Heterospathe brevicaulis

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brevicaulis (brev-ih-KAW-liss)
Heterospathe brevicaulis.jpg
NSW, Australia. Photo by Luke Nancarrow.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Heterospathe
brevicaulis (brev-ih-KAW-liss)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to the Philippines, Luzon (Aurora Prov.), In lowland stream valley
Photo & Garden Bo Lundkvist.
forest with large boulders; about 50 m. elev.


Solitary, short-stemmed, undergrowth palm to 2.5 m tall. Stem erect to 50 cm long, c. 8 cm. in diam.; internodes to 1.5 cm long. Leaves pinnate, to 8 in crown; young leaves reddish-brown; leaf including petiole and sheath to 2 m long, sheaths not forming a well-defined crownshaft, each to 17 cm long, fibrous and marcescent; petiole yellowish-green, c. 70 x 1.5 cm, deeply channelled adaxially, the edges sharply angled, convex abaxially and sparsely puncticulate; sheath and petiole persistent on the stem; mid-rachis triangular, sharply angled adaxially, flattened to convex abaxially, very sparsely puncticulate. Leaflets to 33 on each side of the rachis, unicostate, regularly arranged, spaced to 4 cm apart, long-acuminate, with prominently elevated mid-costa and distinct secondary nerves, the margins slightly thickened; ramenta prominent along midrib on undersurface; basal leaflets c. 22 x 0.9 cm; middle leaflets c. 50 x 2.8 cm; apical leaflets c. 24 x 1.2 cm. Inflorescence interfoliar, usually ascending, to 50 cm long, branching to 2 orders; peduncle c. 28 x 0.8 x 0 - 4 cm, densely covered with brown lepidote-tomentose scales, the surface drying striate; prophyll c. 38 x 2 cm, tubular, 2-keeled laterally, and splitting abaxially and apically, the surface brown-puncticulate; peduncular bract attached below middle of peduncle, to c. 34 x 1.5 cm, caducous; only up to 2 basal first-order branches further branching with 2 rachillae, others as rachillae, c. 7-11, arranged spirally along axis, each c. 24 x 0.3 cm, terete, covered with brown lepidote- tomentose scales as peduncle; triads borne spirally along rachilla and subtended by low, lip-like bracts. Staminate flower oblong, 4 x 2.5 mm, yellowish; sepals 3, broadly imbricate, much shorter than the petals, 1.5 x 2 mm; petals 3, valvate, unequal, striate when dry, acute at tip, 3.5 x 1.5 mm; stamens 6, anthers dorsifixed, 1 mm long, filaments white, 2 mm long; pistil 2 mm long; pistillode conical, 2 x 1 mm. Pistillate flower rounded in bud, shorter than the staminate flower, 2.5 x 2 mm; sepals 3, broadly imbricate, rounded, ciliolate along the margins, 2.25 x 1.5 mm; petals 3, imbricate at base, rounded with acute tips, 2 x 1.5 mm; pistil ovoid-conical 2 x 1 mm; staminodes minute, tooth-like, borne at base of pistil. Infructescence with slightly arching rachillae. Fruits spirally arranged in up to 5 lax series, ripening yellow then red, ovoid, c. 8 x 6 mm, stigmatic residue obliquely apical, epicarp drying granulose with sclerosomes. Seed ovoid, 3.5 x 3 mm, with prominent hilum; endosperm ruminate. (E.S. Fernando. 1990)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

This species is superficially similar to H. intermedia in leaf and inflorescence features, but is easily distinguished by its short-stemmed habit, the persistent leaf sheaths and petioles on the stem, and the generally shorter and much more slender rachillae and smaller fruits. (E.S. Fernando. 1990)/Palmweb.


Comments and Curiosities

This is a tillering palm, it exhibits saxophone style root growth (it has a heel), keep top third of heel above soil elevation!

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).

Fernando, E.S.1990. The genus Heterospathe (Palmae: Arecoideae) in the Philippines. Kew Bulletin, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 219-234.

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

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