A new palm-like houseplant with attractive, uniformly green but relatively stiff and pleated leaves that are curiously split halfway in the center to give two lobes has surfaced in our local nurseries. The identity of this new introduction is given as Caulodovica ‘Jungle Drum’ but its true identity is still under debate. Although it is named as a cultivar of Caulodovica, there are sources on the Internet that suggest that it can also be either an Asplundia or Cyclanthus.
Little information about the care of this new houseplant is available at present and no one really knows for sure how big it will really grow. To infer some information, I referred what is known about the most common cultivated Carludovica species, C. palmata, commonly known as the Panama Hat Plant. A member of the Cyclanthaceae family, its young leaves are used to make the Panama brimmed hat. A native of tropical America, it thrives in the shady and wet lowland forest understorey and can grow up to about 2 m.
From this, I safely guess that Caulodovica ‘Jungle Drum’ will probably grow well under roughly the same environmental conditions. So far, I have grown ‘Jungle Drum’ in a well draining, fertile and moisture-retentive soil mixture which consists of burnt earth and well rotted compost has yielded relatively good results.
Because it is an understorey plant, I expect my plant to burn if placed under too bright an area. Hence, I situated my plant in deep shade indoors where not many plants will thrive. After a few weeks, there is a noticable tilt shown by the plant on one side as it reaches towards light. In order to ensure the plant does not develop a shewed growing position due to phototropism, I rotated my plant periodically. Otherwise, my ‘Jungle Drum’ specimen seems to thrive and has been observed to put forth a new leaf that is roughly the same size as the previous ones.
I watered my ‘Jungle Drum’ every other day to ensure the soil is kept moist but not wet. In a shaded location, this plant seem to be able to tolerate short periods of drought quite well, without showing obvious signs of wilt. Because of its rather slow growth rate, I fertilised it using slow-release chemical fertiliser granules.
I have two ‘Jungle Drum’ plant that are displayed in HortPark’s Lifestyle Corner which is air-conditioned during daylight hours. After a month or so, the leaf edges were observed to turn black and dry up. This is a typical response shown by a plant when it is grown in an environment with low humidity. From this, ‘Jungle Drum’ seems to be a plant that does not tolerate dry air. Its large leaves also mean that ‘Jungle Drum’ is best grown in a place that is not windy.
Looking like a dwarf palm with large pleated leaves, this Carludovica species will confer a bold, tropical and exotic feel to any tropical landscape. It will make a valuable plant candidate for growing under very shaded areas outdoors where aroids like Aglaonema, gingers and various other shade tolerant plants will not grow properly.