Found in the Norfolk Is. Grows naturally only on the Lord Howe Island group, in the Tasman sea about 500 mi (804 km) off the eastern coast of New South Wales, Australia. The climate on Lord Howe Island is subtropical, warm to cool. Kentia palms grow in extensive colonies at low to moderate altitudes, less than 2870 ft (875 m) above sea level.
Howea forsteriana has a canopy of about three dozen gracefully drooping leaves which produce an airy and poised look. The leaves are pinnate (featherlike) and grow up to 12 ft (3.7 m) long with thornless 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5 m) petioles (leaf stems). The leaflets are like fingers, 2.5 ft (0.8 m) long and 2 in (5 cm) wide; they bend downward in a graceful fashion. Kentia palm leaflets are dark green on top and lighter green on the bottom. The mature spread ranges from 10-20 ft (3-6 m) across, and the height may range from 15-30 ft (4.6-9 m), and can reach 60 ft (18.3 m). The trunk is swollen at the base and has slightly raised annular trunk rings. The kentia palm produces an inflorescence about 3.5 ft (1.1 m) long which consists of white flowers on 3-7 spikes which are fused at their bases. Male and female flowers are produced in the same inflorescence. Mature fruits are dull red and egg shaped, about 1.5 in (3.8 cm) long.
Kentia palms tolerate and adapt to a wide variety of soils including those that are neutral, acidic, clayey and slightly alkaline, but they perform best in rich loamy soil with excellent drainage. Kentia palms are traditionally slow growers, however regular fertilization with palm-grade fertilizer promotes maximum growth. A balanced (e.g., 18-18-18) slow-release palm fertilizer with minor elements should be used during the growing season. Magnesium and potassium nutritional deficiencies have been noted, particularly in older kentias. Mineral supplements should be administered in recommended amounts to prevent or treat such deficiencies. Kentia palms in pots or tubs can be left in the same container for many years due to their slow growth.