Livistona lanuginosa

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Livistona (liv-iss-TOH-nah)
lanuginosa (lah-noo-jih-NO-sah)
Los Angeles, CA. Photo by Geoff Stein
Scientific Classification
Genus: Livistona (liv-iss-TOH-nah)
lanuginosa (lah-noo-jih-NO-sah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Cape River Fan-palm, Burdekin Livistona, Woolly Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Queensland, Australia. Queensland. Restricted to the Cape, Campaspe, Rollston, Burdekin and Belyando Rivers and tributaries.
Los Angeles arboretum, CA. Photo by Geoff Stein
Occurs as a riparian element along the margins of streams and in seasonal gullies and associated floodplains with high watertables, at 140-270 m alt.


Functionally dioecious palm. Trunk to 18 m tall, 25-35 cm in diameter; breast high, leaf scars raised, compressed, internodes broad, grey-brown, base with persistent petiole stubs. Leaves 35-45 in a globose crown; petiole 150- 200 cm long, 30-35 mm wide, adaxially flat, margins with small single, curved black spines confined to the proximal portion; leaf-base fibres moderately prominent, coarse, persistent; lamina costapalmate, costa arcuate, regularly segmented, ± circular in outline, 130-190 cm long, coriaceous, daxially pale grey-green, abaxially lighter grey-green, waxy, trongly pruinose; lamina divided for ca 34% of its length, with 70-92 segments, depth of apical cleft ca 24% of the segment length, apical lobes acuminate, semi-pendulous; parallel veins 8 each side of midrib; transverse veins thinner than parallel veins. Inflorescences unbranched at the base, not sexually dimorphic, 140-220 cm long, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, branched to 4 orders; partial inflorescences 8-12; prophyll densely tomentose; peduncular bracts 1-2, loosely sheathing, densely lanuginose; rachis bracts loosely sheathing, not disintegrating, densely lanuginose; rachillae 3-12 cm long, glabrous. Flowers solitary or in pairs, funnel-shaped, 2.8-3 mm long, cream to yellow; sepals narrowly triangular, about 1.5 mm long, fleshy, acuminate to aristate; petals triangular, 2.8-3 mm long, thick, acute; stamens about 2 mm long. Fruit globose, 25- 36 mm in diam., purple-brown to black with scattered white flecks; epicarp with large lenticellular pores; suture line extends for about ½ the length of the fruit, marked with lip-like structures; mesocarp fibrous, dry; endocarp 2-3 mm wide; pedicel to 1 mm long. Seed globose, 18-22 mm wide. Eophyll 5 ribbed. (Dowe, J.L.) /Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Livistona lanuginosa was described by Rodd (1998) based on Irvine 1912 collected from Glenroy Ck, a tributary of the Burdekin R., Queensland, and named for the densely lanuginose inflorescence bracts. Bailey (1902) had previously determined the population to be L. mariae:" I have received a portion of a leaf from F.L. Berney, of Hellenslie, Campaspe R., which in all probability belongs to this inland palm". Recently, the species was informally known as "Livistona sp. Cape River" (Jones, 1996). Livistona lanuginosa most closely resembles L. mariae and L. rigida, but is eadily distinguished by its much larger fruit and the densely lanuginose prophyll and inflorescence bracts. An interesting historical account was provided by Leichhardt (1847) who noted this palm in the diary of his transcontinental expedition of 1845: " (in the Burdekin R. valley on 25 March 1845)" at the junction of the creek, a great number of small Corypha palms were growing, and my companions observed the dead stems of some very high ones, whose tops had been cut off by the natives, probably to obtain the growing shoot". Livistona lanuginosa is one of Australia's most endangered palms (Dowe, 2007). Pettit and Dowe (2003) undertook a population study and estimated that the total population consisted of less than 1000 mature individuals, all of which occur on private property within the Burdekin R. catchment. Primary threats are trampling and browsing of seedlings and juveniles by cattle, which prevents regeneration. Livistona lanuginosa is a large sub-canopy to canopy palm to 18 m tall; leaves are large and regularly segmented; segment apices are rigid to semi- endulous, and with a bifurcate cleft to 63% of the segment length; he inflorescence is unbranched, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, and with up to 12 partial inflorescences; bracts are loosely sheathing and distinctively densely tomentose/lanuginose; flowers are cream to yellow; fruit are globose to 36 mm diam., and purple brown to black at maturity. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb.


Comments and Curiosities

Phenology: Flowers Mar-Nov; fruits Nov-Jan.

Conservation: Endangered. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb.

One of the faster growing fan palms for Southern California- not a common one in cultivation (yet), though. Has upright habit, somewhat narrow, grey-green fan leaves that droop only near the tips. Australian native. (Geoff Stein)

A robust Livistona from inland areas in N-Queensland, Australia, closely related to L. mariae. The Cape River fan Palm has fairly stiff, waxy, blueish leaves and large purplish fruits. It is best suited to drier climates and quite cold and even frost tolerant. (

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).

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

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