Archontophoenix purpurea

Geoff Stein - Author & Editor

Pronunciation: ar-kon-tuh-FEE-nix purr-PURR-ee-uh

Common Name: Mount Lewis King Palm; Purple King Palm

Archotophoenix purpurea is one of the most attractive of the Archontophoenix and performs very well in most of the warmer areas of California. The purple of the crownshaft is its main ornamental feature making it unique among palms for California. Purple color seems to be more prominent with slight shaded, protected situations.

Appearance and Biology
  • Habit: solitary
  • Height: 40 feet
  • Trunk: clean, prominently ringed, 8" thick
  • Crownshaft: rust to a decidedly purplish grey or purple-green; 3 feet long and slightly bulging near the base
  • Spread: 12'-14'
  • Leaf Shape: 8 feet long, pinnate, flat with a slight twist in mature palms; leaves mostly upright with leaf tip rarely if ever at or below level of leaf base (compare to Archontophoenix cunninghamii in which lower leave's tips often below leaf bases); long, closely spaced leafelets
  • Petiole: very short, unarmed, deeply channeled
  • Foliage: bright green dorsally and silvery ventrally
  • Reproduction: monoecious
  • Inflorescence: highly branched, drooping, arising from immediately below crownshaft, purplish flowers
  • Fruit: red when ripe and nearly spherical about 2.5cm
  • Seed: black, spherical 1.5cm
Horticultural Characteristics
  • Minimum Temp: 26F, though some leaf damage occurs below 28F
  • Drought Tolerance: poor
  • Dry Heat Tolerance: moderate
  • Cool Tolerance: moderate to good
  • Wind Tolerance: poor inland, moderate more coastally
  • Salt Tolerance: poor
  • Growth Rate: slow to moderate (far slower than King Palm)
  • Soil Preference: widely adaptable, even tolerating heavy clay soils
  • Light Requirement: part to full sun
  • Human Hazards: minimal from falling leaves, or slippage on fruit/seeds on sidewalks
  • Disease or Horticultural Problems: few; transplants poorly, particularly with age
  • Indoor?: poor choice due to low light
  • Transplants?: low tolerance for it
  • Availability: rare

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