Licuala rumphii

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Licuala (lik-oo-AH-lah)
rumphii (ruhm'-fee)
NSW., Australia. Photo by Luke Nancarrow.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Licuala (lik-oo-AH-lah)
rumphii (ruhm'-fee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names
koal (Indonisian), Celebes fan palm, Lontar tree.

Habitat and Distribution

Sulawesi (Celebes), and the Moluccas in Indonesia.
Photo by Flora Mata Atlantica


A medium sized, tightly clumped fan palm, that develops slim trunks to about 3 m tall. The numerous, large, semi-circular to circular leaves are made up of 6 to 10 wedge-shaped sections.

A pleonanthic, small, usually multi-stemmed palm up to 4 m tall. Leaves palmate; sheath fibrous; blade forming a 3/4 to entire circle, incised almost to the base into 12-15, 4-7-veined, narrowly cuneate segments with emarginate apex, larger segments up to 100 cm x 7-12 cm. Inflorescence interfoliar; lateral axes few, bearing 3-4 digitately arranged thick spikes 12-15 cm long; peduncle with a tubular prophyll and several tubular peduncular bracts; flowers bisexual, sessile; calyx connate, 3-fid, glabrous; corolla deeply 3-fid, 1.5 times as long as the calyx, with distinct grooves and ridges inside; stamens 6, filaments connate to form a 3-lobed tube, each lobe with a bifid apex; pistil 3-carpellate, glabrous, united distally to form a single exserted style. Fruit a glossy red drupe with the remains of the style at the apex. (Plant Resources of South-East Asia) Editing by edric.


Tropical Moist Forest, Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

Uses: The young leaves used to wrap cigarettes, for which purpose bundles of leaf segments were soaked in hot water, bleached in the sun, and pounded and smoothed out on a heated pot until they became white. Fine strips of the young leaves were sometimes mixed with opium, probably because of their odour. The broadest central segments are used to wrap fruits and other food. (Plant Resources of South-East Asia)

This plant is mentioned in the Ambonese Herbal, a 1657 catalogue of medicinal plants of Ambon, an island in the archipelago of present-day Indonesia. It was a guide to 1,300 plants used to treat diseases in 17th-century Indonesia, which was compiled by an employee of the Dutch East Indies Company. It says L. rumphii was used to treat tuberculosis and colitis, and modern day medical researchers are now looking at it as a possible source for antibiotic, antidiarrheal, and anti-infective drugs. (PACSOA)

A moderately sized, densely clustering fan palm from Sulawesi (Celebes) and the Moluccas in Indonesia that will grow slender stems to about 3 m (10 ft.) tall. The numerous, big leaves are semicircular to circular in outline and have only six to ten large, wedge-shaped segments. The Celebes Fan Palm does well in both shade and full sun in a tropical or frost-free subtropical climate. Its robustness and reasonable size make it an ideal palm for the home 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).

Van der Vossen, H.A.M. and Wessel, M. (Editors). 2000. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 16 Stimulants. Backhuys Publisher, Leiden, the Netherlands. p. 131.

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

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