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Cyrtostachys renda


Cyrtostachys renda Blume

Family Name: Arecaceae (Palmae)
Synonyms: Cyrtostachys lakka Becc.
Common Name: Sealing-wax Palm, Pinang Rajah, Maharajah Palm, Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Palm (Cluster Palm)
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 12 m


Native Distribution Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, and Borneo.
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Riverine, Freshwater Swamp Forest), Shoreline
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form A clumping palm, up to 12 m tall, with characteristically bright red leaf sheaths (each about 60 cm long) around the stems. Naturally growing in swamps and highly tolerant of flooding. Cultivated as an ornamental palm for its attractive bright red stems and leaf stalks.
Foliage Leaves, measuring about 1.5 m long and 0.6 m wide, have bright red stalks and mid-ribs and are pinnate and alternately-arranged. Each leaf consists of leaflets that are boat-shaped, slightly grey on the underside and about 45 cm long and 4 cm wide.
Crown Shaft Crown shaft is distinctively red in colour.
Flowers Its branched flowering shoot is first green before turning to red, with two large spathes (modified leaves) that are 60 cm by 60 cm. Flowers are pollinated by bees.
Fruits Its tiny one-seeded fruits are ellipsoidal in shape, 8-10 by 4-5 mm.
Habitat It grows near the sea, by tidal rivers, and in freshwater or peat swamp forests.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are pollinated by insects. The fruits are eaten by birds. It is the host-plant for the moth species Parasa lepida.
Cultivation Preferring rich loamy soil, that has to be kept moist as this palm is not drought-tolerant, quickly withering with water stress. Suitable for garden, parks and roadside planting. Also can be grown at the edges of ponds or reservoirs as it is tolerant of water-logged conditions. The outer wood of the stem is hard and used to make darts. This palm is also the symbol of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Etymology Greek cyrtos, curved, Greek, stachys, spike, referring to the curved inflorescence, 
Ethnobotanical Uses [Others]: The hard outer wood of the stem is used to make darts. This palm is the symbol of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping Its bright scarlet leaf sheaths make this palm one of the most attractive of palms. It is an ornamental palm suitable for gardens, parks, roadsides and around the edges of ponds and water bodies.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Stems, Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Form
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site, Does not Drain Site), Moist Soils, Heavy Clay Soils
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, General, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Hedge / Screening, Riverine, Pond / Lake / River, Marsh / Bog, Focal Plant

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting (Fruits), Caterpillar Moth Food Plant
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water, Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Sucker, Division


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Compound (Odd-Pinnate)
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Palm Fronds (Pinnate / Feather)
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.0 (Palm - Cluster)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Palm) Clustering Habit, Aboveground

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Unisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Monoecious
Flower Colour(s) Green, Red, Cream / Off-White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Black
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Non-Accessory Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 1325
Species ID 2618
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 04 August 2022.