Licuala spinosa

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Licuala (lik-oo-AH-lah)
spinosa (spih-NO-sah)
Licuala spinosa specimen3.jpg
Nong Nooch Botanic Gardens, Pattaya, Thailand. Photo by Paul Craft.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Licuala (lik-oo-AH-lah)
spinosa (spih-NO-sah)
Licuala horrida
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names
Mangove Fan Palm, Spiny Licuala

Habitat and Distribution

Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Licuala spinosa specimen in habitat, Thailand. Photo by Paul Craft.
Sumatra,Java, Borneo. Andaman Is., Cambodia, Hainan, Jawa, Malaya, Myanmar, Nicobar Is., and Sumatera. Habitat: Open, slightly swampy ground, lowland alluvial forest, peat and mangrove swamp forest, beach forest, primary forest. Water Loving Palm found in coastal areas.


Licuala spinosa is a densely clumping palm of medium height, with slender stems and heads of circular, divided fan leaves. It is common in cultivation and may reach 3-4 m height. Known as the spiny Licuala because the leafstalk are savagely armed with many tiny, pointed spines. Trunk: Multiple, suckering, slim, 3 to 4 (or more) m tall and about 23 mm across. Crown: Dense (to 4 metres in diameter) of about 15 to 17 fan-shaped leaves. Leaves (fronds): Peltate-orbicular, dark green, about 50-65 cm long, about 80-150 cm wide, segment about 14-19, all rather the same size with squared-off ends; central segment slightly larger than rest, splitted in two (half to 5-7 cm toward leaf base), sometimes petiolulate, with about 8-14 ribs, 52-65 cm long, 20-23 cm wide. Petioles to 2 m long, margins armed with black thorn, 10-20 mm near base, 5-10 mm toward apex, green to yellow brownish; spines along whole length of petiole, triangular largest near base. Sheaths disintegrating into coarse reticulate fibers with dark brown colours. Inflorescences: Upright to pendulous from among the leaf bases, longer than leaves, extend above the crown, with 7-9 partial inflorescences, about 1.5-3 m long, branching to two orders. Flowers: Solitary or in group of 2-4, sessile, densely arranged, cincinni 5-10 per cm, maturing not simultaneously; bud about 4-5 x 2.5-3 mm; Fruit: Globose about 6.5-8.5 long, 6-8 mm in diameter, glabrous, smooth, immature fruit green and orange to red when mature. Seed: Globose, smooth, about 4-6 mm across. (


"This differs markedly from the typical Licualas, in that its cold tolerant, and prefers full sun. It is also like lots of water, and is usually very happy in poorly drained areas". (Mike Gray) Tropical Moist Forest, Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b+

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Comments and Curiosities

Uses: Ornamentals, and decorations, roofing, food-wrappers, walking sticks, binding, making hats, and eaten as vegetables.

One of the most robust species of Licuala, this palm from coastal areas is widespread in south-east Asia. It is fast growing and does well in subtropical and tropical areas. Unlike most other Licuala, it can take full sun and considerable coastal exposure.(

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).

Dransfield, J. 1976. Palms in the every life of west Indonesia. Principes 20: 39-47.

Uhl, N.W. & Dransfield, J. 1987. Genera Palmarum. Lawrence. Allen Press.

Dransfield, J. & Moore, H.E. 1982. The Martian correlation two editions of Martius’ Historia Naturalis Palmarum Compared. Kew Bull 37: 91-116.

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

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