Heterospathe phillipsii

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phillipsii (fill-eep'-see)
Hete phil 100319c.JPG
Hawaii. Photo by BGL.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Heterospathe
phillipsii (fill-eep'-see)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Fiji: Niu Niu, Navua Palm

Habitat and Distribution

Fiji. The Navua palm is known only from three small, highly restricted populations
Hawaii. Photo by BGL.
in the forests of southern Viti Levu. One near Nakavu, inland from Navua, the site of the Natural Forest Management Project, the second on the immediate western side of the Navua River and the third inland from Deuba. It has also been reported from the Nukurua area in Tailevu, but this population has not been confirmed and the area is now under mahogany plantation.

Heterospathe phillipsii occurs as a semi-emergent element in dense evergreen lowland rainforest, on steep well-drained slopes usually above water courses at elevations of 80-300 m. Soils are deeply weathered clays with a low natural fertility. Known from one locality on Viti Levu, 8 km north of Navua in forest that has been selectively logged. This same palm species was originally reported (in 1976) from a separate disjunct area near Naimasimasi Village, Province of Tailevu, some 60 km NE of the extant population. A tree from this disjunct population is presently growing in the garden of Mr R.H. Phillips (Zona 642). The palms in this area could have been destroyed when the area was clear-felled for planting Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). A search in 1994 found no trace of the Heterospathe palms (R.H. Phillips, personal communication). (D.Fuller & Dowe. Principes 41: 66 1997)


This is a solitary and generally slender palm that grows up to 15 m in height. The trunk may become quite stout, to 20 cm in diameter but is usually less than 15 cm, and develops a pronounced bulbous base. The fronds are light, feathery and graceful with numerous leaflets; they reach 5 m in length and arch in a curve to below the horizontal and lack a crown shaft. Dead fronds, or frond bases, may persist on the trunk giving it a tattered appearance. When emergent the crown becomes much more compact with 10-12 fronds. The inflorescence is large and wispy, branched to two orders, with small dispersed fruit (a little over 10 mm long) which are bright crimson when mature. (naturefiji.org), Editing by edric.


Tropical in its requirements.

Comments and Curiosities

External Links


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).

Dowe, J.L. ENl P. Cesalron. 1996. A taxonomic account of Arecaceae in Vanuatu, with descriptions of three new species. Australian Systematic Botany 9: l-60.

D.Fuller & Dowe. Principes 41: 66 1997.

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

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