| Parajubaea (pahr-ah-joo-BEH-ah) |
Bolivia. Photo by Dr. Germaine A. Parada.
Habitat and DistributionParajubaea sunkha is endemic to Bolivia.
Stem 4-10 (-14) m tall, 25-50 cm in diam., covered to the base with old sheaths. Leaves 18-26 per crown, 2-3 m long, erect and arching in distal third portion; sheath 35-120 cm long, with a dense tough brown fiber 1-1.35 m long, 40-70 cm wide; petiole 33- 100 cm long; rachis 2-2.5 m long, triangular in cross section at apex; pinnae 66-92 per side, lanceolate, irregularly inserted in groups of 2-5, 3-4 cm apart, in one plane, plicate at base, green and lustrous adaxially, glaucous abaxially; basal pinnae 45-80 X 0.4-1.1 cm; middle pinnae 62-70 X 2.5- 3 cm; apical pinnae 40-52 X 0.3-0.8 cm. Inflorescences up to six per plant. 1.8-2.5 in long, buds erect becoming pendulous at anthesis: prophyll about 1.4 m long and 13 cm in diam. at base; peduncular bract 0.85-1.75 m long, apiculate, inflated above, woody, sulcate, brown externally, glabrous and white-cream internally; peduncle 60-80 cm long, glabrous; rachis 38-50 cm long, glabrous; rachillae 33-50 spirally arranged, spreading at anthesis, the basal ones 18-32 cm long, the middle ones 28 cm long, the apical ones 21-25 cm long; staminate flowers pedicellate, pedicel 2-6 mm, yellow-orangish; sepals free, briefly connate basally: petals broadly triangular, 10 X 6 mm, valvate; stamens 13-15, 6 mm long; filaments 2 mm long; anthers 4 mm long, medifixed, slightly sagittate; pistillode trifid; pistillate flowers 4-5 (-8) per rachilla, basally inserted, 8.5 X 10 mm; sepals and petals broadly triangular, 10 X 13 mm, petals slightly smaller than sepals; staminodial ring to 2 mm tall, with 6 short teeth; ovary brownish beige tomentose; stigmas to 1 mm long; ovule basal. Fruit ovoid, 3-5 cm long, 2.5-3 cm in diam.; epicarp light green, orange at apex; mesocarp very fibrous; endocarp stonish, brown with 3 inconspicuous ridges; seeds 1 (- 2), 2-2.5 cm long; endosperm homogeneous with central cavity; eophyll bifid. (M. Moraes. 1996)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.
Much material previously cited was misidentified as Parajubaea torallyi (Moraes & Henderson, 1990), to which the new species P. sunkha is undoubtedly closely related, and with which it is wholly allopatric. Parajubaea torallyi is a tree 20-26 m tall, with a smooth and slender stem, and pinnae regularly arranged. It grows on steep western slopes of sandstone mountains ranging from 2000 to 3400 m. There are two populations, which differ in fruit size, shape of endocarp, and number of stamens. They are treated as two varieties of P. torallyi. (M. Moraes. 1996)/Palmweb.
Cool temperate areas. Drought and frost tolerant. Requires good drainage. This species of Parajubaea appears to be one of the hardiest and least problematic in southern California, where frequently Parajubaea cocoides rots or sputters unexpectedly and Parajubaea a bit less often. It is a moderately fast growing palm for southern California slowing down a bit once it forms a trunk (relative to the growth of Parajubaea torrallyi) but it holds a larger crown of leaves making it look more lush than the other species in this genus. Its frost tolerance is good down to about 25F but questionable below that. It tolerates full sun in inland California (but not yet tested in the desert regions) and very high winds once well rooted. Plants planted in heavy clay tend to battle root problems and tend to blow over in high winds (does not appear to be a problem in the other species). (Geoff Stein)
"I have had this plant for about two years in North Central Florida zone 9a. It is planted in a mound of sand and limestone and although it grows very slowly it also stays a deep green and looks very happy, even when it is hot and humid for many days in a row (unusual for Parajubaea). It doesn't grow much once it gets really hot outside though, and this may be why it is taking so long to grow. Definitely try one if you live in zone 9, maybe even a protected 8b while you could cover it." (Kris in Ocala, FL. zone 9a)
Comments and Curiosities
"Only very recently described (1996), the most visible character is that this species keep reddish hairs, (fibres) called "sunkha" in the top of the trunk, and that have plenty of uses for the local peoples." (Gaston Torres Vera).
Etymology: The vernacular Aymaran name of sunkha, which refers to the density of fibers, has been adopted for the species epithet.
Uses: This palm is exploited locally: fibers are collected for ropes, mattresses, and pads; leaves and leaflets for fans and baskets; fruits for human consumption; palmheart and young leaves for forage. Its fruits are sold in the market Vallegrande, its seeds are edible and have a pleasant taste, they also are used to make cupcakes, the fiber of the leaf bases are used in the manufacture of mattresses, pillows, rope, and saddle for horses. (From the Spanish).
The palm produces a fibre, which grows in its leaf axils and is locally used to make mattresses, ropes and saddle pillows. Apart from subsistence use these products are sporadically sold on local markets. The leaves are used to manufacture hats, baskets and fans (Vargas 1994). Leafs and fruits serve as fodder for livestock. Furthermore, the species is internationally traded as ornamental plant.
