| Allagoptera (ahl-lah-gohp-TEH-rah) |
Bees (European Bees) gathering pollen on flower (Allagoptera arenaria) - Restinga da Marambaia - Itaguaí - Mangaratiba - Rio de Janeiro - Brazil. Photo by Tony.
Habitat and DistributionAllagoptera arenaria is endemic to Brazil Northeast, Brazil Southeast.
Plumose-leaved, monoecious stemless to short-stemmed (acaulescent to 3 ft.), solitary, but a branching subterranean trunk, this palm is rhizomatous, giving it the appearance of a clustering palm, un-armed, leaflets are deep green with a prominent mid-rib and curl to various degrees depending on plant, age and climate. Flowers look sort of like corn-cobs on a long stick (peduncle). Very old plants can grow 9'/3 m to 15'/4.5 m wide (rare in cultivation). Editing by edric.
Allagoptera arenaria is popularly known as seashore palm, is a fruit tree endemic to the Atlantic Coast of Brazil. It grows in coastal strand, just above the high tide mark, and is widely cultivated as an ornamental throughout South America. The seashore palm is small in size, reaching about 6 feet (1.8 m) tall. The spiky flower stalks have both male and female flowers, so one plant can produce seeds by itself. The female flowers and the fruits that follow are borne in distinct spirals. The leaves of the seashore palm emerge right out of the ground from a subterranean trunk that is rarely visible, and grow in a swirling pattern, spreading out on different and seemingly random planes. There are 6–15 bright green to silvery green pinnately compound (feather-like) leaves 2–6 ft (0.61–1.8 m) long, with each leaflet about 2 ft (0.61 m) long. Its fruits are yellowish green and shaped like small coconuts, about 1 inch (25 mm) long and 0.5 in (13 mm) in diameter.
|Detailed Scientific Description|
Palm 1.5-2 m tall, stem to 1.5 m long, 10 cm. in diam., solitary, but subterranean (acaulescent) giving it the appearance of clustering, rhizomatous. Leaves 6- 10 in crown; sheath not tubular, fibrous; peliole 45-60 cm long, about 1 cm. in diam., covered with woolly indumentum mostly on basal portion; rachis 50-55 cm long, smooth and glabrous or with scarce white glands or with woolly hairs; pinnae 35-53 per side, broad and long-lanceolate, with acute tips, regularly inserted in groups of (1-)2-3(-4), 2-3 cm apart, inserted to rachis and spreading at different angles, glabrous at base or with ramenta to 3 mm long, the transverse veinlets evident adaxially, lemon-green and lustrous waxy adaxially, brown-glaucous and waxy abaxially, obtuse apex asymmetrically split for 0.3-0.5 cm, with midrib prominent adaxially and depressed abaxially; basal pinnae 25-35 x 0.8-1.1 cm; middle pinnae 20-45 x 1.1-2 cm; apical pinnae 6-24 x 0.1-0.6 cm. Inflorescences 65-100 cm long; peduncle 55-85 cm long, 0.4-0.6 cm. in diam., robust, muricate, scarcely to densely covered with floccose hairs; rachilla 10-15 cm long, bearing scarious bracteoles; prophyll 20-30 cm, tubul ar, scarious, covered with woolly indumentum in base; peduncular bract 60-80 cm long, 3-6 cm. in diam., apiculate, woody, sulcate, beige externally, brown-violet and glabrous internally; peduncular bracts 1 or 2, 0.5-2.5 cm long, brown, scarious, revolute or apiculate, inserted 2 cm from apex of peduncle. Staminate flowers 9-11 mm long, the pedicel 3-5 mm, inserted perpendicular to rachilla; sepals free, glabrous, coriaceous, 2 about 5 x 1.5 mm, one larger about 7 x 1.5 mm; petals valvate, free, glabrous, coriaceous, about 6.5 x 3 mm; stamens (12-)14-18 proximally, sometimes 10 stamens distally, about 2.5 mm long, the filaments columnar, the anthers sagittate at both ends; pistillode simple. Pistillate flowers sessile on proximal 4-11 cm of rachilla; sepals free, trapezoid, about 5 x 6 mm, imbricate to the right, apiculate with papillose hairs on superior rim; petals free, triangular, about 5 x 4 mm, imbricate to the right, apiculate with papillose hairs on lateral to basal margins; staminodial ring to 1.5 mm with 6 short teeth; pistil conical, 3-4 mm; stigma trifid, glabrous. Fruit ovoid to turbinate, with orange to yellowish floccose hairs or tomentose from base of stigmas to middle, 1.2-2 cm long, 1- 1.3 cm. in diam., perpendicular to rachilla, the stigmatic remnants erect with stigmas to 3 mm long, the persistent perianth longer than ½ of fruit; seed 1-2. (Mónica Moraes, Flora Neotropica, monograph 73, Allagoptera)/Palmweb.
