Caryota obtusa is by far the most massive of the Fishtail Palms. It is found scattered over a vast area between Northeast India, southwestern China and northern Thailand, always growing in the mountains. The form from Thailand, which has previously been described as C. gigas, was introduced into cultivation many years back.
This awesome and majestic Fishtail Palm has a thick trunk (to 60-90 cm (2-3 ft.) in diameter) and huge, flatly held leaves in the manner of a giant tree fern, which it resembles. The seeds germinate quickly, and subsequent growth is extremely fast--up to 1 m (3 ft.) per year once established.
The Indian form grows in the Himalayan foothills at altitudes of up to about 1000 m (3300 ft.), and much further north than the Thai form (C. gigas). While the two are not really different in appearance, the Indian form will likely grow in even cooler conditions, and tolerate even a few more degrees of frost. Grow it where its great size can best be appreciated, and give it plenty of water and fertilizer. It is a "must" for tropical and warm temperate parks and gardens.