| Basselinia (bas-seh-lin-EE-ah) |
Mont Panié, New Caledonia.
Habitat and DistributionBasselinia moorei is only known from the upper slopes of Mont Panié, above 900 m elevation on the eastern side,
Solitary, monoecious, unarmed, pleonanthic palm. Stem 6-10 m tall, 10- 15 cm in diam. breast high, brown to grey, with slightly to moderately prominent leaf scars. Leaves 8-10 per crown, arcuately spreading, regularly pinnate. Leaf sheath caducous, forming a loose to rather prominent, somewhat swollen crownshaft, covered abaxially with a dense and short brown or grey tomentum, 0.5-0.7 m long; petiole concave adaxially, prominently winged by sheath extensions, 15-20 cm long; rachis slightly to strongly recurved, 1.6-1.9 m long; pinnae 25-35 on each side, regularly arranged, moderately stiff, directed forward and upward, light green; medifixed or longifixed ramenta scarce, restricted to the base of nerves abaxially; basal pinnae 38-40 x 2 cm, median pinnae 64-66 x 4 cm wide, apical pinnae about 40-42 x 2 cm. Inflorescences 1-3 simultaneously, infrafoliar, to 50 cm long and 60 cm wide; stiffly spreading, divaricate, covered with a velutinous, brownish-grey, hairy-scaly indument; peduncle 10-12 cm long, flattened; prophyll incompletely encircling peduncle at insertion, peduncular bract rostrate; rachis about 10 cm long, with 5-10 first-order branches; rachillae 20-36 cm long. Staminate flowers 5-6 mm long; 4.5-5 mm in diam. at late bud; sepals 3.5-3.8 mm long, 2.5 mm wide, ovate-oblong, slightly acute towards the apex, distinct, imbricate, strongly cucullate at early bud stage; petals 5 mm long, 3 mm wide, elliptic, glabrous, connate up to mid-height, valvate at the apex; stamens 6-7, 3.5-4 mm long, filaments 2 mm long, 1 mm in diam., connate at the base for 2 mm, cylindrical, apically connecting to the anther through a 1 mm long, laminar articulation; anthers 2 mm long, 1 mm wide, dorsifixed, bifid at the base and apex, latrorse; pistillode 2.5-3 mm long, 2 mm in diam. at mid-height, ovoid, with no stigmatic branches differentiated. Pistillate flowers 4-5 mm long, 4 mm in diam. in late bud, borne throughout the rachillae, supported with a short stalk; sepals 3.8-4 mm long, 3.5-3.8 mm wide, circular-oblong, only shortly connate at the base, distinct, imbricate; petals 3.8-4 mm long, 3.6-3.8 mm wide, distinct, imbricate but open at the apex; staminodes 3-6 at one side of the gynoecium, shortly connate at the base, 1.2 long, 1 mm wide at the base, acute at the apex; tooth-like; gynoecium syncarpous, 3.5-3.8 mm long, 3.5 mm in diam., globose, 3-locular ; stigmas 3, poorly differentiated, recurved, shortly papillate on the ventral side. Fruit globose, 13 mm in diam., bright red at maturity, with lateral stigmatic remains. (Basselinia moorei, Pintaud & F.W. Stauffer 2011). Editing by edric.
Notes. – This species has been overlooked and confused with the co-occurring Basselinia velutina. However, there is very limited overlap of the two species on Mont Panié, since B. moorei replaces B. velutina above 900 m elevation. The two species are nevertheless conspicuously different in the abundance and disposition of ramenta on the abaxial side of pinnae, in inflorescence architecture and fruit color, among other characters. Several morphological features shared by B. moorei and B. sordida, including the peculiar, flattened articulation that connects the filament to the anther, the pedicellate pistillate flower, and stigmas with short papillae, rather suggests a sister relationship of these two species, that would be edaphic vicariants within the New Caledonian cloud forests. (Basselinia moorei, Pintaud & F.W. Stauffer 2011).
In cultivation it would be best suited to even, warm temperate climates.
Comments and Curiosities
This sensational palm has lead a strangely secret life, considering that it grows at high altitude in northeastern New Caledonia in a place that has been visited by many botanists and plant enthusiasts and has still managed to escape recognition, perhaps on account of being confused with Basselinia velutina, which is easily done when not seen in fruit. It has only been scientifically described in 2011 as a new species honoring Harold Moore and his enormous contributions to the taxonomy of New Caledonia palms. It is found only in cloud forests on the upper slopes of Mont Panié, above 900 m on the eastern side, and above 1400 m on the western side, and reaches close to the summit at just above 1600 m. It grows a slender trunk which holds a thick, reddish brown crownshaft that is not completely closed and has large lobes, reminiscent of Burretiokentia rather than Basselinia. The round fruits are bright orange red at maturity as opposed to other Basselinia fruits which mature to black. (rarepalmseeds.com)
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- New Caledonia photos in habitat.
- The Whole Story
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).
A revision of the large-flowered group of Basselinia Vieill. sect. Taloua H. E. Moore & Uhl (Arecaceae) Page – 150.
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.