The variable number of stamens in Allagoptera arenaria being 10-18 is the one of the main diagnostic characters used to include the descriptions of Cocos arenaria by Gomes (1812) and A. pumila by Nees (1821) under A. arenaria. In the original description, Gomes (1812) mentioned Rio de Janeiro as the only locality for Cocos arenaria, but no information was given for his illustration; nor was the collector and the specimen on which he based his description. It could not be found in herbaria in Portugal or Brazil. Probably he worked with cultivated material. Martius (1826) described Diplothemium maritimum and D. littorale as separate species, based on two phenological states of the species A. arenaria; the first name was based on plants with flowers and the second on plants with fruits. Wied-Neuwied (1821) announced that Martius was going to describe A. pumila in his work on Brazilian palms. Wied-Neuwied also referred to a collection brought by Martius from Brazil, but unfortunately no herbarium contains that material; the search was done at M, B, LE, and several Brazilian herbaria. (Mónica Moraes, Flora Neotropica, monograph 73, Allagoptera)/Palmweb.
Although this palm normally grows in sandy soil, it seems able to adapt to many types of soils, even heavy clay. It prefers ample amounts of water, but once established, it can be fairly drought resistant. This palm is somewhat cold hardy and can withstand freezes down to 25 F/-3.88 C. Colder temps can damage the plant severely, but it will often recover from brief freezes down to nearly 20 F/-6.66 C. In addition to being cold and drought tolerant, it is seemingly heat resistant as well. A.arenaria can thrive in the dry, hot, inland southern California deserts as well as the cold, salty beaches along the coast. It is also one of the most salt tolerant palms grown in cultivation. It survives full sun to fairly dense shade. Rarely does it brown tip, even if watered with poor quality city water. However, it is prone to bud damage if watered excessively by sprinklers from above (best to water this one with a drip system, if possible, or rain water/deionized water). The bud damage from such watering practices may not be as severe as what is typically seen in many other species, but will often result in bizarre leaves with the leaflets folding back on themselves (which can be unsightly). As a seedling, A. arenaria is an agonizingly slow-growing plant, at least when grown in a Mediterranean climate. But its growth will increase dramatically when placed in a greenhouse, or warm, humid climate. Once it reaches 15 gallon size, its growth rate in a Mediterranean climate would still be considered slow-growing, but would be faster than the painfully slow pace during its seedling stage. The seashore palm is one of the best palms for beach and coastal situations in subtropical and tropical settings. It requires moderate to full sunlight and is used as a beach screen, being very tolerant of extreme coastal and beach exposure, as well as salt spray. In its native environment, the seashore palm is highly tolerant of poor soils that have good drainage, thriving in soils that are thoroughly moist. Considered a slow grower when it is young, the seashore palm propagates by seeds and responds well to fertilizer and water.
The seashore palm is cultivated in humid tropical, subtropical and warm-temperate regions and planted in gardens and parks. It is one of the best palms for beach and coastal situations in subtropical and tropical settings and can be planted just above the high tide mark. If you needs a small low maintenance, but graceful looking palm, it doesn't get any better than Allagoptera arenaria It is also very 'user friendly' with soft, leathery leaves and has not sharp edges or spines. However it considered an agonizingly slow-growing plant when it is young, at least when grown in a Mediterranean climate. But its growth will increase dramatically when placed in a greenhouse, or warm, humid climate and responds well to fertilizer and water. Once established, it is virtually maintenance-free.
Soil: It is very adaptable to many kinds of well drained soils. It prefers sandy soils with little mineral or organic content, but may also grow on poor and rocky soils and on peaty and poorly drained sites.
Fertilization: Slow release fertilizer diet; including all micro nutrients and trace elements, applied during the growing season, or according to package directions, using a fertilizer specifically formulated for palms.
Water Requirements: It tolerates low levels of humidity and summer drought, though it prefers evenly moist but not consistently wet medium. When supplied with adequate moisture and fertilizer it is also fairly fast growing. This palm is very drought tolerant once established. It dislikes constantly soggy soils. This is one of the palms prone to get bud damage from overhead watering (drip much preferred) causing weird folded new leaves (leaflets bent back against themselves), particularly if not grown in full sun.
