Daemonorops verticillaris

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Genting Highlands, Malaysia. Photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Daemonorops
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary, rarely clustering.
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Rotan Sabong (J. Dransfield. 1979)/Palmweb.

Habitat and Distribution

Daemonorops verticillaris is found in Malaya, Sumatera, and Thailand. Kelantan, Trengganu,
Malaysia. Photo: Malaysian Biological Diversity.
Pahang, Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Johore. Thailand. Sumatra. "Rotan sabong" is one of the commonest Malayan rattans, though absent from the N.W. of the Peninsula. It is found in a wide range of habitats from the margins of swamps in the lowlands to ridgetops at 1000 m or more altitude in the highlands, being found both on hillslopes and in valley bottoms. (J. Dransfield. 1979)/Palmweb.


Very variable, usually solitary rotan, with stems rarely exceeding 15 m in length, often flowering when much less. Stems without sheaths to 2 cm in diameter, with sheaths to 3 cm or more. Internodes rather short rarely more than 12 cm long. Sheaths bright green densely armed with interlocking pairs of collars and single collars of short black horse-hair-like spines, rarely more than 2 cm long intermingled with large laminar yellowish green to blackish spines to 6 cm long; interlocking collars forming galleries inhabited by ants. Dark brown indumentum abundant on young sheaths. Knee present but mostly obscured by spines. Leaf to 3 m long with petiole to 40 cm and cirrus to 1 m. Petiole armed with large reflexed spines in whorls and minute bristles in small groups. Leaflets very regular, close ± 45 to 60 on each side of the rachis, longest leaflets to about 40 cm long by 2.3 cm wide, sparsely bristly on mid-vein and some lateral veins below. Inflorescences male and female superficially similar but male more highly branched. Peduncle short to long, very sparsely armed bracts thin finely black bristly. Male flowers tightly packed, distichous; female flowers much larger but also markedly distichous. Fruit rounded sessile or shortly stalked, at maturity to 15 mm in diameter very shortly beaked, covered in 15 vertical rows of pale straw to red-brown scales, with dull brown marginal lines. Seed rounded, somewhat pitted. Endosperm ruminate. Seedling leaf pinnate with few close-set leaflets. (J. Dransfield. 1979)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Furtado separated the populations from Kelantan and Trengganu as a separate species, D. stipitata on the distinguishing characters: fruit shortly pedicellate, large thorns on sheath blackish and with 3-5 rows of bristles on the leaf underside. However, I have found a whole range of intermediates between the two extremes and feel I cannot justify retaining two species. The variety stramineus was separated from D. verticillaris by Furtado based on the presence of dirty straw coloured rather than reddish fruit scales - here again, such a range of colours is found that the variety is not regarded here as being sufficiently distinct. (J. Dransfield. 1979)/Palmweb.


Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: Verticillaris - whorled, referring to the spine whorls. (J. Dransfield. 1979)/Palmweb.

Uses: Rarely used as a source of a rather poor quality cane. (J. Dransfield. 1979)/Palmweb.

External Links


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).

Dransfield, J. 1997. The Rattans of Brunei Darussalam. Ministry of Industry and primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam.

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

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