| Livistona (liv-iss-TOH-nah) |
Livistona rigida, Island Stack, Lawn Hill Gorge, Boodjamulla National Park, QLD, 24/08/05. Photo by Russell Cumming.
Habitat and DistributionAustralia. Queensland and Northern Territory.
This species, which is closely related to L. mariae, is found at the Mataranka Hot Springs Reserve and along the Roper River as well as in scattered groups along rivers of the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is also found as scattered remnants in open forest indicating a previous more widespread distribution. Reed states the species extends along the Roper River from Mataranka to Elsey, about 70-80 km, being densest in the Red Lily Lagoon area. It also extends a short distance along some of the tributaries such as Salt Creek and Elsey Creek.
Functionally dioecious palm. Trunk to 28 m tall, 30-40 cm in diam. breast high, leaf scars raised, internodes narrow, grey, petiole stubs persistent in the basal 1 m or so, otherwise deciduous. Leaves 30-50 in a globose crown; petiole 150-250 cm long, 20-35 mm wide, adaxially concave, margins with single curved reddish-black spines to 6 mm long in the proximal portion, otherwise smooth; leaf-base fibres moderately prominent, coarse, persistent; lamina costapalmate, regularly segmented, circular in outline, 125-170 cm long, 100-150 cm in diam., rigidly coriaceous, adaxially grey to glaucous, midgreen, semi-glossy, abaxially lighter green, glaucous; lamina divided for 50-55% of its length, with 50-78 segments, depth of apical cleft 30-63% of the segment length, apical lobes acuminate, rigid or semi-pendulous; parallel veins 5-7 each side of midrib; transverse veins thinner than parallel veins. Inflorescences unbranched at the base, not sexually dimorphic, 100-250 cm long, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, branched to 4 orders; artial inflorescences 9-14; prophyll 25-38 cm long, 8-9 cm wide; peduncular bract 1, loosely tubular with moderate to dense white-grey scales; rachis bracts loosely tubular with sparse white scales; rachillae 3-8 cm long, rigid, glabrous. Flowers in clusters of 3-8, globose, about 1.8 mm long, cream to yellow; sepals broadly ovate, about 2 mm long, thin, acute; petals triangular 1.0-1.4 mm long, obtuse; stamens about 1.2 mm long. Fruit globose, 12-14 mm in diam., semi-glossy black; epicarp with scattered lenticellular pores; suture line extends for about ½ the length of the fruit, marked with lip-like tructures; mesocarp fibrous; endocarp thin; pedicel about 2 mm long. Seed globose, 9-11 mm wide. Eophyll 5-ribbed. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb.
Livistona rigida was described by Beccari (1921), based on a collection, at that time by an unknown collector, from Albert R. in the Gulf of arpentaria, and named for the 'spadix rigidus'. This specimen, conserved in K, is most likely one that was collected by Mueller during the 1855 North-Australian Expedition and sent to Kew. Mueller (1858) reported on the expedition, in which he noted: "Livistona inermis and an allied species supplied us occasionally with palm cabbage", but whether the 'allied species' relates to L. rigida cannot be verified. But it is known that in August of 1855 Mueller traversed the area in which L. rigida is now known to occur and collected extensively (Mueller, 1857). Bentham (1878) included this same specimen as one of his reference specimens in his description of L. humilis, citing Mueller as the collector. However, his description certainly does not account for the size of the leaf in the Mueller specimen, as his description placed the radius of the leaf at about 1½ ft? (about 45 cm) whereas the leaf of L. rigida is 150-170 cm long. Beccari (1931), not knowing the size or habit of L. rigida as he described it on the unannotated Mueller specimen, suggested that Plate 145, Fig. 4 and Plate 146 in Martius (1838) could belong to L. rigida based on the apparent large size of the leaf. Beccari correctly determined that the leaf of L. inermis, the species that the illustrations were supposed to represent, were much smaller that those illustrated. Livistona rigida is a large canopy palm to 28 m tall; leaves are large and regularly segmented; segment apices are rigid to semi-pendulous, and with a bifurcate cleft to 63% 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, with the peduncular bract with moderate to dense white-grey scales and the rachis bracts with sparse white-grey scales; flowers are cream to yellow; fruit are globose to 14 mm in diam., and semi-glossy black at maturity. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb.
Less cold tolerant than L. mariae.
Seeds planted in deep trays will germinate freely in a few weeks, but nothing will appear above ground for 2 or 3 months. The seedbox should be placed in the sun at this point and kept well watered. Seedlings are moved to progressively larger pots, moderately fertilized and a course mix used. To prevent fungus attacks plants should be kept in full sun and plenty of wind, but very well watered. It has bronzed leaves for its life in pots, and retains this coloration a further 2 or 3 years after planting out. Although often available in nurseries, it is perhaps a little too big for suburban gardens. (Palms & Cycads)
Comments and Curiosities
Phenology: Flowers Jun-Dec; fruits Nov-May.
"In Palm Valley they grow densely along the creek. I first went there in my teens and remember being told they were special as their nearest living relatives were the Cabbage Palms on the east coast, Livistona australis. It was a very remote area and the only information around was via word of mouth. The palms were considered a relict population from a time when the centre of the continent was wetter. There were Melaleucas there as well, also associated with wet climates." (tropicbreeze)
"Livistona rigida is variable with redness. In habitat they grow in full sun, stronger than Florida or Arizona, but you still get red or green individuals as small plants. A number of other Livistonas are just as sun hardy, humilis, inermis, victoriae, alfredii, etc." (tropicbreeze)
Lawn Hill Creek, north Queensland, Australia. "This palm has several separate populations along perennial streams flowing into the Gulf of Carpentaria and is closely related to the central Australian palm, L. mariae. We are studying their genetics and phylogeography." Photo-biology-assets.anu.edu.au
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- Click on Arecaceae in the index
- 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.