Balaka seemannii

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Balaka (bah-LAHK-ah)
seemannii (see-MAHN-nee)
Scientific Classification
Genus: Balaka (bah-LAHK-ah)
seemannii (see-MAHN-nee)
Ptychosperma seemannii, Balaka gracilis, Balaka cuneata.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Seemann's Palm, Spear Palm, Balaka Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Balaka seemannii is endemic to Fiji. Balaka seemannii, a delicate understory palm.
On Taveuni Island, Fiji. Photo by Jim Valentine.
They are widely distributed throughout rainforest areas in Vanua Levu and Taveuni Islands, with high rainfall, from 140 meters and up in elevation.


Found up to 7 meters high, but many maturing at around 2 meters height. It has a slender trunk rarely seen more than 3-4 cm thick and attractive colorations between grey to brown with the crownshaft slightly darker. It holds only 6-7 fronds of about 1.5 meters or less in length. Fruits are red, ellipsoid and slightly pointed when ripe. Editing by edric.


This palm prefers filtered light. It prefers warm and protected areas with plenty of water, and is very suitable for cultivation in the humid tropics. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a Minimum.

Comments and Curiosities

"Attractive tall, very skinny palm with arching leaves and fish-tail shaped leaflets. This is the most cold hardy of the Balakas actually able to survive in some protected areas of southern California. Like all Balakas, native of Fiji or nearby islands." (Geoff Stein).

Uses: used for making spears, and walking sticks.

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

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