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What is Latania?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Latania is the genus name for three species of single-stemmed palms, also called by their common name latan palms. Originating in the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean, these palms prefer to grow in areas that are seasonally dry and hot. They are most often found near the coastline of these islands, located east of the Madagascar. The Latania species are nearly extinct in their native lands because of the urbanization and loss of their natural habitat.

The leaves of the various species of Latania are fan-like and are typically gray to light green in color. All three species produce panicles, or comb-like clusters of bowl-shaped flowers. The individual flowers in the panicles each have three petals. The colors of the flower blossoms typically vary from species to species, but white and light green are the most common.

Latania species grow best in warm climate, so if the temperature falls below about 61 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius), the palms should be moved to a warm greenhouse. If they are grown in a greenhouse, they grow best in potting soil with sand and leaf mold added. In addition, they prefer to grow in full light, but they should be shaded from the hot, direct sunlight. If they are grown outdoors, they should be in soil that is well-draining and in full sunlight.

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The blue latan palm, also known by its Latin name, Latania loddigesii, is a rather small palm with blue-green leaves. It produces panicles or comb-like clusters of light green or white flowers in the summer months. These panicles may grow to about 5 feet (1.5 m) long. This palm can reach heights of more than 50 feet (about 15.2 m) and widths of more than 11 feet (about 3.4 m).

The red latan palm, Latania lontaroides, is aptly named after its reddish colored leaf blades and stalks. It produces panicles of cream, white, or light green colored flowers during the summer months as well. It, too, can reach heights of more than 50 feet (about 15.2 m) and widths of more than 11 feet (about 3.4 m).

The yellow latan palm, Latania verschaffeltii, has lighter green colored leaf blades that have yellow margins. In young palms, orange veins are visible in the leaf blades as well. The summer blossoms in the yellow latan palm are usually light green or white in color, but they are much larger than the other two species, with panicles growing to about 10 feet (3.04 m) long.

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