Kentiopsis oliviformis

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Kentiopsis (Kent-ee-OHP-sis) oliviformis (oh-lee-VIH-form-miss)
Cultivated at Noumea, New Caledonia. Photo by Dr. Jean-Christophe Pintaud/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Kentiopsis (Kent-ee-OHP-sis)
Species: oliviformis (oh-lee-VIH-form-miss)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Miraguama Palm

Habitat and Distribution

Restricted to central New Caledonia at low elevations (10-300 m.), from Farino
Very rare three headed specimen, Boghen, New Caledonia.
to Col des Roussettes on the west side, and from Canala (not recently seen) to Kouaoua on the east side., on volcanic rocky substrate, of ultrmafique sediment. Ecology: A gregarious species, Kentiopsis oliviformis is an emergent tree in transitional, semi humid Aleurites forest only, where it occurs on schists and basalts often mixed with serpentine colluvium. In valley bottoms in the Tindéa-Boghen area, there are numerous populations, each nearly forming a pure stand of 0.1-1 hectares, (usually on flat land along a temporary stream)or within which there is no regeneration due to continuous leaf fall from tall (25-30 m.), mature trees. Regeneration occurs only on the periphery of each stand, where mature trees are more widely spaced. Mature trees become even more widely spaced, farther out from the center of each population then disappear altogether or on adjacent hillsides and valley slopes. In the Koh region of Kouaoua under a more humid climate, but also around Farino, K. oliviformise scapes from valley bottoms and is scattered on well-drained hilly slopes. (J.-C. Pintaud and D. Hodel. 1998)/Palmweb.


A large solitary palm over 30 m. in height, 25 cm. in diam. flared at the base. Crown holds 8 to 10 erect leaves, 3 m. long, with numerous pinnae, (40-55) on each side, a (10 cm.) short, bright, and glabrous petiole, and a crownshaft 1 m. long, light green, and glabrous outside, pale and flaky inside. Phenology: Inflorescences 1-3, 60 - 68 x 21 cm., erect and spreading, heavily clustered, with a short (7-9 cm.) peduncle; with about a dozen rachillae, covered with brown scales. Fruits 14-17 x 8-9 mm. This is a monoecious palm (bearing both male and female flowers).

Emergent palm. Trunk to 30 m. tall, 25 cm. in diam., gray, base thickened. Leaves 8-10 per crown, ascending to spreading; sheath to 1.1 m. long, initially densely covered with ± concrescent white-translucent appressed trichomes, becoming grayish with age, glabrescent; petiole to 10 cm. long; rachis to 3 m. long, initially with same indument as sheath; pinnae 40-55 on each side, median ones 80-105 X 4-6 cm., basal ones continuing into lorae, all ± drooping, shining dark green adaxially, paler abaxially. Inflorescences erect to ascending, branched to three orders; peduncle 7-10 cm. long; prophyll and first peduncular bract 60-70 X 20 cm., with deciduous brown-centered white-floccose scales, becoming puncticulate; rachis to 35 cm. long, bearing stellate scales; branches about 18, bearing same scales; rachillae to 30 cm. long, ± glabrescent; bracts subtending branches and rachillae low, rounded, ± ruffled. Flowers in triads nearly to apex of rachillae, bract subtending triad prominent, rounded, lip-like; bracteoles surrounding pistillate flowers low, unequal, rounded to pointed, not sepal-like; staminate buds 5.5-6.5 mm. high, very asymmetrical, pointed; stamens 34-37, slightly shorter than petals, filaments 2 mm. long, straight and not attenuate apically, anthers 2.8-3 mm. long, linear, latrorse, emarginate apically, bifid basally, connective elongate, large, black; pistillode nearly as high as stamens, columnar, attenuate to a sometimes briefly trifid apex; pistillate flowers 5.5-7 mm. high, staminodes 3, gynoecium 4.8 X 3.5 mm., ± diamond- shaped. Fruits l4-17 x 8-9 mm., red; stigmatic remains apical; mesocarp with flat fibers adherent to endocarp throughout. Seeds ll-13 X 6 mm., ellipsoid. Leaves of juvenile individuals spirally arranged; "saxophone" style root growth present. (J.-C. Pintaud. 1998)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


They like moderately filtered light when young, full sun when mature (hence the term emergent palm), and lots of water, and a sub-tropical rather than tropical climate. Usually thought to be slow growing, but several plants in south-east Queensland as well as Hawaii, have displayed an impressive growth rate. Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b with canopy when young.

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Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: The specific epithet means olive-shaped, and refers to the shape of the fruits.(J.-C. Pintaud. 1998)/Palmweb.

Phenology: Anthesis occurs from November through December; fruits mature from February through March. Seeds germinate immediately after dispersion.

Conservation: Kentiopsis oliviformis is endangered (Jaffté et al. in press). All populations are in areas under agricultural pressure; none have normal regeneration. In the Tendéa-Boghen area with several populations exceeding 1000 individuals, regeneration is very low due to cattle grazing; dramatic population reduction is expected here. The government of the South Province of New Caledonia has established an experimental, fenced area near Boghen to exclude cattle from one stand of K. oliviformis. However, these measures need to be greatly expanded to protect these and other populations adequately. Clearing of forests and harvesting trees for the edible cabbage or palm heart have much reduced populations near Kouaoua, La Foa, and Bourail. (J.-C. Pintaud and D. Hodel. 1998)

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, 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).

Pintaud, J.-C. & Hodel, D. 1998. A Revision of Kentiopsis, a Genus Endemic to New Caledonia. Principes 42(1) 32-33, 41-53.

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

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