Phoenix andamanensis

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Phoenix (FEH-niks)
Pandcache 2438266189.jpg
Scientific Classification
Genus: Phoenix (FEH-niks)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Andaman Is. Phoenix andamanensis has been recorded from one locality each in both North Andaman and Little Andaman,
and from Cinque and Rutland Islands (Brandis 1906; Parkinson 1923). The modern distribution of the species is unknown. Higher ground (c. 450 - 700 m) on the islands. A recent report (Balachandran, pers. comm.) noted that the species occurs in undisturbed 'scrub jungle' on the eastern side of Rutland Island and northern end of North Cinque Island. (S.C. Barrow. 1998)/Palmweb.


Solitary tree palm. Stem 1.5 - 3.5 (5) m, without leaf sheaths about 15 cm in diam. Leaves to about 2.4 m long; acanthophylls sparsely arranged in one plane, to about 4 cm long; leaflets closely and regularly inserted in one plane, 14 - 45 x 0.4 - 2.5 cm; lamina concolorous with discontinuous white, scurfy ramenta in midrib region on the abaxial surface. Staminate inflorescence with prophyll to about 30 x 5 cm, coriaceous; rachillae to about 10 cm long. Staminate flowers not seen. Pistillate inflorescence with prophyll splitting twice between margins, to 60 x 4 cm; peduncle to 100 x 1.2 cm; rachillae to about 23 cm long. Pistillate flowers spirally arranged in distal half of rachilla, about 20 in number; calyx cupule 1.5 mm high; petals 3 - 4 x 6 mm. Fruit oblong, to 19 x 10 mm, colour at maturity not known. Seed elongate, to 14 x 7 mm; embryo lateral opposite raphe, slightly supra-equatorial; endosperm ruminate. (S.C. Barrow. 1998)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

The existence of a second species of Phoenix in the Andaman Islands, in addition to P. paludosa, was noted by Kurz (1870), Brandis (1906) and Parkinson (1923), but its identity was not ascertained. Beccari provisionally named three herbarium specimens (Rogers s.n., 132 and 285 at K) of the species as P. pusilla var. andamanensis (nom. in sched.), but Brandis (1906) compared it with P. rupicola. I have found P. andamanensis to be similar morphologically and anatomically to P. rupicola. Both species are solitary in habit and have broad leaflets (to 3 cm in width) which are closely and regularly inserted in one plane of orientation. The abaxial lamina surface of both species bears discontinuous, abaxial white ramenta in the midrib region. Despite similarities between P. andamanensis and R rupicola, the former is immediately distinguished by its seed with ruminate endosperm. The close relationship between P. andamanensis and P. rupicola supports the acknowledged similarity between the flora of the Andaman Islands with that of northeast India. Rao (1996) cited two rare orchid species from northeastern India, Porpax meirax King & Pantl. and Ascocentrum ampullaceum Schltr., which are also found on Saddle Peak on North Andaman. (S.C. Barrow. 1998)/Palmweb.


Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: Genus name; Phoenix, a person or thing of unsurpassed beauty or excellence.

Conservation: The conservation status of P. andamanensis is unclear. It seems that the species was never common throughout the islands, but formed large populations in two localities. Brandis (1906) and Parkinson (1923) noted it as forming 'forests' on Cinque Island and north eastern Rutland Island. The fact that P. andamanensis was not found in a survey of palms of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Mathew & Abraham (1994) suggests that the species might now be rare. (S.C. Barrow. 1998)/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).

S.C. Barrow, A Monograph of Phoenix L. (Palmae: Coryphoideae). 1998. A Monograph of Phoenix L. (Palmae: Coryphoideae). Kew Bulletin, Vol. 53, No. 3 (1998), pp. 513-575.

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

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