nRhapisgenus of small clump-forming fan palms of China and Japan
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
nrhapisA genus of palms of the tribe Corypheæ. It is characterized by a fruit of one to three small obovoid one-seeded carpels, each tipped by a terminal style, with a fleshy pericarp which is fibrous within, and with a soft endocarp, and by flowers mostly diœcious, sessile and solitary on the slender branches of a leafy spadix, with a three-cleft valvate corolla, anthers opening outward, and three distinct ovary-carpels borne on an elongated pedicel or carpophore. There are 4 or 5 species, natives of China and Japan. They are low palms with reed-like stems springing up in dense tufts from the same root, each stem wrapped in a network of fibers which are the remnants of leaf-sheaths. They bear alternate and terminal roundish leaves, irregularly and radiately parted into linear, wedge-shaped, or elliptical segments with conspicuous transverse veins. The yellowish flowers are borne on a spadix which is shorter than the leaves and is sheathed along its axis with deciduous bracts, the whole at first inclosed within two or three membranous spathes. The slender stems of R. flabelliformis, the ground-ratan, are available for numerous uses (see ratan), and the plant is one of the best for table decoration. R. humilis is a beautiful species, rare in collections.