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A rare flower in full bloom

G. Srinivasan

— Photo: M. Srinath

Once in a blue moon: A view of Traveller’s Palm Tree flower in Thanjavur .

Thanjavur: A travellers palm (Ravenala Madagascariensis-Botanical name) called “Visiri Vazhai” in Tamil is in bloom at a private house at Thanjavur.

The palm flowers blooms only once in its lifetime and after bearing the fruit and seeds it dries up. “However propagation can be done using seeds or replanting of the attractive clumps formed at the base of the plant,” said T. Gnanasekaran, Horticulturist, who has done the landscaping at the house.

The small white flowers are held in bracts. In these bracts and leaf folds, rainwater is collected. The fruits are brown while the seeds are blue.

According to Gnanasekaran, the flowers are bisexual and the male and female flowers are one above the other. Bracts of the flowers are stiff and boat like. The flowers are fifteen to 20 cm tall. The flower have, lateral sepals and stamens which are 10 to 12 cm long.

The palm is planted around the lawns, small roads or at the entrance to the building.

Botanists say that Travellers palm is one of nature’s most distinctive and remarkable plants.

Although this plant is called a palm, it is not true palm. It grows up to 40 ft tall while the big banana like leaves grow up to 15 ft long. Leaves are arranged in a fan shaped manner. It has a short trunk like palm.

The Travellers palm grows in sandy and clay soils with good drainage and thrives in rich moist loamy soils. It grows best in full sun but also grows well in part sunshade. Small plants should be shaded until well established.

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