Areca gurita

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Areca (ah-REHK-ah)
gurita (goo-REE-tah)
Scientific Classification
Genus: Areca (ah-REHK-ah)
gurita (goo-REE-tah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering & caespitose.
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Photo-Dr. C.D. Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011.
This species is known from several collections in Bintulu Division and Miri Division of Sarawak. Heath forest to montane forest, from an elevation 80-750 m above sea level. (C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011)


Clustering with many suckers, small, undergrowth palmlet. Stem to 1.5 m high, 1 cm in diam.; internodes 3 cm long, smooth and green near the crown, light brown to whitish near the base. Leaves about 11 in crown, pinnate, about 32 cm long (including petiole); sheath tubular, about 20 cm long and 1-2 cm wide, light brown to brown, and light brown when dried; crown shaft well-defined, up to 30 cm long and 1-2 cm in diam.; petiole about 3 cm long, channeled adaxially, rounded abaxially; rachis very slender with adaxial longitudinal ridge, rounded abaxially; blade with irregularly arranged leaflets, 2-4 leaflets on each side, spacing between leaflets 1.5-3 cm; leaflets from narrow to broad, leaflets near petiole about 15 × 3 cm, slightly sigmoid, tip obligue acuminate, the middle leaflets about about 12 × 2 cm, linear with 1 vein, the terminal leaflets broad, flabellate, about 15 × 6 cm, margin toothed, papery, concolorous. Inflorescence infrafoliar, erect, small and compact, to 10 cm long and to 10 cm wide, protandrous, always branching to 1 order; peduncle short to 3 cm, covered in thick brown indumentum; prophyll persistent; rachis also covered in rusty brown indumentum; rachillae 3-8 (including main axis), divaricate, to 10 cm long and about 5 mm wide near base, recurved. Floral clusters uniseriate, but spiral at the tip of rachillae, 1?3 complete triads including female flowers occurring near the base of rachilla and more (5?15 flower clusters) on terminal rachilla. Staminate flowers small, triangular to rounded, 2-2.5 × 1.5-1.80 mm, asymmetric, white to cream; calyx fused, triangular cup-shaped, about 1.5 × 1 mm before anthesis, 3-lobed, light brown to brown; petals 3, fused near base, obovate, 2-2.2 × 1.2-1.5 mm at anthesis, white to cream-coloured; stamens 6, 1.5-1.7 mm × 0.5 mm, basifixed; anthers about 1.2 × 0.5 mm, cream-coloured, sagittate, longer than filaments; filaments about 0.5 × 0.2 mm, dark brown, connective linear; pistillode absent. Pistillate flowers larger than the staminate, triangular, about 5.5 mm long and 3.5 mm wide before anthesis, greenish; sepals 3, strongly imbricate, 4?4.5 × 4 mm before anthesis, somewhat triangular, asymmetrical; petals 3, imbricate, triangular, about 4.5 × 4 mm before anthesis; lacking staminodes; gynoecium about 4 mm (including stigma). Fruits (young) white with green at the tip, obovoid with beak, about 2 cm long and 1 cm wide (young fruit still in development), apical stigmatic remains, mature fruits not seen. (C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Areca gurita is similar to A. minuta in habit, leaves and general appearance. However, they can easily be differentiated by inflorescence structure and flower arrangement. The rachillae of A. gurita are recurved and resemble octopus tentacles, and the flowers are mostly uniseriate. The rachillae are numerous (3-8 including terminal rachilla) and the anther connective is also linear, rather than the rachillae being few (usually with only 3 rachillae), the flowers arranged spirally on the rachillae and the furcate connective in A. minuta. The flower arrangement in A. gurita appears to be a modification from spiral to uniseriate; spirally arranged flowers still persist at the tip of rachillae. The rachillae are expanded on one side and display all flowers in the one direction. (C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011)/Palmweb.


Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: The specific epithet gurita, is the Malay word for octopus, which reflects the curious appearance of the inflorescence of this species.

Conservation: Endangered (EN B2ab). This species is known from only four localities in the wild, at least one of which may have been destroyed. Only one locality falls within a protected area (Lavang forest). Areca gurita is cultivated in Semengoh Forest Arboretum near Kuching where the palm grows well and sets fruit. However, further population study is needed to assess the conservation status of this palm, considering the trend of deforestation rates in the region. (C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011)/Palmweb.

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).

C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011

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

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