"Parajuabea sunkha is probably the third species of Parajuabea, assuming torrallyi and microcarpa are sub-species of the same thing, and assuming that sunkha and cocoides are not sub-species. The whole taxonomy seems a little confused. Anyway, sunkha is a smaller growing palm (to about 8 m), grows at lower altitude, and looks a little more like a (small) coconut than the others, from the pictures I've seen". (Dr. Axel Krayel)
My plants came as seeds from Gaston in Argentina, he also sent me some pictures of them, one of which is the one below. When the seeds arrived, they had that slight rotten coconut smell, and not as many germinated as I would have liked, considering the cost.
Conservation: IUCN Red List - Endangered. 2006. Range Description: Parajubaea sunkha is endemic to only a few inter-Andean valleys in the province of Vallegrande, in the department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia (Vargas 1994). (IUCN Red List)
The most important sites for the species are around the villages of “Mataralcito” and “El Palmar”. At these two sites there is to be found a population of up to 17,000 mature individual. On other sites, however, populations are very small (1–100 mature individuals). (IUCN Red List)
Population: According to Vargas (1994) (the Supplementary Material for figure 2: location of the Parajubaea sunkha subpopulations according to Vargas (1994)): There are 14 locations recorded, most of which show only a few individuals (1–100). The only significant populations are to be found in locations number 11 (Mataralcito) and 12 (El Palmar) with an estimate of up to 17,000 mature individuals. Degree of fragmentation is high. Approximately the half of the populations are fragmented and are estimated to be only little viable. (IUCN Red List)
Major Threats: If the palm remains undisturbed it shows an abundant regeneration in its natural habitat, but overgrazing, land clearing, fires and human use of the palm’s fibres have a strong impact on the regeneration dynamics of this rare species (Vargas 1994). (IUCN Red List)
On many sites the palm is a direct competitor to agriculture. The custom of felling the tallest trees when their productivity ceases, shows clearly that the palm will not be conserved unless it provides important socio-economic benefits to the farmers. This means that there is a dilemma between the usefulness and the subsequent overexploitation of the species, and the uselessness and clear cutting of the remaining populations. (IUCN Red List)
The absence of palms around 0.5 m of height (+/-20 years old) can be traced back to the construction of a road that connects the rural area with the town. Before the road was built, farmers transported the fibre with donkeys and on their backs to the local market. This limited them in terms of the quantity they could transport and secured the fructification of adult palms to ensure regeneration. Since the road was build in 1984, it is possible to harvest and transport much larger quantities of palm fibre. Farmers confirm that in this time almost all palms were under exploitation. As a result, regeneration almost came to a halt. This is shown by the absence of the 0.5 m tall palms in the populations 1 and 2. These palm stands are directly linked to the road and as consequence were exploited heavily. (IUCN Red List)
The populations 3 and 4 belong to farmers that live within about an hour walk from the road. As a result, exploitation in these palm stands was not as intensive and regeneration could occur to some degree. This is testified by the presence of more young palms between 0.5–1 m of height compared to population 1 and 2. (IUCN Red List)
Habitat and Ecology: Parajubaea sunkha is a montane palm species which grows at an altitude from 1,700 to 2,500 m above sea level. It is endemic to only a few inter-Andean valleys (Vargas 1994). Mean annual precipitation in this region is about 550 mm with a marked dry season of five months between June and October, in some years it lasts even longer. In the wet season frosts can occur at night. This makes the palm suitable for Mediterranean localities with similar climates (Vargas 1994). Loving shadow in the youth and bare sun as an adult it out-competes the accompanying vegetation when closing the canopy. In the dark Parajubaea understorey, a humid and template microclimate can be observed and rotten leaves form a humic topsoil which is ideal for the germination of the palm seeds. After pollination, the fruit ripens for about 20 months. When fallen to ground, the seed is distributed by rodents who feed on the fruit. It is estimated that rodents do not disperse the seed over a larger distance than 100 m from one mother tree. Under natural conditions, the seeds need another 17 months for germination (Vargas 1994), but with the help of in vitro cultivation the germination time of P. sunkha and P. torallyi can be brought down to only several weeks (Ibisch 2004). (IUCN Red List)
Native only to a few remote, dry valleys in the foothills of the Andes, theZunca Palm has frequently been confused with Parajubaea torallyi and has only recently been described as a separate species by Bolivian botanist Monica Moraes. P. sunkha grows at lower elevations (1700 to 2200 m (5600 to 7200 ft.)) than any other Parajubaea, making it more suitable for warm and dry areas such as Southern California, Spain or Sicily. Like all Parajubaea, however, it prefers milder type climates and will not grow in tropical areas. In general appearance, P. sunkha resembles P. cocoides from Ecuador. In its native areas it has become quite rare due to land clearing for agriculture and over exploitation as a source of fibers, which are produced in copious amounts by the leafbases of the palm. (RPS.com).
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- At Gary Le Vine's place. Video by Troy Donovan.
- Conservation Status and Economic Potential of Parajubaea sunkha, an Endemic Palm of Bolivia By Dr.s JOHANNES ENSSLE, HUGO FERRUFINO AND PIERRE L. IBISCH*
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).
Moraes, M.1996. Novelties of the Genera Parajubaea and Syagrus (Palmae) from Interandean Valleys of Bolivia. Novon 6: 85-92.
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.