| Rhopaloblaste |
PNG National Botanic Garden, Morobe, Papua New Guinea. Photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Habitat and DistributionRhopaloblaste ceramica Is found on; Maluku, and New Guinea. Widespread
Robust, canopy, solitary palm bearing up to 15 - 17 leaves in the crown. Stem to 35 m tall, 15 - 29 (- 35) cm in diam.; surface slightly rough, brownish grey leaf scars prominent; internodes 12 - 14 cm basally, decreasing to 1 cm distally. Leaf sheath 1.2 - 1.5 m long, pale brownish white, moderately to densely lepidote- tomentose; crownshaft 1.3 - 1.5 m long, about 25 - 40 cm wide, dull-green; petiole 3.5 - 4.5 cm long, shallowly concave on adaxial surface; rachis 3 - 4 m long, with abundant matted dark brown scales on adaxial surface, densely lepidote-tomentose on the abaxial surface, becoming brownish with age; leaflets 111 - 120 each side of rachis, 2.5 - 3 cm apart, in one plane, pendulous, middle leaflet 100 - 112 x 2.3 - 2.5 cm, linear, tapering acutely and bifid at the apex, adaxial surface dark green with dark brown twisted scales near the base of the pinnae and along adaxial surface of midrib, abaxial surface dull green and with some lepidote tomentum. Inflorescence massive, 55 - 130 cm long, with a spread of 1 - 1.5 m, divaricate, branched to 3 orders, primary branches 16, 45 - 75 cm long, with basal pair of primary branches strongly recurved; prophyll 65 - 70 x 10 - 18 cm, dark green, with dense greyish brown indumentum; peduncle 8 - 10 cm long, 7- 10 cm in diam., greyish with some tomentum; robust rachillae 45 - 75 cm long, 4.9 - 7.3 mm in diameter, greyish green; flowers sunken in shallow pits formed by rachilla bracts. Staminate flower symmetric, greenish, 6.5 - 7 mm long, 6.5 - 6.8 mm in diam. at anthesis; sepals 3 - 3.1 x 3.1 - 3.3 mm, broadly elliptic; petals 6 -6.5 x 6.5 - 6.7 mm, broadly elliptic, glabrous; stamens 3.3- 4 mm long, filaments 2- 2.5 mm long, connate at the base, yellowish, anthers 2.1 - 2.3 mm long, 0.9 - 1 mm in diam., elliptic; pistillode conical, 2.3 - 2.5 mm long, 1.2 - 1.3 mm in diam. Pistillate flower slightly asymmetric, 4.3 - 4.7 mm long, 7.6 - 7.9 mm in diam., borne throughout the rachillae; sepals 3.9 - 4 x 3.7 - 3.8 mm, rounded; petals 4.3 - 4.4 x 2.2 - 2.4 mm, elliptic; staminodes usually 4, lobes 0.8 - 0.9 x 0.7 - 0.8 mm; gynoecium 4.3 - 4.9 mm long, 4.2 - 4.5 mm in diam., ovoid. Fruit 30 - 35 mm long, 16 - 18 mm in diam., asymmetric ellipsoid-ovoid, yellow when immature, becoming red at maturity; cupule of persistent perianth 11 - 12 mm long. Seed 21 - 31 mm long, 14 - 16 mm in diam., ellipsoid-ovoid, brown; conspicuous impression over the hilum, testa brown. (R. Banka and W.J. Baker. 2004)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.
Rhopaloblaste ceramica is the largest of all the species in the genus and is easily distinguished by its large asymmetrical fruits, with a substantial cupule of persistent perianth, and the inflorescence branched to three orders with very robust rachillae. Rhopaloblaste ceramica was the first of the species of Rhopaloblaste to be described, based on material collected in 1860 by Teijsmann and de Vriese from Ceram in the Moluccas. Miquel originally placed it in the genus Bentinckia as B. ceramica Miq. Ten years later it was moved to Cyrtostachys (C. ceramica (Miq.) H. Wendl.). In describing the genus Rhopaloblaste in 1876,
Scheffer named R. hexandra based on cultivated material in Bogor Botanic Garden that allegedly originated from Bacan, also in the Moluccas. Beccari (1885, Martelli 1935) considered R. hexandra and B. ceramica as synonymous, a conclusion that was accepted by Burret (1928), who was responsible for combining the earlier epithet with Scheffer's genus Rhopaloblaste, and Moore (1970). An old specimen, annotated as R. hexandra and said to be from Bacan, but lacking a date, is in the Bogor herbarium. It cannot be interpreted as the type because Scheffer did not refer to the material in the protologue and there is inadequate information on the specimen for us to infer that he had access to it. However, the placement of R. hexandra in synonymy with R. ceramica cannot be disputed on account of the excellent photograph and diagnostic plate published with the protologue. In the absence of original material, the diagnostic plate is designated as lectotype here. Subsequently, Burret (1940) described R. micrantha based on two collections from Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea, Clemens 7987 from Kalasa and Clemens 8297 (type) from Boana. These specimens were presumably destroyed in Berlin and duplicates have not been located. Moore (1970) recognised that R. micrantha Burret was a later homonym of Rhopaloblaste micrantha (Becc.) Hook. f. ex B. D. Jacks. (=Ptychosperma micranthum Becc.) and accordingly published a new name R. dyscrita H. E. Moore (dyskritos = doubtful). He was unable to link the concept to any earlier name because authentic material of the Clemens collection was not available and he was unable to match Burret's description with the species that he knew. Burret's protologue of R. dyscrita, as R. micrantha Burret, suggests that it closely resembled R. ceramica, differing only in its spreading pinnae and smaller staminate flowers. After examining the material of R. ceramica, including recent collections made since the publication of Moore's work, and comparing it with the description of R. dyscrita, we are tentatively placing R. dyscrita in synonymy with R. ceramica, because both have large fruits and robust inflorescences branching to three orders. If this synonymy proves to be correct, it dramatically alters the distribution pattern of the species as understood from material named with certainty, extending its range considerably to the east. New material is required from the type locality of the Clemens collections to confirm this decision. (R. Banka and W.J. Baker. 2004)/Palmweb.
Comments and Curiosities
Uses: The shoot apex is edible. The wood is used for arrowheads and floorboards for houses. Occasionally cultivated as an ornamental.
"Attractive sillouhette palm from the Mollucas islands, where it grows to 60' tall.. has 10' leaves with 3' long pendant leaflets. Crownshaft supposedly silver, but who can tell, the palms are so tall." (Geoff Stein)
Rhopaloblaste ceramica; Tropical rainforests on the island of Ceram in eastern Indonesia are home to this elegant, slender palm that sports a smooth, trunk to about 15 m (50 ft.) tall, a long crownshaft and stiffly spreading leaves with long, pendulous leaflets. It is an easy and fast growing palm for the tropics and quite popular in cultivation in southern Asia. (RPS.com)
"My pair of Ceram Palms (Rhopaloblaste ceramica) have fruited again. The fruits are now ripe and are attracting birds. A large flock of juvenile Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) suddenly converged onto the palms. Most were just perching on the fronds and fruit branches, a few pecking on the ripe fruits." Photo by YC Wee.
- 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.
Banka, R. & Baker, W.J. 2004. A Monograph of the Genus Rhopaloblaste (Arecaceae). Kew Bulletin, Vol. 59, No. 1, pp. 47-60.
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.