Lemurophoenix halleuxii

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Lemurophoenix
(leh-moor-oh-FEE-niks)
halleuxii (hahl-LOOKS-ee)
P6240021PT.jpg
Scientific Classification
Genus: Lemurophoenix
(leh-moor-oh-FEE-niks)
Species:
halleuxii (hahl-LOOKS-ee)
Synonyms
None set.
Native Continent
Africa
Africa.gif
Morphology
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Culture
Survivability index
Common names
None.

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Madagascar. Lemurophoenix halleuxii occurs in a steep-sided valley, below the long
Tampolo - Masoala - Madagascar (2016) - East Coast of Madagascar. Photo by "Olivier Reilhes".
ridge-top leading eastwards, from the village of Sahavary. The valley is at about 350-450 m above sea level. There is a great abundance of different palms in the forest here, yet there is little peculiar about the habitat. Furthermore, Lemurophoenix does not occur in similar valleys nearby. As one drops down from the crest of the ridge, suddenly one becomes aware of immense palms in the forest canopy in the valley bottom, the huge greyish-pink crownshafts and vast bunches of fruit standing out amidst the surrounding green. There are about 30 mature individuals and about 20 juveniles in various stages of development. Beneath the mature trees lie thick carpets of bare endocarps, either newly fallen or rotting. Seedlings are distinctive but very scarce. It appears that there is little effective dispersal and very limited regeneration and it is difficult to imagine which extant Malagasy animal might be capable of dispersing the rather large diaspore. It is not known to occur anywhere else in the vicinity of Maroantsetra or on the Masoala Peninsula.

The horticultural potential of this palm could be very great indeed. It has the stature of the Caribbean royal palm, Roystonea oleracea, but has the added attraction of the wonderfully pink-tinged grey crownshaft. As a specimen tree for tropical gardens or for avenues it would be spectacular indeed, if it is amenable to cultivation. Unlike the easily cultivated Malagasy palms Chrysalidocarpus lutescens, C. madagascariensis, Bismarckia nobilis and Neodypsis decaryi, Lemurophoenix occurs in one of the warmest and wettest parts of the island so it may be less tolerant than these others, now so widespread in cultivation. Lemurophoenix halleuxii, as "Red-Lemur Palm", is now well known to the more avid palm collectors throughout the world and every year large quantities of ripe seed from the only known population are harvested and exported. The removal of seed, if it continues at this rate, will ultimately affect the regeneration of the palm and endanger its survival. (J. Dransfield. 1991)/Palmweb.

Description

An immense palm. Trunk to 20 m tall, at base about 1 m in diam., higher up about 50 cm in diam., pale brown, leaf scars about 10 cm apart. Leaf to 4.5 m long; crownshaft about 1.5 m long, about 50 cm in diam., the leaf-sheath greyish pink when newly exposed, bearing scattered dark brown peltate scales and abundant white wax; petiole to 25 cm long, about 10 cm wide and 5 cm thick at the base; leaflets very regular, about 60 on each side of the rachis, stiff, rich dark green, about 6 cm distant, linear-lanceolate, the proximal about 65 x 2 cm, in mid leaf about 95 x 6 cm, decreasing abruptly in size to 17 x 0.7 cm near the tip; rachis when young bright crimson, young blade flushed red. Inflorescence very robust, about 2 m long; peduncle c. 50 cm long, grossly swollen and winged to about 35 cm wide at the base, decreasing to 10 x 4.5 cm near the insertion of the first branch, the surface densely covered with rough brown scales; prophyll and peduncular bract abaxially bright crimson, cream-coloured within; prophyll to 90 cm, splitting along one side, inserted about 15 cm above the base of the peduncle; peduncular bract to 120 cm long, inserted about 10 cm above the prophyll insertion; first-order branches about 12-15, the basal devoid of branches in the basal 20-25 cm, to 4-5 cm thick; rachillae about 110, cream-coloured at anthesis, becoming green, to 40 cm long, about 8-9 mm. in diam., somewhat swollen, with flowers partially embedded in shallow pits about 6-10 mm apart, rachilla surface minutely papillose and scaly; rachilla bracts about 2 x 8 mm, fleshy. Staminate flower-bud pale greenish brown, about 8 x 5 mm, at anthesis the flower with a spread of about 14 mm; sepals connate in the basal 0-8 mm, about 3.5 x 6 mm, about 2 mm thick at the keel, the margin minutely ciliate, otherwise glabrous; petals about 7 X 3 mm, pale brown, later the floral receptacle carrying the petal bases about 4 mm above the calyx, the petals becoming reflexed by a pulvinus to 1.5 mm thick at the petal bases; stamens 52-59, borne on the receptacle about 4-5 mm wide, filaments 2-4 x 0.1 mm, anthers about 2 x 0.5 mm; pistillode, about 1.5 x 0.2 mm, hidden among the filament bases. Pistillate flower in immature bud, about 4-5 mm in diam.; sepals about 3.5 x 4.5 mm in diam.; petals about 3.5 mm long; staminodes 10-12, 0.4 x 0-2 mm; gynoecium about 2.5 X 1.5 mm. Fruit chestnut brown, globose, at maturity about 50 mm in diam., the epicarp cracked into corky warts less than 1 mm high and 2.5 mm across; mesocarp about 8 mm thick, whitish; endocarp spherical, about 33 mm in diam., 1 mm thick, deep brown, with a basal heart-shaped pale brown button about 11 x 11 x 7 mm. Eophyll flushed reddish-brown when newly emerged. (J. Dransfield. 1991)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Culture

As yet it has proven to be difficult to impossible outside of the sub-tropics. Doing well in Hawaii, it has yet to be successfully grown outside in Southern California. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a+

Comments and Curiosities

This is a monotypic genus.

Fabulous, large rainforest palm from Madagascar with a large, smooth, greyish-pink crownshaft, Lemurophoenix is very rare and occurs only in a single valley in the north of the island. Beentje and Dransfield in their "Palms of Madagascar" consider it "probably the grandest palm of the whole island." Seeds are somewhat erratic to germinate but young plants grow quickly under humid, warm, subtropical or tropical conditions. (RPS.com)


External Links

References

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).

Dransfield, J.1991. Lemurophoenix (Palmae: Arecoideae), a new genus from Madagascar. Kew Bulletin, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 61-68.


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

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