Livistona mariae

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Livistona (liv-iss-TOH-nah)
mariae (mar-EE-eh)
Lm285510565 eb5281c488 o.jpg
Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park, Australia. Photo by Volker Wurst
Scientific Classification
Genus: Livistona (liv-iss-TOH-nah)
mariae (mar-EE-eh)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names
Central Australian fan palm, Central Australian cabbage palm, Palm Valley Livistona.

Habitat and Distribution

Northern Territory, Queensland, Australia. Northern Territory. Endemic to the Finke R. system in the Macdonnell Ranges. The entire range of this palm tree falls within Finke Gorge National Park.
Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park, Australia. Photo by Michael J. Barritt
Grows along creek lines and watercourses with a permanent shallow water supply, and in sandstone gorges, at 600-650 m alt. The total population includes about 2000 mature individuals confined to Palm Valley and Little Palm Ck.


Functionally dioecious palm. Trunk to 30 m tall, 30-40 cm in diam. breast high, leaf scars stepped, raised, internodes broad, grey, petiole stubs persistent only in the basal 1 m or so. Leaves 30-50 in a globose crown; petiole erect to arching, 150-250 cm long, 20-45 mm wide, adaxially ridged, margins with small, single, curved, black spines in the proximal portion, smooth distally; leafbase fibres moderately prominent, coarse, persistent; lamina costapalmate, regularly segmented, circular in outline, 100-220 cm in diam, rigidly coriaceous, adaxially grey green, glossy, abaxially lighter grey green, waxy pruinose; lamina divided for 45-55% of its length, with 50-86 segments, depth of apical cleft 45-65% of the segment length, apical lobes attenuate, pendulous, proximal margins of outer segments with small spines; parallel veins 7-9 each side of the midrib; transverse veins thinner than parallel veins. Inflorescences unbranched at the base, not sexually dimorphic, 125- 250 cm long, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, branched to 4 orders; partial inflorescences 10-14; peduncular bract 1, loosely tubular with dense white-grey scales; rachis bracts loosely tubular with dense white scales; rachillae 3-8 cm long, pliable to flexuose, glabrous. Flowers in clusters of 3-6, campanulate, 1.0-1.8 mm long, greenish cream to yellow; sepals ovate, 0.8-1 mm long, membranous, bluntly acute; petals broadly oblong, 1.2-1.5 mm long, acute; stamens about 1.2 mm long. Fruit globose, 12-18 mm diam., semi-glossy black; epicarp with scattered lenticellular pores; suture line extends for about ¾ the length of the fruit, marked with lip-like structures; mesocarp fibrous; endocarp thin, crustaceous. Seed globose, 8-12 mm wide. Eophyll 3-ribbed. (Dowe, J.L.)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b

Comments and Curiosities

This is a dioecious genus.

Phenology: Flowers Jul-Dec; fruits Nov-Feb.

"Though once mature this palm looks pretty much like most other Australian Livistonas, with the naked trunks, drooping leaflet tips and full crowns of deeply split fan leaves, as a juvenile, this palm has a good deal of color unique to this palm. Seedlings in full sun are nearly red, or at least maroon. This color diminishes from the leaves first, then the petioles before the plant forms a trunk. It is a relatively fast grower, and pretty hardy here in So Cal. There are several 'varieties' of this species, the most well known being Livistona 'rigida' (some consider that a separate species, and some do not) but I personally can't tell them apart. Recent research (2005) has elevated the 'varieties' to species status- so Livistona rigida and occidentalis are now separate species." (Geoff Stein)

"New genetic analyses find that Livistona mariae arrived only 15,000 years ago. The red cabbage palm's closest relative, the Mataranka palm Livistonia rigida, grows in two areas 800 to 1000 kilometers to the north on either side of the Gulf of Carpentaria—too far away, it would seem, for these species to be anything but distant relations. However, a 2010 study led by Australian biologists, including Bowman, and colleagues at Kyoto University in Japan found that L. mariae was genetically identical to L. rigida."

The young plants of this lovely palm from Central Australia have brilliant red leaves when grown in full sun. Tough and adaptable, it is easily grown from seed and tolerates drought and moderate frosts. (

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).

Dowe, J.L., A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae). A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae).

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

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