Fishtail palms at SFO

Last night I was at San Francisco International Airport to pick up a family member. My favorite feature in the international arrivals hall is a long row of majestic fishtail palms. They are perfect plants for a major international airport because they suggest faraway exotic destinations.


I don’t know for sure which species of fishtail palm these are, but they are probably Caryota mitis. This seems to be the species most commonly grown indoors. Can anybody confirm this?


No matter what they are, they are stunning plants with truly remarkable foliage.




At SFO, they are planted in containers integrated into the floor. It’s impossible to guess how deep those might be.

130312_SFO_Caryota_04 130312_SFO_Caryota_06

Located on the arrivals level, the fishtail palms reach a good 15 feet into the air. Their tops are almost at the same level as the departures hall upstairs.

If I had a large enough space in our house, like an atrium, I’d get one of these stunners. Judging from where they are planted at SFO, they thrive in indirect light.


  1. Doesn't SFO have another hall where bamboo is planted? I remember seeing photos somewhere... So if you had a room like this, would you chose the palm over bamboo?

    Choose wisely...

  2. There's nothing like the Fishtail palms isn't it? Such a unique, graceful palm.


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