Pinanga simplicifrons

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Pinanga (pih-NAHN-gah)
Photo-Malaysian Biological Diversity
Scientific Classification
Genus: Pinanga (pih-NAHN-gah)
Ptychosperma simplicifrons
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Bifid & pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Borneo, Malaya, Sumatera, and Thailand. Malaysian rainforest. Native to peninsular
The thin Bifid leaf form of Pinanga simplicifrons. Photo by Clayton York, Utopia Palms & Cycads
Malaysia and distributed in the lowland forest in the states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Perak.


Small, clumping palm to about 1.0 m high. Leaves normally entire, although divided on var. 'pinnata'.

Stems clustered, 1.5 m tall, 0.8–1.5 cm in diameter, brown. Leaves pinnate or undivided; sheaths 10–20 cm long, greenish-brown, persisting and disintegrating while still on the stem; petioles 7.5–30 cm long; rachis 0.2–0.3 m long; pinnae 2–4 per side of rachis, or blade undivided, lighter green abaxially, pinnae of pinnate leaves falcate, irregularly arranged, closely spaced, the middle ones to 20 cm long, 5 cm wide. Inflorescences pendulous, covered with persistent prophyll and bursting through the persistent leaf sheaths; peduncles about 1 cm long, 0.3 cm wide; rachis very short or absent; rachillae 1–2, 2–2.5 cm long, zig-zag, flattened in cross-section, glabrous; triads arranged distichously, superficial on the rachillae. Male flowers 7–8 mm long, not pedicellate; sepals forming a 3-lobed cupule, about 2 mm high; petals 6–7 mm long, narrowly triangular, valvate; stamens about 11; female flowers about 2.5 mm long; sepals about 2 mm long, rounded at the apices, ciliate; petals about 2 mm long, ciliate. Fruits ovoid, often curved, to 2 cm long and 1 cm in diameter, red. (Palms of Thailand) Editing by edric.


Warm, sheltered, and moist. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10b

Comments and Curiosities

There are two subspecies, Pinanga simplicifrons var. 'simplicifrons'; simple-leaved carpet-forming palm, rarely more than 1 m tall, found in Borneo, Malaya, Sumatera, and Thailand. Pinanga simplicifrons var. 'pinnata' (pin-NAHT-a), found only in Malaya.

This very ornamental dwarf species from S. Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia (Sumatra) produces multiple thin canes, and beautiful undivided and bifid or occasionally sparsely pinnate leaves, that are about a foot long. An excellent and very rare plant for the understorey of tropical or warm subtropical gardens. (

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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