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Majesty Palm
Brittany Utting & Daniel Jacobs
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The Ravenea rivularis, popularly known as the Majesty Palm, is a species of palm native to South-central Madagascar. Although it can naturally grow to heights of 100 feet, since its domestication in the 1980s it commonly takes the form of a modest potted plant: leafy yet minimal, lush yet manageable, and desired for its tropical imagery. While millions of specimens circulate globally as an abundant and affordable commodity ($20 at Ikea or Home Depot), only an estimated 900 specimens survive in the wild, threatened by severe habitat loss due to deforestation and fires. The palm’s popularity as a cheap consumer product is in stark contrast to its enduring historic and symbolic significance in cultures and religions from around the world. The Majesty Palm represents immortality in Egypt, fertility in Mesopotamia, triumph in ancient Greece and Rome, victory in Judaism, resurrection in Christianity, and paradise in Islam, among countless other meanings and values.

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