| Livistona (liv-iss-TOH-nah) |
Photo by Jonathan Cruickshank
Habitat and DistributionAustralia, endemic. Queensland. From Magnetic Is. near Townsville, south to Tewantin and Rainbow Beach.
Livistona decipiens grows along the edges of forests, in the protection of gullies and in swamps close to the ocean.
"Leaflets on the fronds are very thin and ribbon-like giving this palm a unique, almost weeping appearance. Old petioles eventually fall exposing attractive rings remaining from the old petiole bases."
Functionally dioecious palm. Trunk to 18 m tall, 25-30 cm. in diam. breast high, leaf scars narrow, internodes broad to 30 cm. wide, smooth, brown in newly exposed parts, grey with age, with shallow vertical fissures, petiole stubs frequently retained at the base of the trunk. Leaves 30-60 in a ± globose crown; petiole 150-280 cm. long, 18-24 mm. wide, adaxially flat or slightly concave, green throughout, margins with single curved black spines to 20 mm. long in the proximal portion; leaf-base fibres moderately prominent, coarse, disintegrating; lamina costapalmate, regularly segmented, ± circular in outline, 120-185 cm. long, coriaceous, adaxially bright green, abaxially lighter green, segments extended along the costa; lamina divided for 82- 88% of its length, with 70-84 segments, depth of apical cleft 44-54% of the segment length, apical lobes pendulous; parallel veins 6-7 each side of midrib; transverse veins thinner than parallel veins. Inflorescences unbranched at the base, not sexually dimorphic, 100-350 cm. long, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, branched to 4 orders; 8-13 partial inflorescences; longest partial inflorescence to 110 cm., each with a single rachis bract; prophyll 37 cm. long, 11-16 cm. wide, woody; peduncular bract(s) lacking; rachis bracts glabrous to sparsely papillate; primary rachis bract loosely sheathing, apically fibrous-lacerate, bracts subtending partial inflorescence branches basally tubular, becoming winged distally, apex pointed; in the most distal partial inflorescence there are 2 vestigial bracts at the base; peduncle more or less terete, 6 cm. wide at the base, glabrous; rachillae 5-20 mm. long, papillose. Flowers solitary or in clusters of 2-6, funnel-shaped, 1.5-2 mm. long, yellow; sepals ovate-triangular, about 1.3 mm. long, membranous, obtuse; petals broadly ovate, 1.5-1.8 mm. long, fleshy, obtuse; stamens about 1.5 mm. long. Fruit globose, 12-18 mm. in diam., shiny black; epicarp with scattered lenticellular pores; suture line extends about ½ length of fruit; mesocarp 1-3 mm. thick, spongy, moist, fibres aggregated toward the endocarp; endocarp thin, brittle; pedicel to 2 mm. long; Seed globose, about 10 mm. wide; intrusion ½-¾ across endosperm. Eophyll 5-ribbed. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.
The name Corypha decora was first used by Bull (1887), for plants introduced into horticulture from his nursery at Chelsea, and subsequently discussed by Watson (1889), in a paper on the cool cultivation of tropical and subtropical plants. Bull's (1887, p.10) description was: "Corypha decora: An elegant and ornamental species introduced from Queensland. It early develops characterized leaves, which are fan-shaped in outline and divided almost to the petiole into linear lanceolate segments each about half-an-inch in breadth. The petioles are sparsely furnished with small hooked prickles. This species will undoubtedly be found one of the most useful of greenhouse palms". Beccari (1910) was apparently unaware of the use of the name Corypha decora when he named Livistona decipiens from the collection, Robertson-Proschowsky s.n. taken from a cultivated plant at Nice, France, and named for the deception that it had caused as to its true identity: "... il nome di L. decipiens, per gli errori di cui è stata causa...". In cultivation in the Riviera during the mid to late 1800s it had incorrectly been referred to by local horticulturists as "Copernicia cerifera", and it was with the intention of clarifying the species' identity that Beccari provided the description and established the name. Although unaware of its origin, but suggesting that it came from eastern tropical Australia, Beccari (1931) related it to other Australian species, primarily L. australis. Despite it being well known and widely cultivated throughout the world, its origin continued to remain speculative until relatively recent times. For example, Bailey (1976) noted (with reference to the name L. decipiens): ?? described from cult., supposedly Australian?.?. The first unequivocal application of the name to natural populations was by Johnson (1981) who recorded distribution from Miriamvale to Townsville, Queensland. Through the lack of understanding of the true identity of L. inermis, and the incorporation of misapplied specimens into descriptions, L. decora was inadvertently identified as that species. Both Wendland and Drude (1875) and Bentham (1878) cited the specimen Thozet s.n., from Moore's Ck near Rockhampton, central Queensland, now known to be of L. decora in their accounts of L. inermis and L. australis respectively. Many specimens in both the wild and in cultivation with a deeply segmented leaf were subsequently identified as L. inermis sensu H.Wendl. (Hill, 1873, 1875). It is highly probable that L. inermis R.Br. was never in cultivation in Europe as it is an exceedingly difficult plant to propagate and maintain while L. decora is exceptionally easy to germinate, and one of the fastest growing species of Livistona. Beccari (1921) described a variety, L. decipiens var. polyantha, from plants cultivated in Bogor Botanic Gardens based on Beccari s.n., but this is attributable to L. decora. Livistona decora is most closely related to L. australis, but is readily distinguished by the deeply segmented leaves and pendulous segment apices. The range of these species overlaps in the Fraser Is./Rainbow Beach area of southeastern Queensland, and it may be that hybridisation has occurred as some individuals in that area are difficult to assign to either species. Livistona decora is a large canopy palm to 18 m tall; leaves are large and regularly segmented; segment apices are pendulous, and with a bifurcate cleft to 54% of the segment length; the inflorescence is unbranched, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, and with up to 13 partial inflorescences; bracts are loosely sheathing; flowers are yellow; fruit are globose to 18 mm in diam., and shiny black at maturity. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb.
