Deckenia nobilis

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Deckenia (deh-keh-NEE-ah)
nobilis (noh-BILL-iss)
Vallée de Mai, Island of Praslin, Seychelles. Photo by Philippe.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Deckenia (deh-keh-NEE-ah)
nobilis (noh-BILL-iss)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Millionaire's Salad

Habitat and Distribution

Deckenia nobilis is endemic to the Seychelles Islands. Found intermittently in lowland forests, at elevations up to 600 meters.

Hawaii, photo by Sadek Tazi.


Growing to a height of nearly 40 meters, spread to 4.6 meters. Leaves are dark green, pinnate, and covered in black spines on the underside, however they form a very attractive crown. Only the young one have spines on the trunk, and the leaves, as they mature, the only spines remaining appear on the flower bract, and there is even a 98% spineless, hairless cultivar. It also has a very spiny seed pod, the seeds are about the size of a sunflower kernel. Inflorescence a whitish yellow, fruit black when ripe. Editing by edric.


Hardiness: USDA zone: 10b. Slow growing. Partial shade when young, full sun when mature. This palm is rather cold sensitive (as are all the Seychelles palms), and also requires very good drainage. Water requirements: Moist Soil. PH requirements: Acidic, neutral, slightly alkaline. Soil type: Sand, clay, or loam.

Comments and Curiosities

This is a monotypic genus.

It is in decline, due to unregulated or illegal over-harvesting of the edible palm hearts, but certain stands growing on rocky crags, and outcrops are very difficult for humans to reach, which tentatively affords them natural protection. Also, some new growth is attributable to tree nurseries on the Seychelles, which raise D. nobilis seedlings and distribute them to the local populace for planting.

The name 'Millionaire's Salad' is given because, once the palm hearts are harvested, the entire tree will die.

Native to the Seychelles Islands, where it grows on steep slopes and ridges, sometimes to the exclusion of any other vegetation. It grows a very tall, slender, smooth trunk that can reach well over 30 m (115 ft.) in height. The whitish crownshaft carries a crown of most graceful, pinnate fronds. While seedlings and juveniles are formidably armed with yellowish spines, mature plants lose their nasty nature except for a single feature in the inflorescence: The flower stalk is hidden inside a curious, most fiercely armed bract that falls away to release the long drooping flowering branches when they are fully developed. Deckenia is essentially a palm for humid, tropical climates, but young plants also make very dainty looking and quick growing house plants. (RPS. com)

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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