Rhapis excelsa (Thunb.) A.Henry

First published in J. Arnold Arbor. 11: 153 (1930)
This species is accepted
The native range of this species is China (Guangdong) to N. Central Vietnam. It is a shrub or tree and grows primarily in the wet tropical biome. It is has environmental uses and as a medicine.


Habitat. woods, 3080 ft (939 m); river valley; wooded mountain side.
China, Yunnan; South Central China, Hainan; South East China, Guangdon, Fujian, Hongkong; Japan.
General Description
Stems to 2.5 m tall, with sheaths 15–21 mm diam., without sheaths 8–12 mm. Leaf sheath loosely sheathing the stem, usually with outer and inner fibers of similar thickness, producing a squared mesh, some young sheaths with flatter, coarser outer fibers and tomentum, ligule not remaining intact at maturity; petiole to 4 mm wide, margin often smooth, rarely minutely scabrid, often bearing brown papillae; blade with V-shaped or semi-circular outline, variable in size, often with a conspicuous palman, segments (1)4–13, folds 11–25, to 375 mm long, broad, relatively straightsided, narrowing slightly at base and apex, apices sometimes cucculate, usually truncate, with regular dentate secondary splitting, primary splits to within 2.5–61 mm of the blade base, sometimes with brown papillae at the base and along the ribs, sometimes scabrid along the adaxial ribs, thick in texture, adaxial and abaxial surfaces similar in colour, often with a yellow tinge, adaxial occasionally darker, transverse veinlets conspicuous. Inflorescence, male and female similar in general appearance, branching to 2 or 3 orders; prophyll tubular, overlapping the base of the first rachis bract, relatively thin in texture, reddish brown, sometimes darker at the base, inner surface smooth, outer surface with tomentum often only at the distal end; rachis bracts 2(–3), sometimes with a distal incomplete rachis bract, similar in appearance to prophyll; rachis overall length to 260 mm, 4–8 mm diam., rachillae 7.5–110 mm long, 0.8–1.9 mm diam., usually glabrous, pale brown, sometimes with small patches of caducous tomentum. Flowers densely packed on the rachillae. Male flowers globose when young, elongating when mature to 5.2 × 3.8 mm; calyx to 2.8 mm, lobes to 2 mm, usually with a regular margin; corolla sometimes narrowed into a short receptacular-stalk to 1 mm; filaments, shorter row to 2.2 mm, longer row to 2.5 mm, broad, to 0.4 mm, with adaxial keel, triangular in cross section; pistillode sometimes present. Female flowers to 3.6 × 3.2 mm; calyx to 2.3 mm; corolla with a receptacular-stalk to 1.1 mm; staminodes present. Fruit sometimes with 3 carpels developing, often only one reaching maturity, to 8–10 × 8 mm, borne on a short receptacular-stalk to 2 mm, epicarp shiny translucent, minutely papillose, with conspicuous black lenticels.

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. http://catalogoplantasdecolombia.unal.edu.co

Cultivada en Colombia; Alt. 0 - 1600 m.
Morphology General Habit

Elevation range: 0–1600 m a.s.l. Cultivated in Colombia. Colombian departments: Antioquia, Cundinamarca, Tolima, Valle del Cauca.
Habitat according IUCN Habitats Classification: forest and woodland, artificial - terrestrial.

Extinction risk predictions for the world's flowering plants to support their conservation (2024). Bachman, S.P., Brown, M.J.M., Leão, T.C.C., Lughadha, E.N., Walker, B.E. https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nph.19592

Predicted extinction risk: not threatened. Confidence: confident

Bernal, R., G. Galeano, A. Rodríguez, H. Sarmiento y M. Gutiérrez. 2017. Nombres Comunes de las Plantas de Colombia. http://www.biovirtual.unal.edu.co/nombrescomunes/

palma rafis, rapis


Use Environmental
Environmental uses.
Use Materials
Used as material.
Use Medicines
Medical uses.

Common Names

Lady Palm


  • Angiosperm Extinction Risk Predictions v1

    • Angiosperm Threat Predictions
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0
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    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
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    • Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2023 World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Kew Living Collection Database

    • Common Names from Plants and People Africa http://www.plantsandpeopleafrica.com/
  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2023 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Palmweb - Palms of the World Online

    • Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet http://www.palmweb.org. Accessed on 21/04/2013
    • Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
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    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
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    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0