Pelagodoxa henryana

From Palmpedia - Palm Grower's Guide
Jump to: navigation, search
Pelagodoxa (pehl-ah-go-DOKS-ah)
henryana (hen-ree-AHN-ah)
6646 20120603T193928 0.jpg
North Queensland, Australia. Photo by Karl Gercens III.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Pelagodoxa (pehl-ah-go-DOKS-ah)
henryana (hen-ree-AHN-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Entire, notched at apex, occasional splits.
Survivability index
Common names
Marquesas Palm, Vahani

Habitat and Distribution

Marquesas, Solomon Is., and Vanuatu.
Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mount Coot-tha, Brisbane, Australia. 2014. Photo by Paul Latzias.
There are no known wild populations; there are three documented anthropogenic sites in Vanuatu, Marquesas and Fiji Islands.

It is considered to be native to the Marquesas, an isolated group of islands some 8° south of the Equator in the central Pacific Ocean, where it occurs naturally in very moist, humid valleys as an understorey component. This population is only small and obviously endangered as regeneration has been restricted due to the encroachment of agriculture in the vicinity. Naturalisation of Pelagodoxa henryana has occured in the Solomon Islands, where a cultivated grove near a long abandoned settlement has regenerated. (Palms & Cycads)


Pelagodoxa henryana belongs to the monotypic genus Pelagodoxa (Pelagodoxeae: Arecaceae). It is an unarmed, solitary palm to 11 m height. The stem is up to 15 cm in diam, and the leaf scars are closely spaced. The leaves are large, undivided, pinnately ribbed with a bifid apex, and may extend to 3 m long and to about 1 m wide. The upper surface is green and glabrous, and the lower surface has a distinctive silvery glaucous bloom. The petiole is stout and short, to about 22 cm long. The leaf bases are densely tomentose, do not form a crownshaft but have a loose entanglement of fine fibres along the lower margins. It is monoecious, and the inflorescences are interfoliar, not extending beyond the leaves and paniculately branched. The fruit is globose, with a corky warty epicarp that is tan colored at maturity. Three size cohorts occur that differ mostly in proportion (the two smaller ones ripen with a pulpy, orange, fragrant mesocarp, the largest ripens to a tan fibrous mesocarp): 2.0 cm in diam. (Vanuatu); 5.5 to 6.0 cm in diam. (Fiji); 10 to 15 cm in diam. ( Editing by edric.

Notes: The native names in the Marquesas are enu and vahane. Known only from a single, probably anthropogenic population at Taipivai on Nuku Hiva. On the main islands it is occasionally cultivated near churches and in yards. Butaud (2009) suggested it may represent a Polynesian introduction. Recently prehuman pollen of a palm belonging to Iguanureae (same tribe as Pelagodoxa) was found on several of the Austral islands. P. henryana is tentatively considered indigenous in the Marquesas but extinct in the wild. (Dr. David Lorence)


Pelagodoxa henryana is an exytremely beautiful, somewhat difficult palm to grow but well worth the effort. It is absolutely gorgeous and not overwhelmingly big. It is adapt to the humid tropical climates, but is usually not cultivated. It elegant foliage and small stature make it suitable for a smaller landscape. People who live in colder climates can still enjoy the palms as potted plants. Seed is not often available from cultivated plants. For this reason, it has been an expensive item, normally reserved for collectors. Even in a greenhouse it can be a bit of challenge.

Growth rate: Usually grows relatively fast in favourable tropical climates, with the formation of a trunk commencing after about 6 years.

Soil requirements: It has a fibrous root system and benefits from deep organic, soils that are fertile as long as they are well drained.

Watering: It prefers adequate moisture to look its best. Don't let sit in water. Indoor, potted palms should not be over-watered.

Light: Likes a half-shaded, sheltered position. If home-grown, give some sun as with most tropical palms.

Fertilization: Need a perfect fertilizer diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements three times a year if not grown in rich soil.

Aerosol salt tolerance: It is moderately tolerant, but does a lot better inland then it does on the coast. Hardiness: This palm is tender and is suited for tropical or subtropical climates, and not like cold. Seedling growth arrests below 15° C.

Wind hardiness: It is not tolerant as the fronds tatter easily and requires wind-sheltered spots.

Propagation: The fresh seeds take 4-6 months to germinate. If not properly treated, the seed does not have long shelf life. Shade and abundant moisture for seedlings and juveniles is essential in a very well protected area if the leaves are to retain their fullness, as they are easily split and spoiled by wind and even mild exposure. (

Comments and Curiosities

This is a monotypic genus.

The circuitous route of discovery and documentation of Pelagodoxa and the meandering process of investigating its phylogenetic position are as unique as its morphology and anatomy suggests. Beccari’s assessment of Pelagodoxa being a ‘grande nouveauté’ is still valid, as it remains one of the greatest novelties in the palm family, both morphologically and historically. (J.L. Dowe. 2006)



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.

Back to Palm Encyclopedia

Retrieved from ""