Licuala poonsakii

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Licuala (lik-oo-AH-lah)
poonsakii (poon-SAHK-ee)
Licuala poonsakii inflorescence.JPG
Former Sullivan Garden. The Big Island Hawaii. Photo by Paul Craft
Scientific Classification
Genus: Licuala (lik-oo-AH-lah)
poonsakii (poon-SAHK-ee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary & clustering.
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names
Poonsak's Fan Palm

Habitat and Distribution

Thailand. Photo by Chalermchart Soorangura.


Solitary or clustered and/or gregarious understory palm to 6 m tall, if forming clumps then usually of 1 tall plant and several small ones at base. Stem 3-5 cm in diam. without sheaths and obscurely ringed, 5-8 cm in diam. with sheaths. Leaves 15-20, palmately divided, spreading; petiole 1 m long, armed only in basal 25 cm with stubby thorns, these backward-curved, 3 mm long, set ca. 8 mm apart on lateral margins; blade 70- 90 cm wide, orbicular, divided to base into 10 segments, middle or lateral ones largest, to 46 x 8 cm wide, truncately praemorse, 9-nerved, distinctly toothed, lobes 6 mm high, other segments decreasing slightly in size toward petiole, these 30-40 x 3-5 cm, truncately praemorse,3-5-nerved. Inflorescences interfoliar, equalling or slightly exceeding leaves, to 1.5 m long, spreading, peduncle to 50 cm long; inflorescence bearing 7 partial inflorescences in apical 2/3, each a simple unbranched rachilla and each subtended by its own bract, these tubular and closely sheathing in basal half, conspicuously inflated in apical half, lower partial inflorescences about 20 cm apart, decreasing to 5 cm apart at apex of inflorescenge, lowest rachilla to 15 cm long, uppermost to 5 cm long, each rachilla only narrowly diverging from inflorescence rachis, bracts, rachis, and rachillae densely covered with deciduous brownish felt-like indument, that of rachillae especially thick and with tightly appressed white hairs. Flowers seen just past anthesis, 10 x 4 mm, bullet-shaped; calyx 4 x 3 mm, shallowly lobed, lobes rounded; corolla about 2 1/2 times as high as calyx, petals 8 x 2.75 mm, long-ovate, acute, boat-shaped; staminal ring 2-3 mm high, about 2 times height of ovary, stamens 6, filaments short, about half the height of petals, anthers 1. 75 mm long; pistil 2.5 x 2.5 mm, globular, glabrous, truncate apically, style 3-4 mm long, slender, nearly equalling petals. Fruits seen immature, 8 x 6 mm, +/- oblong, green, sessile or on a short pedicel, just exceeding perianth, said by local people to be 10-13 x 7-8 mm long, oblong, and red when mature; fruiting perianth 1 cm long, 8 mm wide at tip, calyx 4-5 mm high, sepals connate in basal 1/2-2/3, lobes acute apically but often splitting and tattering into numerous narrow truncate segments, petals 1 cm long, long-ovate, acute, spreading around base offruit, perianth with similar indument as rachillae only thicker on calyx than on corolla. ( Editing by edric.

The epithet honors Poonsak Vatcharakorn, cocollector of the type, and plant and seed collector for Kampon Tansacha. Poonsak probably knows the forests of Thailand as well or better than anyone; his extensive knowledge of the palms and their habitats has proven invaluable in preparing the book on Thai palms and cycads. Licuala poonsakii is closest to L. acutifida but the latter differs in it smaller habit, leaf blades with smaller segments and fewer nerves, shorter inflorescence with fewer rachillae, ovoid flowers with shorter petals and an apically truncated ovary with a very long style reaching nearly to the tips of the petals. L. poonsakii occurs in moist hill forest in southeastern Thailand. (


Tropical Moist Forest, Cold Hardiness Zone: 10b

Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: The specific epithet honors Poonsak Vatcharakorn, cocollector of the type, and plant and seed collector for Kampon Tansacha. A native of rainforests in southeast Thailand, this smallish palm forms a solitary or lightly clustering stem that holds a crown of ascending, deeply divided, fan shaped leaves with a few, broad segments. It grows best in a shady spot in the tropical garden. (

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).

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

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