Black Wanga Palm
This palm is generally perceived to be the world's fastest growing palm. Native to northern Sulawesi (Celebes) in Indonesia, it is found in rainforests at altitudes between 450 and 900 m (1500 and 3000 ft.). It sports a large, very straight, columnar, glossy green trunk that holds a spherical crown of elegantly recurving pinnate leaves, V-shaped in cross section. Apparently an opportunistic plant, it establishes itself not in the closed forest but in gaps in the canopy. In cultivation, plants thus need good light early on. Though tropical in its requirements, P. elata is said to be a little hardier than its cousin P. filaris as P. elata is from a higher altitude, enabling it to grow in marginal areas such as Southern Florida. Even though seeds are rarely available, P. elata is far more commonly cultivated than P. filaris. The two species are easily told apart by their leafbases: as opposed to the sparsely spiny, waxy leafbases of P. filaris, the leafbases of P. elata are densely covered with masses of blackish spines.