| Pritchardia (pritch-AHR-dee-ah) |
Foster Botanic Garden in Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo by Geoff Stein
Habitat and DistributionHawaii. Wet to moist forests in valleys and on exposed slopes and sea cliffs,
To 10 m tall; proximal margins of petiole with moderate fibers; leaf blade slightly undulate, divided 2/5-1/2, abaxial surface incompletely covered with scattered lepidia, segment tips drooping to occasionally stiff; inflorescences composed of 1-3 panicles, equaling or exceeding petioles in flower, exceeding petioles or equaling leaf blades in fruit, panicles branched to 2 or 3 orders, rachillae glabrous to clothed with scurfy indumentum in flower, glabrous in fruit or rarely with scurfy indumentum; fruits 35-60 x 30-45 mm, globose to ovoid. (iucn.org) Editing by edric.
Pritchardia lowreyana is distinctive in its leaf blades incompletely covered abaxially with lepidia, inflorescences equaling to exceeding petioles in flower and exceeding petioles to equaling leaf blades in fruit, glabrous rachillae, and large fruits. On Molokai it occurs with or near P.forbesiana, but the latter differs in its petioles with a greater abundance of fibers proximally and inflorescences shorter than or equal to the petioles. One anomalous collection, Rock 17346 from Waiakapua Valley, Molokai, is rather striking in its fruiting rachillae densely clothed with scurfy indumentum. This well-documented species from Molokai has frequently been identified as or confused with Pritchardia gaudichaudii and P. macrocarpa (see the account of the former under P. martii and the latter in the section on dubious or insufficiently known species for an explanation). In Beccari and Rock (1921), photographs of P. lowreyana are erroneously captioned as P. gaudichaudii ( PI. VIII A, B) and as P. macrocarpa (Pl. XII A, B). Pritchardia lowreyana has long been cultivated in Honolulu, the most famous plant being the tree at Hillebrand's former residence, now Foster Botanical Garden of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens system, and has official designation as an Exceptional Tree of Hawaii (Belknap 1982). The holotype of Pritchardia lowreyana at BISH is unnumbered while the isotype at Fl is numbered Rock 14075. St. John (1984, p. 479) selected one of the syntypes of P. donata (Caum 152) as the lectotype for this binomial. (iucn.org)
Pritchardia lowreyana is an easy to grow palm but not often available for the landscape. Pritchardia lowreyana vary in shape. Specimens raised in dry and/or infertile soils tend to be smaller in stature with smaller leaves. Light also affects the plant's form while those grown in full sun are more compact. This palm prefers a sunny, well drained, and moist location. Growth rate: It is a slow growing, short stocky palm. Soil: It likes organic soil, but is adaptable to clay and loam both slightly alkaline and acidic. Good drainage is also important. Fertilization: Need a perfect fertilizer diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements or slow release fertilizer. Micro-nutrient deficiencies are occasional problems. If it doesn't get enough Mn and Fe (Iron), the leaves take on a rather unhealthy yellow colour. Micro-nutrient deficiencies only show up on soil with a high pH. Fertilize often for faster growth. Water Requirements: Needs regular water, do not let dry out between waterings. however it does not want to sit in continually wet, mucky soil. The roots and lower trunk can rot if soil is kept too moist. Light: Prefers full sun but will tolerate half day sun. Hardiness: It is adapted to tropical and subtropical climates, young plants are more cold sensitive. Maintenance: Remove dead fronds and spent fruiting stalks for a clean landscape appearance. Fronds can be left on the palm to form a skirt for natural settings. Palms recycle nutrients from dead or dying fronds and use them for healthier fronds. Palms only have a set number of new leaves that can sprout and grow per year and removing fronds will not increase that number. If you cut off more than what will grow annually, you could be left with a pretty bare and bald palm. Pest & Disease: Mealybugs and whiteflies underneath the leaves can present problems at times if not kept in check. A generous spray of water can wash them off. Ornamental: It is cultivated as an ornamental tree, and planted in gardens and parks in tropical and sub-tropical climates either as a single specimen or in groups. Culture in containers is possible although growth rates are slower. A bright patio will provide an excellent environment for young specimens which can eventually be planted in a sunny location. (llifle.com)
Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b.
