Livistona exigua

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Livistona (liv-iss-TOH-nah)
exigua (eks-EEG-wah)
Bukit Batu Datam, Ulu Ingei, Brunei. Borneo. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Livistona (liv-iss-TOH-nah)
exigua (eks-EEG-wah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Borneo. Brunei. Belait District, Ulu Ingei. Known only from a single collection from Borneo (Brunei). In forest transitional between lowland Dipterocarp forest and kerangas (heath forest) on sandstone, at 60-260 m alt. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb.

Bukit Batu Datam, Ulu Ingei, Brunei. Borneo. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.

Dr. P. S. Ashton (pers. comm.) recalls that the area where the palm grew is on shallow podsolic sands in forest ecotonal between mixed Dipterocarp and Heath forest on Miocene and Pliocene sandstones belonging to the Belait formation. (J. Dransfield. 1977)/Palmweb.


Hermaphroditic, Solitary palm. Trunk to 5 m tall, 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter; breast high, leaf scars raised, irregular in width, internodes narrow, irregular in length, pale brown, petiole stubs not persistent. Leaves 16-20 in a vertically ovoid crown; petiole 40-60 cm long, slightly arching, proximally about 6 mm wide, tapered to about 3 mm wide distally, adaxially flat, armed on the margins in the lower one-third, upper margins sharp, slightly winged; petiole surface with scattered caducous pseudo-parenchymatous peltate scales on both surfaces; spines retrorsely recurved, brown, to 4 mm long, bases swollen, regularly placed at about 5 mm apart; leaf-base fibres prominent, coarse, closely woven, dull dark brown, persistent; appendage to about 30 cm long; lamina palmate, irregularly segmented, with segments grouped and with divisions between each group of segments deeper into the lamina than the divisions between individual segments, circular, about 50 cm wide, adaxially midgreen, abaxially lighter green, adaxially glabrous, scattered brown scales abaxially; lamina divided for about 42% of its length, with 16-30 segments that are single or grouped into 2-6 segments, depth of apical cleft ca 8% of the segment length; segments to 25 cm long, widest at mid segment, 1.0-1.5 cm wide, acuminate toward both apex and base, apical lobes rigid, finely toothed; parallel veins 5-6 each side of midrib; transverse veins ± same thickness as parallel veins; hastula conspicuous, to 5 mm wide and 2-3 mm high. Inflorescences unbranched at the base, 15-40 cm long, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, straight to slightly curving, branched to 2 orders; partial inflorescences 3-4; peduncle 20-25 cm long, elliptical in cross-section; prophyll tubular, to 18 cm long, dark brown with pale brown scurfy indumentum along the keels, minutely longitudinally striate, the apices acute; peduncular bract(s) lacking; rachis bracts loosely tubular; partial inflorescence axes covered densely with indumentum and papillae; rachillae 6-10 cm long, rigid, to ca 2.5 mm diameter. Flowers solitary or paired, sessile, purplish, subtended by a fimbriate bract about 0.2 mm high, about 1 mm in diam.; sepals fused for about half their length to form a short tube about 0.3 mm high, lobes about 0.2 mm high, rounded, fimbriate, abaxially densely covered with indumentum; petals broadly triangular, glabrous, about 0.4 mm high, basally fused for about one-quarter their length; stamens about 2 mm high, basally fused, swollen; carpels glabrous, style about 0.2 mm high. Fruit globose, about 9 mm in diam., purplish-green; epicarp smooth; suture line extending the full length of the fruit; mesocarp about 1.5 mm thick with numerous tannin cells; endocarp crustaceous, about 0.3 mm thick; pedicel 1-2 mm long. Seed globose. Eophyll not seen. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

This palm would probably make an extremely attractive subject for cultivation and it is to be hoped that it can be recollected. (J. Dransfield. 1977)

Livistona exigua was described by Dransfield (1977) based on the collection Ashton BRUN5513 collected from the Belait District, Brunei, in 1959, and named with reference to the palm's small stature. This collection had remained as unidentified material in Kew, but with examination by Dransfield was recognised as a new species. It has provided a considerable ecological extension for the genus, as a rainforest understorey palm in kerangas heath, which was previously not recorded in Livistona. Livistona exigua is an understorey palm to 5 m tall; leaves are small, and have grouped segments and deep divisions between the groups; segment apices are rigid; the inflorescence is unbranched, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, and with up to four partial inflorescences; flowers are purplish; fruit are globose, to 9 mm in diam., and purplish green at maturity. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

Conservation: Near threatened. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb.

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).

Dowe, J.L., A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae). A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae).

J. Dransfield, A dwarf Livistona (Palmae) from Borneo. 1977. 1977. A dwarf Livistona (Palmae) from Borneo. Kew Bulletin, Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 759-762.

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

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