| Livistona (liv-iss-TOH-nah) |
Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park, Australia. Photo by Volker Wurst
Habitat and DistributionNorthern Territory, Queensland, Australia. Northern Territory. Endemic to the Finke R. system in the Macdonnell Ranges. The entire range of this palm tree falls within Finke Gorge National Park.
Functionally dioecious palm. Trunk to 30 m tall, 30-40 cm in diam. breast high, leaf scars stepped, raised, internodes broad, grey, petiole stubs persistent only in the basal 1 m or so. Leaves 30-50 in a globose crown; petiole erect to arching, 150-250 cm long, 20-45 mm wide, adaxially ridged, margins with small, single, curved, black spines in the proximal portion, smooth distally; leafbase fibres moderately prominent, coarse, persistent; lamina costapalmate, regularly segmented, circular in outline, 100-220 cm in diam, rigidly coriaceous, adaxially grey green, glossy, abaxially lighter grey green, waxy pruinose; lamina divided for 45-55% of its length, with 50-86 segments, depth of apical cleft 45-65% of the segment length, apical lobes attenuate, pendulous, proximal margins of outer segments with small spines; parallel veins 7-9 each side of the midrib; transverse veins thinner than parallel veins. Inflorescences unbranched at the base, not sexually dimorphic, 125- 250 cm long, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, branched to 4 orders; partial inflorescences 10-14; peduncular bract 1, loosely tubular with dense white-grey scales; rachis bracts loosely tubular with dense white scales; rachillae 3-8 cm long, pliable to flexuose, glabrous. Flowers in clusters of 3-6, campanulate, 1.0-1.8 mm long, greenish cream to yellow; sepals ovate, 0.8-1 mm long, membranous, bluntly acute; petals broadly oblong, 1.2-1.5 mm long, acute; stamens about 1.2 mm long. Fruit globose, 12-18 mm diam., semi-glossy black; epicarp with scattered lenticellular pores; suture line extends for about ¾ the length of the fruit, marked with lip-like structures; mesocarp fibrous; endocarp thin, crustaceous. Seed globose, 8-12 mm wide. Eophyll 3-ribbed. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.
The name Livistona mariae was first used by Mueller (1874b) in notes under L. leichhardtii, with which he considered that it may be conspecific. Previously, Mueller (1874b) had mentioned it only as the palm from the "Glen of Palms" collected by Gilles. These instances had no descriptions and in the former were considered as a provisional name only. A complete description in Mueller (1878) provided validation of the name. He named it in honour of the "... Grandi-principi Mariae, Ducissae Edinensi, cultus hortorum nobilioris tam in Russia quam nunc in Brittania patronae imperiali...". However, Mueller's description included elements ofanother species ("... Mill-stream fluminis Fortescue-River satis numerosa, F. Gregory, J. Forrest..."), later described as L. alfredii from Western Australia (Mueller, 1892). Subsequently, the identities of L. mariae and L. alfredii remained unclear to some botanists, with Gardner (1923) referring to the Millstream Palm (i.e. L. alfredii), as L. mariae and applying L. alfredii to yet another taxon in the Kimberleys. However, other taxonomists distinguished the two taxa (Drude, 1893; Beccari, 1931). The closeness of L. mariae to L. rigida has been recognised by some authors. Johnson (1981) wrote of the relationship of L. rigida:" very closely related to the Fan-Leaved Palm (L. mariae) of central Australia and may even be conspecific". Rodd (1998) resolved this by placing L. rigida as a subspecies of L. mariae, but noting his action as a temporary measure pending a thorough investigation. Considering the above, and while acknowledging that L. mariae and L. rigida are closely related, I have reinstated the latter to specific status. The leaves of L. rigida are comparatively smaller, the folding into a ?v? along the axis of the costa is considerably more pronounced and the segment apices are most often rigid rather than semi-pendulous. The fruit are also comparatively smaller. Although occasionally L. mariae produces smaller than average fruits and L. rigida larger than average fruits. Livistona mariae is a large canopy palm to 30 m tall; leaves are large and regularly segmented; segment apices are pendulous, and with a bifurcate cleft to 65% of the segment length; the inflorescence is unbranched, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, and with up to 14 partial inflorescences; bracts are loosely tubular and covered with dense white-grey scales; flowers are greenish cream to yellow; fruit are globose to 18 mm in diam., and semi-glossy black at maturity. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb.
Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b
Comments and Curiosities
This is a dioecious genus.
Phenology: Flowers Jul-Dec; fruits Nov-Feb.
"Though once mature this palm looks pretty much like most other Australian Livistonas, with the naked trunks, drooping leaflet tips and full crowns of deeply split fan leaves, as a juvenile, this palm has a good deal of color unique to this palm. Seedlings in full sun are nearly red, or at least maroon. This color diminishes from the leaves first, then the petioles before the plant forms a trunk. It is a relatively fast grower, and pretty hardy here in So Cal. There are several 'varieties' of this species, the most well known being Livistona 'rigida' (some consider that a separate species, and some do not) but I personally can't tell them apart. Recent research (2005) has elevated the 'varieties' to species status- so Livistona rigida and occidentalis are now separate species." (Geoff Stein)
"New genetic analyses find that Livistona mariae arrived only 15,000 years ago. The red cabbage palm's closest relative, the Mataranka palm Livistonia rigida, grows in two areas 800 to 1000 kilometers to the north on either side of the Gulf of Carpentaria—too far away, it would seem, for these species to be anything but distant relations. However, a 2010 study led by Australian biologists, including Bowman, and colleagues at Kyoto University in Japan found that L. mariae was genetically identical to L. rigida."
The young plants of this lovely palm from Central Australia have brilliant red leaves when grown in full sun. Tough and adaptable, it is easily grown from seed and tolerates drought and moderate frosts. (RPS.com)
Palms, Palm Valley, MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory, Australia. Set in the Finke Gorge National Park, it is an oasis of lush vegetation including Livistona Mariae Palms, reputed to be thousands of years old. The Valley was discovered by Ernest Giles in 1872 during his explorations of The Centre. The Finke Gorge National Park lies within the James and Krichauff Ranges, mostly along the Finke River. July 2005. Copyright © Joe Mortelliti Photography.
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- Click on Arecaceae, for list of photos
- Revision of Livistona (Arecaceae) in Australia, By Dr. A.N. Rodd
- Australian Palms, By John Leslie Dowe
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., A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae). A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae).
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.