| Chamberonya |
New Caledonia. Photo by Bryan.
Habitat and DistributionC. macrocarpa is endemic to the mid-elevations of the New Caledonian rain forest
Monocaule (French for single trunk, or solitary) palm, up to twenty meters in height, with a trunk 15 to over 25 cm. in diameter, whitish, at the base sometimes adventitious roots or a plateau, rather like the Cyphokentia (Troulala). Leaves the number rising from June to October or spreading; new leaves, bright red. Leaf sheath enveloping, forming crownshaft, sheath over a meter long, green or yellowish green or mottled with yellowish spots. Phenology (flower), 3-5 inflorescence, inflorescence infrafoliar, spread before and during flowering, and falling when the fruit is formed, fruit ellipsoid 3 x 5 cm., red when ripe. Any description of this palm would have to begin with its propensity to exhibit a brightly colored red new leaf. When any new palm enthusiast first sees this newly opening red leaf, it instantly becomes one of the select "must have" palms. While a good majority of these palms throw the red leaf, some do not, including most very young plants. Similar to many other New Caledonia palms, this only carries 6-10 fronds at a time. Yet with the very wide leaflets and the graceful curve of the rachis, the overall outline is most pleasing and an excellent candidate for a solitary or group statement. It is morphologically diverse with at least 4 variations considered and treated as different species by hobbyists. (from the french) Editing by edric.
- The "green form," with a dark solid green crownshaft, are the most common of the forms.
- The "yellow form," or C.hookeri, with a yellow crownshaft and the color extending up into the petioles. Observations have been consistent that this form has the most vivid and highest percentage of red leafs. This form is sometimes referred to as the "blond flamethrower".
- The "watermelon form," with the yellow and green streaked appearence of some watermelons in its crownshaft. It has been discussed that this may be the result of cross pollination between the green and yellow forms.
- C. houailou, which is distinguished by the entire unsegmented leaves it carries as a juvenile, and the exaggerated recurve to the fronds as an adult. It appears to almost never have the new red leaf characteristic of the other forms.
There is supposedly another exceptionally robust variety with a crownshaft covered in white tomentum.
This palm has become very popular and successful in warm temperate locations, belying its existence as a warm rain forest palm. As a fast grower in the tropics, it still maintains a good growth rate in warmer temperate locations. Intolerant of hot dry conditions, it is well suited to conditons such as those in coastal Southern California if given the prerequisite rich well draining soil.
In Southern California, these palms do best with some shade; the further inland from the sea (or ocean influence) they more shade they like. However, they will also take full sun in areas along the coast, or with heavy coastal influence (e.g., Whittier, Camarillo, Beverly Hills, Santa Ana, La Mesa) if they're watered frequently. In full sun, they should be watered every two or three days at half or one-third the water to be given in a week.
These palms are not bothered much by pests, though scale and whitefly can be a problem. Most of the time, ladybugs and other weapons in Mother Nature's arsenal will keep bad bugs at bay.
Comments and Curiosities
As the national tree of New Caledonia, it becomes obvious why, when one is on approach to that country's airport. This gorgeous tall emergent species can be seen poking its head above the forest, and becomes especially visible while sporting its trademark new leaf. After observing many cultivated Chambeyronia macrocarpa in private and public gardens, one begins to notice how variable this species is. Leaflet width varies greatly, as does the sheen, from glossy to matte finish, as well as different colorations on the crownshaft and petioles.
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- New Caledonia photos in habitat.
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).
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.