Light: Heliophilous (adapted for a high intensity of sunlight.) It prefers bright sunny locations, but it also does well in part shade with some direct sunlight. It will survive in rather heavy shade but "stretches" to lose its compact shape.
Aerosol salt tolerance: It is very tolerant of extreme coastal and beach exposure, as well as salt spray. This is one of the most salt tolerant palms! Wind resistance: It endures drying winds.
Hardiness: USDA Zones (9)-10-11. Mature and established palms tolerates winter frosts down to about −4°C for short periods. A number of gardeners are now successfully growing the seashore palm in USDA Zone 9. Seashore palms grown in Zone 9 may require protection during cold spells. Roots: Usually not a problem
Maintenance: For the healthiest and most attractive plant, keep the palm pruned. As the old fronds die, these should be trimmed off and the leaf bases allowed to dry out, but do not prune if the frond still has some green colour. Palms recycle nutrients from dead or dying fronds and use them for healthier fronds.
Propagation: In the nursery it may be propagated by seed. Seeds will germinate in 2 to 6 month. Seedling growth and early development are slow. The optimal germination conditions for seashore palm seeds include prolonged exposure to high temperatures from 32-38º C and high humidity. Keep the seed moist at all times. Establishment requires not less than 2 to 6 years, but due to its slow growth rate, get one as large as possible when buying this species or you will be looking at a few green blades of grass for many years (even a decade) maybe. It can also be propagated through underground stools (rhizomes). A single old individual could have dozens of palms dominating large areas.
Comments and Curiosities
This is a tillering palm, it exhibits saxophone style root growth (it has a heel), keep top third of heel above soil elevation!
Etymology: The genus name from the Ancient Greek words αλλαγή (allage), meaning change, and πτερόν (pteron), meaning wing, and refers to the swirled, changing pattern of the feathery leaves. The specific epithet (species name) arenaria; from the Latin, for "sandy" or growing in sandy sites.
Historic: Based on fossil records, it is also regarded as the most ancient of palms, a predecessor to all others.
Freeze Damage: Allagoptera arenaria in a 5 g. A dry 24 f - No Damage.
"The seashore palm grows easily inland as well! I planted a 5 gallon on a hill in a nasty decomposing granite soil about ten years ago and it walked right through our Riverside CA extremes of 19 degrees F. in winter 2007 & 105 degrees F. on several occasions in the summer. Queen palms planted in the same area grow very poorly, but this little palm thrived. About three years ago I decided to try to remove it from the distant hill area to put it closer to the house where it could be seen and admired more often. Knowing this move was risky, we dug it up, planted it near the pool & waited for signs of transplant shock and stress only to be pleasantly surprised by an absolute absence of either. This is that rare find that gives us inlanders a chance for a nice tropical look in a palm that grows as easily as any I have ever found. It is a slow grower but worth the wait!" (Andy)
"This is a very short, stemless palm original from the SE Brazil. It lives directly on sand, specially on isolated beaches (where human influence wasn´t enough to destroy everything yet) or "restinga" biomes. So it is ideal for really warm places near the sea where there are sandy and salty soils available, and fairly cold hardy. It has arched pinate leaves, spineless, reaching up to 50 cm tall, normally (might get bigger leaves, though). The inflorescence comes from the middle, with cream or pale yellow flower clusters. These flowers usually attract bees and beetles. Fruits are small, orange, and get dry soon. Although it produces fruits and seeds consistently, the main way of reproduction is through underground stools. A single individual could have dozens of palms dominating large areas." (Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro)
Uses: They are used in landscaping, in many parts of the world. Plant Allagoptera arenaria in front of clumps of larger palms, or even underneath large palms. They look good massed in clumps in mixed borders, or as framing hedges. They are also excellent in containers. And thanks to their drought resistance and durability to heat they can thrive in harsh urban conditions. They can be used for watershed protection, erosion control and as a beach screen. The seashore palm is cultivated extensively in South America for the edible fruits which are eaten fresh or made into a drink or jam. Traditional uses: The leaves are used to make baskets and other woven objects. Fruits edible; leaves used for binding; ornamental plant; potential use for paper manufacturing.
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- Great info!
- THE SAXOPHONE STYLE ROOT GROWTH (HEEL)
Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.
Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.
Special thanks to Palmweb.org, 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).
Mónica Moraes. Flora Neotropica, monograph 73, Allagoptera. The New York Botanical Garden.
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.