Arenga engleri

Geoff Stein - Author & Editor

Pronunciation: uh-RENG-uh ENG-gler-eye

Common Name: Dwarf Sugar Palm

Arenga engleri is a very adaptable, hardy, suckering palm from Japan and Taiwan. It is a fairly common palm in cultivation and easily grown in most conditions. Plants grown in full sun tend to be more compact with more arching branches, while those in shade conditions more upright and etiolated. Wonderful smelling flowers but toxic fruits. Does require some regular trimming/grooming as flowering stems die, and older plants get ratty looking. Good beginner palm.

Appearance and Biology
  • Habit: stemless to short-stemmed; suckering
  • Height: 15 feet
  • Trunk: multiple 3"-5" thick, covered in fibrous weave
  • Crownshaft: none
  • Spread: 7'-15'
  • Leaf Description: pinnate with long, premorsely-tipped leaflets of dull green to green-grey, whitish underneath; leaves fairly stiff, arching and in a flat plane
  • Petiole: 1' or less with flattish upper surface
  • Reproduction: monoecious, but monocarpic- flowering stem dies but plant lives on since has multiple stems
  • Inflorescence: many branched with bright yellow to orange flowers that have a strong, sweet aroma
  • Fruit: about 3cm, spherical yellow-red-brown to finally black when ripe; oxylates in flesh that can sting fingers and oral mucosa- toxic
  • Seed: 2cm spherica brown
Horticultural Characteristics
  • Minimum Temp: 15F
  • Drought Tolerance: good though prefers a lot of water
  • Dry Heat Tolerance: good
  • Wind Tolerance: good
  • Salt Tolerance: low
  • Growth Rate: slow
  • Soil Preference: very adaptable to most soil types
  • Light Requirement: full sun to shade
  • Human Hazards: toxic fruits
  • Disease or Horticultural Problems: few
  • Indoor?: tolerates indoor conditions, but leaves are rough and scratchy, prone to spider mite, needs a lot of light
  • Transplanting: fairly tolerant

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