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Kentia Palm

Williams, Kevin. 2007. Seed to Elegance: Kentia Palms of Norfolk Island, South Pacific. Norfolk Island: Studio Monarch. Purchase via


The palms that are common around Norfolk Island are the Kentias, Howea belmoreana and Howea forsteriana, endemic to Lord Howe Island but not Norfolk, which has its own endemic palm Rhopalostylis baueri.

School teacher TB Wilson of Lord Howe Island deposited a quantity of Kentia Palm seeds at Norfolk Island in 1881. Palm seeds were exported from Lord Howe Island to England from about 1898 to meet demand from the greenhouse trade. The palm was found to flourish indoors and became a favourite houseplant of the European nobility and reportedly a particular favourite of Queen Victoria. Williams reports that in 1899 some 2 million seeds were auctioned in London.

From the early 1900s, supply was diversified to include Norfolk. Pitcairn descendant Ivens ‘Pullis’ Nobbs is credited with pioneering the Kentia industry, after his return from World War II.

Williams describes the Kentia as “the most common ornamental palm species in the world” because it requires little maintenance or light. Norfolk still supplies 90% or more of all Kentia products sold via the international flower auction house in Aalsmeer, The Netherlands.