| Rhapis (RAH-pis) |
Nakai, Laos. Staminate Inflorescence without Peduncular Bracts. Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'laosensis' Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Habitat and DistributionLaos; Vietnam. Alluvial river levée, sandstone soil
Stems to 3 m tall, with sheaths, 11–30 mm in diam., without sheaths 5–11 mm. Leaf sheath with outer and inner fibers close, fine, producing a squared mesh, ligule sometimes remaining intact at maturity; petiole to 2.5 (4.5) mm wide, with a few brown papillae along the margin at the base and apex; blade with V-shaped or semi-circular to lunulate outline, with a conspicuous palman, segments 3–9 (12), folds 15–27, to 340 mm long, sides curved, apices distinctly cucculate, oblique, with irregular dentate secondary splitting, primary splits to within 10–87 mm of the blade base, margins scabrid, thick texture, adaxial surface glossier than abaxial and slightly darker, transverse veinlets conspicuous. Inflorescence, the male and female similar in general appearance, branching to 2 orders; prophyll, large boat-shaped, usually completely overlapping the first rachis bract, thick and woody in texture, pale brown, tomentose, rachis bracts 1 (–2), first bract, reddish brown, large, boat-shaped, thick in texture, either keeled or with up to 3 distinct ribs, inner surface shiny, outer surface tomentose, not sheathing the rachis, a second incomplete rachis bract present in some specimens, similar to the first bract but thinner in texture; rachis overall length to 90 (140) mm, to 5 mm in diam., rachillae short 15–45 mm, covered with minute rusty brown papillae. Flowers, male more densely packed on the rachillae than female, similar in size. Male flowers, obtriangular to 3.5 × 2.6 mm; calyx to 1.3 mm, lobes to 0.8 mm with regular margin; corolla, narrowing towards the base, lacking a receptacular-stalk; filaments, shorter row to 1.8 mm, longer to 2 mm, narrow, to 0.2–3.5 mm in diam.; pistillode minute. Female flowers, globose to 3.4 × 2.8 mm; calyx to 1.2 mm, lobes to 0.5 mm; corolla with a receptacular-stalk to 1.8 mm; staminodes present. Fruit with three carpels developing, borne on a short receptacularstalk to 0.5 mm. Mature fruit not seen. Hermaphrodite inflorescence with male and hermaphrodite flowers to 4.2 × 2.5 mm; calyx to 1.5 mm; corolla with a receptacular-stalk to 1.4 mm; hermaphrodite flower carpels to 1.2 mm. (L. Hastings. 2003)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.
The large thick overlapping prophyll and first rachis bract, shiny adaxial leaf surface which usually has a pinkish tinge when dried and distinctly cucculate leaf segment tips are characteristic of this species. One inflorescence seen was hermaphrodite with larger male and hermaphrodite flowers to 4.2 × 2.5 mm. Specimen labels give the flower colour as greenish cream (female) and bright yellow (male). Photographs of the male inflorescence of TDE 34 show greenish creamy yellow flowers. Beccari (1931) illustrated the specimen Dr Thorell 3154 (P), so this specimen was chosen as the lectotype. (L. Hastings. 2003)/Palmweb.
Cold Hardiness Zone: 9a. Slight damage and yellowing to a plant exposed to 21 degree weather, much hardier than most data suggests. (Krishna)
Comments and Curiosities
There are two merged species: Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'laosensis', and Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'macrantha'
1.) Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'macrantha' Laos, Vietnam. Habitat; Mountainous regions. Stems to 1–2 m tall, with sheaths 17–18 mm in diam., without sheaths 8–9 mm. Leaf sheath tightly sheathing the stem producing a neatly flattened appearance with coarse flattened outer fibers and finer inner ones at maturity, producing a diagonal lined mesh, ligule not remaining intact at maturity; petiole to 2.5 mm wide, margin smooth or sometimes minutely scabrid; blade with wide V-shaped almost semicircular outline, without a conspicuous palman, segments 5–7, folds 17–21, to 220 mm long, sides curved, tapering slightly towards base and apex, apices sometimes cucculate, usually oblique, with regular secondary splitting, primary splits to within 3–5 mm of the blade base, adaxial ribs smooth, abaxial surface of blade noticeably paler than adaxial. Inflorescence, male branching to 2 orders, female to 3; prophyll similar to rachis bracts; rachis bracts 3, sometimes with a distal incomplete rachis bract, bracts tubular more expanded in male than in female, overlapping the base of the next bract, reddish brown, darker at the base, in the male with tomentum on the outer surface, in the female with tomentum on the outer surface at the distal end only; rachis overall length to 190 mm, 4–5 mm in diam., rachillae 16–60 mm long, 0.5–0.8 mm diam., in the male with tomentum, sparser on the rachillae, in the female glabrous. Male flowers to 3.8 × 2.4 mm; calyx to 1.6 mm, lobes to 0.8 mm, margin regular or irregular; corolla sometimes without a receptacular-stalk or with a short receptacular-stalk to 0.8 mm; filaments, shorter row to 1.6 mm, longer row to 2 mm, to 0.2 mm in diam.; pistillode present. Female flowers, only immature available, small, globose to 2.2 × 2.3 mm; calyx to 1.5 mm, lobes to 1 mm, margin regular; corolla with a receptacular-stalk to 0.9 mm; staminodes present. Fruit not seen. (L. Hastings. 2003)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.
Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'macrantha' can be recognized by the few segments that split close to the blade base and the inflorescence bracts and rachis on the male specimens with tomentum, contrasting with the glabrous rachis and almost completely glabrous bracts on the female inflorescence. Fruit is said to be white when fresh (Beccari 1910). The male inflorescences examined had more rachillae than the female ones giving a more dense appearance. This species most closely resembles R. excelsa; it differs from it in having a neat leaf sheath, tightly sheathing the stem, with coarse outer, slightly flattened fibers and finer inner ones at maturity, smooth adaxial segment ribs, not being brown papillate, segments tapering at both ends, all segments splitting closer to the blade base, male rachis and bracts with much tomentum and PALMS Hastings: Revision of Rhapis Volume 47(2) 2003 69 stamens being broad but not keeled. There were no mature female flowers or fruits available for study, but those on Bon 2345 (FI) are described by Beccari (1910,1931) as “flowers prolonged at the base [drawing (1931) indicates 5 mm long and 2 mm wide], into a long columnar solid base, upon which rest the carpels” with fruit 8–9 mm diam. This long receptacular-stalk contrasts with the short receptacular-stalk (to 2 mm) of R. excelsa. An illustration of the flowers of R. P. Bon 2345 (P) and a photograph of the whole specimen were published in Beccari (1931), and so this specimen was chosen by the author as lectotype. Recollection of this species from Vietnam and Laos, especially of female plants, is necessary to gain a better understanding of its delimitation. (L. Hastings. 2003)/Palmweb.
2.) Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'laosensis' Vietnam, Laos (type). Thailand — EASTERN: Roi Et; NORTH-EASTERN: Mukdahan. In Evergreen forest. Loosely clustered, shrubby to moderate-sized palm. Individual stems 1–2(–3) m, 8–15 mm diam. (without leaf sheath remnants), often rhizomatous basally. Leaves 8–20 in crown; leaf sheath 5–12 cm long; petiole 15–30 cm long, 0.3–0.5 cm across; blade 1/2–4/5-circular in outline, flattened to open funnel-shaped, darker and more glossy green above, up to 50 diam., evenly split to 1–9 cm from hastula, in 5–12, 15–27-folded segments. Male and female inflorescences similar, branched to 2 orders, to 25–35 cm long, basalmost rachis bract conspicuously inflated, rachis 5–10(–15) cm long with two first order branches, rachillae 5–15, 15–60(–100) mm long. Flowers 3–4 mm long, different sexual types of flowers similar, calyx regularly lobed, often with striate pigmentation, male and hermaphroditic flowers clearly longer than the female ones. Fruit ellipsoid to ovoid, 8–12 mm diam., borne on an c. 0.5 mm long receptacular stalk. (Palms of Thailaand)
Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'laosensis'; Conservation: Although extremely common locally, this species is vulnerable to unsustainable land development. (Palms of Thailaand)
Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'laosensis'; Taxon biology: Restricted distribution in E and NE Thailand. Very common in Nong Phok district (Roi Et province) in the forest surrounding the Phra Maha Chedi Chai Mongkol temple. Distinguished by the leaves split to about half way, the somewhat hooded segments and the inflated inflorescence bracts. (Palms of Thailaand)
Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'laoensis' is another single sex species, only these are all females. This is easily the rarest species of the ‘common' species in cultivation, and is for me the finickiest of them all, never looking good in our southern California climate. It is a relatively small palm, growing maybe 6 feet tall at the most, and only forming narrow clumps of very thin-stemmed plants. Leaves are typically divided into 2 or 3 leaflets (sometimes a few more) with bluntly pointed tips. This species is easily the wimpiest of the above Rhapis in terms of cold tolerance, only barely tolerating temps below freezing. It is also needs water at all times, and develops brown tips if the water quality is poor or loaded with salts. (Geoff Stein)
Rhapis cochinchinensis var. 'laoensis' A dwarf palm, native to Laos and northeastern Thailand, where it grows in the understorey of humid forests. The loosely clustering, thin canelike stems rarely grow taller than 1 m (3 ft.) and are densely clothed in tightly sheathing, fibrous leafbases. The palmate leaves are a beautiful, deep glossy green and have only two to five broad, recurving segments. A truly delightful palm for the tropical and warm temperate garden that also makes a great indoor plant. Unfortunately is very rarely seen in cultivation. (RPS.com)
Rhapis cochinchinensis Dimorphism. Rhapis cochinchinensis (< laosensis) Dimorphism ♂♀ The habit of female and male inflorescence shows a distinct dimorphism. The first signs of the prophyll I noticed on 2016-05-18 for the female and one month later on 2016-06-16 for the male inflorescence. The present stage looks like this: 01 The different stages of male and female inflorescence today. 02 The two palms: taller male plant and clustering (3 stems) female. Photo & notations by Research Work Editor Pal Meir.
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
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).
Hastings, L.2003. A Revision of Rhapis, the Lady Palms. Palms 47(2) 62-78.
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.