Pinanga pachyphylla

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Pinanga (pih-NAHN-gah)
pachyphylla (pahk-ih-FILL-lah)
Pinanga pachyphylla01.jpg
In habitat. Sarawak. Photo by Rudy Meyer,
Scientific Classification
Genus: Pinanga (pih-NAHN-gah)
pachyphylla (pahk-ih-FILL-lah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary & clustering.
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Borneo. Found in lowland and submontane kerangas
Photo by Paul Craft
forest on sandstone.


Moderate, solitary or clustering undergrowth palm with stems to 3 m tall, about 2 cm in diam., conspicuously marked with nodal scars, internodes about 5-10 cm, the surface covered with caducous brown scales. Crown of about 5 pinnate leaves, the sheaths forming a well-defined green crownshaft about 30 x 2 cm; sheath 15-25 x 2 cm, rather succulent in texture when fresh, drying dull brown, striate, with caducous scattered scales, apparently lacking any ligule-like appendages; petiole about 30 x 1 cm, bearing caducous scales as the sheath; rachis about 90 cm, scaly as the petiole, bearing 9-20 very thick, stiff, almost succulent narrow rather divergent leaflets, bright green when fresh, drying silky dull green to brown, acuminate, mostly composed of single folds except for the compound terminal leaflet pair, the longest in mid-leaf to 50 x 2.2 cm, the apical pair about 25 x 3 cm, both surfaces glabrous. Inflorescence spreading or pendulous, 14-20 cm long with 4-6 divergent rachillae held stiffly ± in one plane; prophyll not preserved; peduncle 10-20 x 6 mm just above the base; rachillae green at anthesis, glabrous, about 11-17 x 0.4 cm, bearing strictly distichous triads subtended by minute scarcely visible bracts, rachilla becoming orange after fertilisation. Staminate flower irregularly flattened and curved by close-packing; calyx irregularly explanate and 3-lobed, ca. 1-2 mm high; petals irregular, very fleshy, two ± triangular-ovate, about 8.5 x 4.5 mm, the third about 8 x 2.5 mm; stamens about 10, filaments very short, 0.2-0.5 mm, anthers elongate 2.5 x 0.8 mm with broad connective. Pollen grains monosulcate, ellipsoid in apertural view; long axis (27-) 30.3 (-34) mm, short axis (21-) 23.0 (-25) mm, wall thickness, about 1-1.5 mm, sulcus membrane thin, underlying small finely reticulate insulae, sulcus shorter than long axis, exine semitectate, finely reticulate, lumina slightly reduced in diameter at sulcus margin. Pistillate flower globular depressed, about 2 x 3 mm; calyx of 3 separate imbricate, rounded striate sepals, about 2 x 2.5 mm, with imbricate, rounded, striate sepals, about 2 x 2.5 mm, with minutely toothed margins; petals 3, imbricate, similar to the sepals; staminodes lacking; ovary rounded about 1.5 mm in diam., tipped with conspicuous curved, irregularly lobed stigma. Immature fruit green, broad-ellipsoidal, pointed at both ends, 9 x 5 mm; seed spherical, 4 mm in diam., deeply ruminate. Seedling not known. (Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. 2005)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

A rare palm found in lowland and submontane kerangas forest on sand-stone, P. pachyphylla is peculiar in its strange succulent texture. It is probably related to P. stricta Becc., P. ligulata Becc. and P. patula Bl., but is distinctive in the texture of the leaves, the distant leaflets and its neat inflorescence with stiff divergent glabrous rachillae. (Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. 2005)/Palmweb.


Warm, sheltered and moist, less water in winter. Cold Hardiness Zone : 10b

Comments and Curiosities

This beautiful palm produces one or more stems that reach up to 3 m tall, and hold small cups, outstretched leaves, delicately pinnate. Its narrow leaflets are very rigid, thick and almost succulent. Pinanga pachyphylla is native to the thickets of Sarawak on Borneo Island. (

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).

Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

J. Dransfield, Notes on Pinanga (Palmae) in Sarawak. 1991

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

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