Lord Howe Island

The Kentia Palm is native only to Lord Howe Island, 470 miles N.E. of Sydney, Australia. The remote island is a lonely and exotic outpost in the vast Pacific Ocean. It is in this unique and isolated environment that the world's best selling indoor palm, the Kentia, naturally thrives.

The Start of the Kentia Business: The first tiny settlement on Lord Howe Island supported itself by supplying the ships of the whaling industry which flourished in the Pacific Ocean throughout the 19th century.

As whaling declined, however, a new source of income was desperately needed. At first, the islanders attempted to sell their produce, but it was the humble native palm (Howea forsteriana) they used to thatch their houses which eventually saved them.

Still called the thatch palm by many islanders, it has become the most popular decorative palm in the world.

Maintaining the Quality: At first, and until the early 1980's, it was only the seeds of the Kentia Palm which were exported. Now, however, only small trees and shot seedlings of the highest quality, which have been carefully nurtured in the nursery on Lord Howe Island can be sold.

There are many reasons for this obsession with quality control; most importantly, the reputation of the Kentia Palm is precious to the islanders. Kentia Palms grown elsewhere have exhibited inconsistencies of quality and it was this the islanders wanted to stop. So ended the export of seeds.

It is because of this quality that Cal-Palm has chosen to grow its Kentia Palms directly from the Lord Howe seedlings, instead of producing their own seeds or buying seeds from less quality producers.

All the seedlings exported from Lord Howe were started from seeds gathered from the natural forest. This means that every seedling is a first generation descendant of the mother stock which have been growing for centuries in their natural environment. This is the horticultural equivalent of real pearls versus cultured pearls.

Only islanders experienced in the collection of seeds are permitted to harvest them from the mature Kentia Palms. And, as this is askill passed down from one generation to the next, most collectors are descendants of the original settlers who have performed this task for over a century.

The combined experience of the islanders and the Lord Howe Board guarantees that only mature viable seed is harvested and that the resulting seedlings are always of the highest quality and vigour.

The Kentia Palm Life: Kentia Palms begin producing seeds once they are mature, after about 12-15 years. It is still not known how long the palms can live, but one of the trees on the island's golf course with the date 1885 carved on its trunk, still produces seed.

The average yield from a mature Kentia Palm each season is around 8-7 kilograms of seed. Some of the most prolifc plants on the island can produce as much as three times that amount.