Full Sun. Soil: Tolerates wide range of soils; prefers good drainage, Prefers moderate water; tolerates moderate drought after establishment, Cold Tolerance: Zones 9a.
This palm prefers freely draining soil. It handles full sun even when young. It's drought tolerant, but will look better and grow faster if adequate water can be provided.
Soil Type: Clay, Loam or Sand. Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Slightly Alkaline. Seaside Tolerance: Good in Mild Zone. Height: 35 feet, Growth Rate: 24 Inches per Season, Longevity: 50 to 150 years, Leaves: Palmate Medium Green, Evergreen. Flowers: Hasseparate. Fruit: Drupe, Pest & Disease: Resistant to Texas Root Rot. Susceptible to Pigeons. Litter Issue: Dry Fruit. (calpoly.edu)
Ribbon fan palm happily adapts to many types of soil except those that are wet and soggy. Light: Will thrive in part shade to bright sunny exposures. Moisture: Drought tolerant but young palms will need watering until established. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9. I have had one of these palms growing in my Zone 8B garden for the past 8 years. Even though it is still very small it seems to be able to handle temperatures to about 20°F (-6.7°C) with no problem. In January 1999 the temperature fell to 16°F (-8.9°C) (one night, the leaves were not burned but fungus attacked and rotted out the bud. When this happened a few years ago I was able to save the plant with applications of fungicide and pampering.
Propagation: By seed. Plant seeds 1/4 in (0.6 cm) deep and keep moist, they will germinate in 4 to 10 weeks. Attractive and tough, graceful and durable, consider adding this drought tolerant palm to your warm area landscape. Those gardening in colder zones should consider enjoying this palm as a container plant - it's easy to grow indoors if you have a bright area for it to share. You can obtain palms in Florida and other warm areas from nurseries specializing in palms. There are also several mail order nurseries that will ship young specimens to you. (Jack Scheper)
Comments and Curiosities
Etymology: Livistona is the Latin for "Livingston," the Scottish city where in 1670 Baron Patrick Murray, a gardener and nobleman, helped found the Edinburgh Botanic Garden with his collection of plants. The common name of this palm comes from the physiological characteristics of its leaves, which split into many segments or lobes from the middle of the leaf and look like ribbons dangling from a hand-held fan. (ufl.edu)
Phenology: Flowers Jul? to Dec; fruits Dec-Apr.
Uses: Ribbon fan palm is an asset to any landscape. Plant where it's delicate leaves will not be shredded by prevailing winds. Plant in an openning among trees or up against a wall or structure that can serve as a backdrop so that it's lovely form may be appreciated. Small specimens do well in containers and grow rapidly enough to provide statisfaction to impatient gardeners. (Jack Scheper)
This palm is endemic to Australia and grows along forest edges and coastal swamps in eastern Queensland. In the United States, it can survive where temperatures do not drop below 20°F, such as in parts of Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California. It prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade, and it can reach heights of 30 to 50 feet. Leaves are costapalmate, which means that they have a prominent mid-vein and a common point on the leaf where it lobes or splits. The split occurs in the middle of the leaf and continues to its tip. The area below the split is the part that resembles a hand-held fan. Individual leaves are large with widths ranging from 7 to 9 feet. Each leaf can reach a length of 4 to 6 feet and is attached to a 6-foot petiole that is armed with short, sharp teeth along its margin. Leaves are dark green on their topside and grayish green on their underside. The trunk is light brown with dense leaf base scars encircling it and can reach a diameter of up to 10 inches. Male and female flowers appear on branching flower inflorescences that emerge among the leaves. The inflorescences are 4 to 9 feet long and bear yellow blooms. The fruit is 1/2 inch to 5/8 inches in diameter and turns black when ripe. (ufl.edu)
Tall and slender this palm is a graceful beauty. The symmetrical crown is nearly spherical and held atop an arrow-straight trunk that will typically reach heights of 35 feet. The costapalmate leaves grow up to 9 ft (2.7 m) wide and are held on 6 ft (1.8 m) stems. Costapalmate means that the leaves are midway between palmate (shaped like the palm of your hand) and pinnate (feather-shaped.) Livistona decipiens has narrow folded segments 5-6 ft (1.5-1.8m) in length that are 0.75 in (1.9 cm). About 80 of these segments radiate out from the stem to hang like delicate ribbons toward the ground inspiring this plant's common name "ribbon fan palm". Flowers are yellow and are borne on a 4 ft (1.2 m) inflorescence that is hidden among the leaves. The small black fruit is about 1/2 in (1.3 cm) in diameter. (Floradata.com)
"Last week I got an early morning tour of the landscape at Disney's Animal Kingdom. This is in the new 14 acre Pandora section. It is based on the Avatar movie. They have done a spectacular job with the landscaping using many, many unusual and odd plants. They have also added "fake" alien plants and the blend is seamless. The detail of this park is just incredible. In addition to the Caryota obtusa (they planted over 200 of these) which I posted in a separate post, they planted some other nice palms and most aren't the common specimens found here. Bismarckia nobilis, most of these were 25-30ft tall and several were green forms". Livistona decora. Orlando, FL. Photo by H.P. Leu Gardens Botanist Eric S.
- 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.