Carludovica 'Jungle Drum'

A new houseplant has made its debut in our local plant market! Frequent visitors to our local nurseries may have spotted an attractive, palm-like plant with uniformly green and pleated leaves. Each leaf is curiously split halfway in the center to give two lobes.

The identity of this new introduction is still hotly debated over. Some think it may be aCyclanthus, Asplundia or Carludovica. Interestingly, these three genera of plants belong to the Cyclanthaceae family. The Flower Council of Holland currently labels it as Carludovica 'Jungle Drum'; this new plant is available all year round from the Dutch auctions via the product code 103128.

The most well-known Carludovica species is the Panama hat plant, C. palmata. The young leaves of this plant are traditionally used to make Panama brimmed hats. Several specimens are planted along the road leading to the Botany Centre and Floral Walk in HortPark.


Carludovica species are native to tropical America and they grow in the shady and wet, lowland forest understorey. They are hence well adapted to our tropical climate and the dimly-lit environment encountered indoors. What is most attractive about this plant is that Carludovica 'Jungle Drum' does not suffer from dry leaf tips or edges. It can tolerate low humidity conditions in high-rise environments.

Most of the plants being sold in the nursery are young and are at most 30 cm high. They will grow bigger with time and will make good specimen plants in shadier parts of the garden. Young plants can be grown inside a pot and used for indoor display.

Carludovica 'Jungle Drum' will thrive in fertile, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Do water the plant regularly to keep the soil moist at all times. It can also be fed using slow-release fertiliser pellets.

Although it can tolerate low light conditions, Carludovica 'Jungle Drum' certainly prefers to be grown somewhere brighter in the long term. A location with filtered sunshine for 6 hours daily would be ideal.

By Wilson Wong

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