Corypha utan

Distribution Map
Family: Arecaceae
Distribution: Grasslands and wetland margins in northern Australia. The plant also occurs in Asia from India to Papua New Guinea.
Common Name: Gebang Palm
Derivation of Name: Corypha.... From Greek coryphe, leader or head, a reference to the huge, terminal inflorescence..
utan.... derivation unknown.
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Corypha is a genus of palms consisting of five species. Corypha utan is the only member of the genus that occurs in Australia. They are monocarpic plants (ie. plants that flower, set seed and then die).

Corypha utan is a large palm which may reach 20 metres in height with a spread of up to 8 metres. The leaves are palmate and greyish green in colour. The plant may live to 50-60 years at which stage it sends up a huge, terminal inflorescence which may contain up to a million yellow or cream flowers, each about 6-8 mm in diameter. The flowers are followed by numerous dark green to black seeds about 10 mm in diameter. Once the seeds are mature and shed, the plant dies.

Corypha utan
Corypha utan (the plant on the left is flowering and will soon die)
Photo: Brian Walters

Corypha utan is not often seen in cultivation and is best suited to tropical climates but can be grown in warm temperate areas in full sun. It is reported to be slow growing and to require plenty of water to succeed.

Propagation can be carried out from seed which should be sown when fresh - no pretreatment is required. Seed germination methods for the related Corypha umbraculifera have been reported by the Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia.

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