m and 1 m wide without much fuss.

Well, some things, especially plants, aren’t ours to claim forever, right? We’re blessed though, that we can continue to marvel and enjoy the beauty of Lipstick Palm everyday, without needing to lift a finger, so to speak, as they are grown widely and popularly almost everywhere in our country. Native to Malaysia too, these stately palms simply love our tropical clime of rain, sunshine and humidity.

Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :

  • Botanical Name: Cyrtostachys renda (syn: Cyrtostachys lakka). The name, Cyrtostachys is derived from the greek ‘kyrtos’, meaning curved and ‘stachys’, meaning ear of grain to describe the curved inflorescence.
  • Common Name: Red Sealing Wax Palm, Lipstick Palm, Rajah Palm
  • Family name: Arecaceae
  • Cyrtostachys renda/lakka (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm, Rajah Palm), in the neighbourhoodPlant type: A tropical ornamental palm tree
  • Origin: Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra), Australia and East Indies
  • Features: Cyrtostachys renda, a species of the genus Cyrtostachys, is an evergreen clustering or clumping palm like Ptychosperma macarthurii.
    It can scale as high as 9.1 m (30 ft) tall in its native range, but generally grows to only half that height in cultivation. A medium-sized palm that is slow to moderate-growing.

    What makes the Lipstick Palm exceptional and outstanding from other palm trees is its bright and vivid red crownshafts and leafstalks.
    Cyrtostachys renda/lakka (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm, Rajah Palm) at the road dividerIts common names, Lipstick Palm and Red Sealing Wax Palm aptly denote these distinctive and resembling red-coloured features.
    A matured Lipstick Palm tree will produce suckers freely in abundance. Hence, it’ll form an impressive cluster of slender and upright trunks that appear naturally and wonderfully multi-leveled, as seen in the right photo.
    Trunks, beautifully ringed by leaf scars, start off green in colour, mature to orangy or brownish-green and eventually end up gray.

    Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm): close-up of pinnate frondsAtop the elegant trunks, at the leaf bases, are the striking red crownshafts in fabulous contrast with its luxuriant green foliage. Even the leaf stalks or petioles are a bright red color.
    Its pinnate fronds are stiff to arching, and leaflets (about 50 leaflets per leaf) that are slender and linear-shaped with pointed tips are closely and pleasantly arranged in feather-like form.

    Curved inflorescence of Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm)The curved inflorescence, borne at the base of the crownshafts on matured trees all year round, are branched and green, turning red gradually.
    It is monoecious, meaning flowers of both sexes are borne on the same tree.
    The inconspicuous flowers will develop into tiny oblong black fruits with scarlet base when ripe and turn into ovoid seeds.
  • Culture (Care): Cyrtostachys renda is such an easy plant to grow, care and maintain in the tropics.
    Light: Grows best in filtered sun or bright light, though can thrive in full sun to partial/full shade. The Lipstick Palm enjoys heat and high humidity.
    Moisture: Lots of water regularly. Native to coastal swamps, they are highly tolerant of flooding and can be grown in standing water.
    Soil: Best in rich, moist and loamy soils but adaptable to any well-drained soils.
    Others: If container-grown, remove some of the very young suckers to avoid congestion as the Lipstick Palm suckers generously. Recommended too that the cluster-size of ground-grown palms be controlled by trimming off excess suckers – easier to remove them when very young, otherwise can be a handful. Clip off withered leaves with sharp shears, if within reach, to maintain tidiness. Monthly feeding with a balanced fertilizer is beneficial. This palm is generally free of serious pests or diseases.
    For subtropical regions: Hardiness: Zone 11. The Lipstick palm is extremely cold sensitive and temperature should not drop below 10°C (50°F), otherwise may be fatal. Where not hardy, best to grow in containers as an outdoor palm in summer and indoor palm during the winter.
  • Propagation: By seeds. Best to use fresh seeds that will germinate between 2-4 months, otherwise older seeds may take up to a year to germinate.
    It can also be propagated by division of suckers that emerge freely from the parent plant. Use a very sharp spade or shovel to gently separate the very young and small suckers, together with the roots and grow them as new plants. Learn how-to propagate here.
  • Usage: Cyrtostachys renda/lakka (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm), lining up the road dividerSpectacular as a landscape palm tree with its striking red trunks and beautiful green foliage. A catchy ornamental specimen for home gardens, patios, parks, offices and public areas, like shopping malls or poolside areas. Because of its clumping habit, Red Sealing Wax Palm will be excellent as screen or hedges, and look great along sidewalks, road dividers, highways and byways. Being slow-growing, it can be ideally grown as indoor plants in large containers or above-ground planters to contain palm height.

External links:

Enjoy a few more pictures of Cyrtostachys renda (Red Sealing Wax Palm, Lipstick Palm, Rajah Palm) :

Clustered trunks of Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm) Curved inflorescence of Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm)

Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm), with numerous suckers

Last edit: November 7 2011

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11 Responses to “Exotic tropical Lipstick Palm (Cyrtostachys renda)”

  1. Janie Says:

    It is a beautiful palm. Yours is a very informative blog.

  2. james Says:

    This palm look so much like a red bamboo. Wonder if anyone strip off the leaves and keep them clear & tall – one can never say whether its a varigated of bamboo or palm.
    Thanks for sharing – its sure a show stopper!

  3. Jacqueline Says:

    Janie, it’s a stunner indeed! Thanks so much for your kind comments, really made our day! :)

    James, you’re most welcome…our joy really in sharing! Thanks a lot for visiting and sharing your thoughts. Oh really, I’ve never seen a red bamboo before…hope to get a glimpse of one someday. ;)

  4. Autumn Belle Says:

    What a sexy name for the pinang merah. TQVM for finding out this name. Now I have one more UFO (unidentified flowering object) to crack my head over. I see a lot of these trees grown in houses and temples. When I shifted to my new house, a landscaping company recommended it and I planted 3 of them to create the Fu Lu So effect. I can’t imagine how you can remove the whole plant without the help of many many muscles!

    Jacq, having your blog J&J in Blotanical and commenting back and forth is like attending botany class with my study group. It is inded fun!

  5. james Says:

    Hi Jacqueline,
    I have awarded you the Scrap Blog award on my blog. I would love to have you participate, because I enjoy your blog very much. It would be great to learn more about you. If you don’t want to, I understand.

  6. Jacqueline Says:

    LOL! Sexy….and botany class, what a lovely perspective, Autumn Belle!
    Hehe…my one and only muscled man, ie John, was much younger then, so no problem, but resulting blisters on hands and body-aches taught us never to plant another Lipstick Palm again.
    Fun indeed, thanks for your friendship.

  7. Jacqueline Says:

    James, thanks for the award, though sorry to disappoint…I wish to decline.

  8. Edi Says:

    haiz. i use sucker to propagate it
    but never sucuess
    now use the seed. it germinated.
    haha

  9. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi Edi! For a sucker to succeed, it must have roots when initially detached from the parent plant otherwise doomed to fail as proven in our propagation project as related @ http://www.jaycjayc.com/propagate-lipstickpalm-cyrtostachys-renda/
    Nice to know you got a plant via seed.
    Happy gardening!

  10. Evelyn Folch Says:

    Thank you very much for the information about lipstick palm care and trimming. After looking in a lot of places you offered the most complete information.

  11. Jacqueline Says:

    You’re most welcome, Evelyn! Thank you for your much-appreciated generous comment.

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