Often called either traveler’s palm or traveler’s tree, Ravenala madagascariensis is palm-like and tree-like but is actually a gigantic relative of the more familiar bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia reginae).

Traveler's Palm
Photo: Traveler's Palm - Wikimedia Commons

Native to rainforest areas of Madagascar, it is the only species in its genus.

Its most distinctive feature is the unique two-ranked arrangement of the long stalked leaves providing a dramatic, flattened fan of foliage held against the sky.
One misconception is that the traveler’s tree is so named because its fans of foliage always face a certain direction and may be used as a compass by travelers; however, the real reason for the name is that both the flower bracts and leaf bases capture and hold large amounts of rainwater that can be used as a source of potable water by travelers in remote areas. It is highly sensitive to cold, but can grow in Southern California in a frost-free site not far from the ocean.

Traveller's palm facts from the Eden Project