A huge 30-40 ft. (9-12 m) member of the banana family from Madagascar, which forms a woody trunk resembling a palm. The leaves are huge, resembling banana leaves. The petioles are opposed forming a fan shape. The inflorescence resembles those of Heliconia, but are green.
The plant gets it's common name Traveller's Palm from the fact that the leaf bracts hold water and passing travellers drink it. However, I have tried many times to extract water from these unsuccessfully. But nobody would ever need to as water is readily available in Madagascar where these occur. Another supposed reason for it's name is that the fan of leaves form in an east - west orientation, and therefore travellers can get their bearings. Although, they are more often than not east - west oriented they aren't always, and dense clumps grow in all which ways looking very untidy. Another name is the Blue Traveller's Palm. Now the blue I know refers to the blue bracts present on the seeds. The South American Red Traveller's Palm (Phenakospermum guyannense) has red bracts.
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