Areca brachypoda

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Areca (ah-REHK-ah)
brachypoda (brah-ee-POH-dah)
Gunung Puch, Logged-over Kerangas, Sarawak, Malaysia. Photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Areca (ah-REHK-ah)
brachypoda (brah-ee-POH-dah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary & Acaulescent.
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Borneo, Sarawak, 1st Division, G. Pueh Forest Reserve, known only from the type.
Gunung Puch, Logged-over Kerangas, Sarawak, Malaysia. Photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
In G. Pueh Forest Reserve, A brachypoda is quite common in kerangas forest where it seems to be confined to sloping ground near valley bottoms at an altitude of about 50 m above sea level. (J. Dransfield, The genus Areca (Palmae: Arecoideae) in Borneo. 1984)/Palmweb.


Acaulescent, solitary, undergrowth palmlet. Stem very short, subterra- nean, to about 6 X 2.5 cm, bearing very close leaf scars and abundant adventitious roots, about 3 mm in diam. Leaf sheaths 11 cm long, about 7 cm in basal circumference, marcescent, forming only an obscure crownshaft, splitting along ± entire length opposite the petiole, tinged dull brownish-red, longitudinally striate, bearing scattered, minute blackish scales; ligule absent. Leaf excluding sheath about 115 cm, including petiole to 41 x 0.5 cm; lamina bifid, gradually widening from the insertion to about 12 cm wide, at the base of the cleft at about 1/2 the total lamina length, the lobes decreasing to about 4 cm wide at the apex, about 10 folds on each side of the rachis, the apical margins very briefly lobed, with lobes corresponding to the folds; adaxial lamina surface dark dull green, abaxial surface slightly paler. Inflorescence interfoliar. branching to 1 order only; prophyll to 50 x 1.25 cm, flattened, pale green, bearing obscure, scat- tered pale brown scales; peduncle becoming arcuate, about 40 cm long, ? elliptic in cross section becoming striate on drying, bearing abundant dark brown scales; rachillae 3 (? rarely more), spreading, sinuous, about 13 x 0.3 cm, pale green, bearing scales as on the peduncle, the basal about 2 cm bare of flowers; triads confined to the mid-portion of the central rachilla (the main axis), the lateral rachillae without triads or with a few in the proximal about 1/3, the rest of the rachilla bearing rather distant, spirally arranged, solitary or paired staminate flowers. Staminate flower trigonous, ± as broad as long; calyx to 2 mm, the base slightly stipitate, apically with 3 slightly imbricate, low, ciliate triangular lobes, the surface minutely papillose to scaly; corolla about 3-5 mm, with 3 broad, triangular, valvate, glabrous petals joined only at the very base; stamens 15-16 crowded into an ill-defined ring, the anthers aligned ± radially rather than circumferentially; filaments free, slender 0.3-0.8 mm, anthers somewhat misshapen, 1-1.5 mm X 0.4 mm, latrorse (with respect to connective); pistillode lacking, though floral apex ? visible. Pistil- late flower broadly ellipsoidal about 12 X 5-5 mm; calyx about 6 mm, with a solid base to 2.5 mm, and 3 broad, triangular, somewhat cucullate, ciliate, scaly, imbricate sepals, to 5 x 6 mm; petals 3, free glabrous, about 9 x 6 mm, imbricate in the proximal portion, valvate in distal about 2 mm, the imbricate margins ciliate; staminodes 8 (? always), minute, flattened; ovary ellipsoidal, about 9 x 3 mm, tipped by 3 broad, triangular stigmas to 2 x 1.5 mm. Young fruit green tinged brownish, fusiform, to 22 x 5 mm; tipped by the stigmatic remains; mature fruit not known. (J. Dransfield, The genus Areca (Palmae: Arecoideae) in Borneo. 1984)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

In the field I had identified this palm as Pichisermollia subacaulis (Areca subacaulis), and it was not until I examined the material in detail back at Kew that I realized that what I had collected was a new species. A brachypoda belongs to section Microareca; the interfoliar inflorescence isolates it from other species of the section except for A. subacaulis. The latter is easily distinguished by the rachillae ending in conspicuous stiff points devoid of flowers, by the fusiform rather than globular flowers and by the 7-9 as opposed to 15-16 stamens. (J. Dransfield, The genus Areca (Palmae: Arecoideae) in Borneo. 1984)/Palmweb.


Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: The specific epithet refers to the short stem.

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

J. Dransfield, The genus Areca (Palmae: Arecoideae) in Borneo. 1984

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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