The Kentia Palms of Lord Howe Island

on Wednesday, 19 May 2021. Posted in News

This week, the Kentia Palm was named as Favourite Office Plant of the Year. For me, it is the greatest office plant of all time.

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Twenty years ago, to the week, Rentokil Tropical Plants (now called Ambius) won its first Chelsea Gold Medal for its exhibit on the Kentia Palm, Howea forsteriana. The exhibit was in the part of the Grand Marquee dedicated to lifelong learning in the garden, and was set up to explain the extraordinary story of this iconic palm.

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Designed and set up by Paul Sturgess, the company’s Special Projects manager, the exhibit was in two parts. The first was a reproduction of a thatched whaler’s shack from Lord Howe Island (one of the palm’s common names is the Thatch Palm), together with seeds and freshly germinated seedlings of the plant. The seeds of the palms, collected from the Kentia forests on Lord Howe Island (the only place on Earth where they grow wild), are germinated by the Lord Howe Island palm nursery and sent around the world as tiny seedlings to commercial growers for growing into the plants we see inside buildings.

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The second part of the display was designed to resemble a modern nursery, with Kentia palms at all their different growth stages from small seedlings all the way to the large specimens that we are all familiar with.


The story of the Kentia palm is one of a valuable conservation effort that is also a hugely important and successful commercial activity. The popularity of this indoor palm tree in the office blocks and hotels of the world ensures the continued survival and protection of its unique natural habitat, on a tiny island, three hundred-odd miles off the East coast of Australia.

Kenneth Freeman
19 May 2021