"Apply a complete palm fertilizer with minor elements as directed on label. Be certain that sufficient magnesium and potassium is present in the fertilizer component. This is especially critical for loulus in pots. Magnesium and potassium deficiencies are two of the most serious nutritional disorders in palms. The deficiencies are characterized by bright yellowing (chlorotic) on leaf edges or streaking or the entire fronds yellowing. This can be difficult to reverse. Applications of Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate (MgSO4), is good but does not last and is usually washed out of the soil in rainy periods. There are some very good slow release fertilizer spikes made for especially for palms on the market which contain a good balance of minor elements with magnesium and potassium. Potted or younger loulu planted in the ground appreciate a foliar feeding of kelp or fish emulsion and Epsom salt monthly or bi-monthly. David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi." (Encyclopedia of Life curator Dr. David Eickhoff)
Loulu are prone to leaf rollers, red spider mites and sugar cane borers. Rats will eat its fruit. (Encyclopedia of Life curator Dr. David Eickhoff)
Comments and Curiosities
Etymology: Pritchardia name is dedicated to William Thomas Pritchard (1829-1907), British official stationed in Fiji in the 19th Century, British counsul in Fiji, adventurer, and author of Polynesian Reminiscences in 1866. The specific epithet lowreyana is named for the late Mrs. F. J. Lowrey of Honolulu. (Encyclopedia of Life curator Dr. David Eickhoff)
Conservation: This small palm tree is not regenerating well, because of seed predation by rats, pigs and goats. (ICUN Redlist 1998)
This loulu (Pritchardia lowreyana) has been cultivated in Hawaiʻi for many years. The most famous example is at the former residence of William Hillebrand (1821-1886), physician and botanist. It is now known as Foster Botanical Garden. This very special loulu surrounded by a low iron fence has the official desination as an Exceptional Tree of Hawaiʻi. A more detailed account is located in the "Special Features and Information" section of this profile. ("A Review of the Genus Pritchardia", pages S-3, S-8, S-24.)
A Very Special Palm: Visitors to Foster Botanical Gardens in Honolulu will see a small loulu surrounded by an iron fence. Planted over 100 years ago, this small palm has a historical significance in Honolulu. William Hillebrand (1821-1886), was a young Prussian physician and plant collector when he came to the islands to live in 1850. An enthusiastic botanist, Hillebrand planted many of the plants he collected on the grounds of Queen's Hospital and also on his own property in Nuʻuanu. After moving back to Germany, the property was sold to his neighbors Thomas & Mary Foster. Today, it is known as the Foster Botanical Gardens. It was sometime after 1851 that this loulu was planted by Dr. Hillebrand. The original habitat of this species, then known as Pritchardia macrocarpa, was in the upper end of Nuʻuanau Valley on Oʻahu and thought to be extinct when it was recently rediscovered. This particular loulu in Foster Botanical Gardens has been given the official designation as an Exceptional Tree of Hawaiʻi. ("Majesty--The Exceptional Trees of Hawaii," by Jodi Parry Belknap, page 20.)
"Pritchardia lowreyana is endemic to the Island of Molokai, and in 2007 considered to be the appropriate name for what was formerly called Pritchardia macrocarpa on Oahu. Its natural habitat on Molokai is at approximately 3000 feet elevation near Waialeia. P. lowreyana is a short robust palm with thick leathery leaves and large black fruit with some 2000 specimens in habitat, it is not reproducing in the wild and faces threats and endangerment. This species, when grown at or near sea level, seems to be affected by the change in elevation with character changes. Through personal observation, differences in the size of the fruit and form of the leaves have been noticed." (Bill Chang)
"The size of the fruit on the specimen at both Foster Garden in Honolulu and the Maui Nui Botanical Garden in Kahului are not large as those described in the habitat by the Palm & Cycad Societies of Australia’s The Palms of Hawaii II article on their website." (Bill Chang)
"A slow growing palm with relatively deeply split leaves (about 1/2 their length) and skinny trunk. Seeds are olive shaped and moderatly large (2-2.5cm). Though rare in the wild, it's becoming much more available in cultivation, and I have had no problems with it in zone 9b in So Cal. Temps got down to 26F where my seedling was growing and it did fry all the leaves pretty bad, but it recovered nicely. Temps as low as 29F don't seem to touch it any, if they are brief." (Geoff Stein)
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- Enigmatic Honolulu Palm Tree!
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).
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.