A beautiful cabada palm adds class to a circa 1965 West palm Beach motel.
Related to the attractive but somewhat overused areca palm (Dypsis lutescens), the cabada palm (D. cabadae) is larger and has a very attractive trunk but unfortunately is seldom seen in cultivation.
The cabada palm grows taller than the common areca - up to 30 ft (9 m) versus 20 ft (6 m). As with the areca palm, cabada palm has a clustering habit with each stem holding 6 to 10 pinnately shaped deep green leaves. Each leaf is 8-10 ft (2.4-3 m) in length with 2 ft (60 cm) long leaflets. Although the cabada palm's leaves arch like those of the areca palm, they are held a bit more stiffly to the trunk, giving the cabada palm a very stately and majestic appearance. The cabada palm has short petioles and a long grey green crownshaft. However it is the trunk that really sets this palm apart. The trunk has a smooth green appearance with prominent whitish grey rings similar to bamboo. This makes a very attractive architectural accent in a landscape. The flowers are yellow in color and held in a heavily branched inflorescence. The red fruits are about 1/2 in (1 cm) long and are not a skin irritant as are some palm fruits.
The cabada palm (Dypsis cabadae), like its close kin the areca palm (D. lutescens), is believed to have originated in Madagascar (where unfortunately it has never been found in the wild). It was introduced to the U.S. when it was discovered in cultivation in Cuba!
Considering the cabada palm's nondemanding cultural requirements, it's a mystery why this palm is not seen more often in cultivation. Cabada palm is adaptable to a wide range of soils, light and fertility. It has moderate salt tolerance. Light: Plant this palm in bright sun to light shade. Moisture: For fastest growth keep the soil moist; however cabada palm is moderately drought tolerant. Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 - 11. Propagation: Cabada palm is propagated either by removing the suckers that develop at the base, or by seeds which take 1-2 months to germinate.
The cabada's beautiful crownshaft is seen in a spectrum of colors from grey green to green to yellow green, and in young specimens highlighted in orange, red and bronze!
The cabada palm is an excellent accent palm for a patio, walkway or group planting to show off its unique ringed trunk as well as its foliage. Young plants often have reddish bronze leaf stems that sound an especially tropical note.
This beautiful palm is large and relatively fast growing for a palm (although slower growing than the areca). The chic cabada palm will bestow a trendy South Beach tropical look to any space that it inhabits. This palm is highly recommended and should be used more where it can be grown.