Pritchardia gordonii

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Pritchardia (pritch-AHR-dee-ah) gordonii (gohr-dohn'-ee)
Scientific Classification
Genus: Pritchardia (pritch-AHR-dee-ah)
Species: gordonii (gohr-dohn'-ee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Hawaiian Is. Moist to wet forest on very steep slopes, Kohala Mountains, Hawaii,
Floribunda Palms, Hawaii. Photo by Paul Craft.
400-500 m elevation. Pritchardia gordonii is known from only about 23 mature palms in two populations about 100 meters apart. The more southerly population consists of about eight mature palms and several juveniles and seedlings while the northerly population includes about 15 mature palms. (Hodel, D. 2007)


Trunk to 20 m tall, 25 cm in diam., longitudinally grooved, faintly ringed, internodes 7.5-10 cm. Leaves 25-30 per crown, erect to spreading; leaf bases to 50 cm long, 23 em wide proximally, tapering to 7.5 cm wide distally; petioles 75-125 cm long, 7.5 cm wide at base, 3.5-4 cm wide and 1.2 cm thick at blade, convex adaxially, rounded abaxially, margins sharp and proximally with moderate to abundant, tan fibers, densely covered abaxially with whitish, mealy indumentuffi; hastula semicircular, 1.2 cm high, blade 1 x 1.5 m, costapalmate for about 23 cm, deeply divided into about 70 segments, middle-lateral ones the largest, to 92 x 5 cm, free apical portion to 46 cm long, these bifid for 41 cm, tips pendulous, long-acuminate, glossy light green adaxially, light green and sparsely dotted with minute scales abaxially, whitish indumentum on petiole extending onto segment folds abaxially, most proximal segments 46 x 0.5-1 cm, ribbon-like, pendulous. Inflorescences 6-10, interfoliar, to 1.2 m long, arching, slightly shorter than or equaling petioles in flower, equaling or exceeding petioles but shorter than leaf 5-16 blades in fruit, composed of up to 3 long axes each terminating in a panicle, peduncles arising from a common base and sheathed by a common prophyll, middle axis the longest, to 1 m long, each axis rounded, 1.6 cm in diam.; prophyll to 30 cm long, 2-keeled, 5-7 cm wide and 1 cm thick, 1st peduncular bract attached 6 or 7 cm distal of prophyll attachment, to 45 cm long and sheathing the bases of the 3 axes, up to 7 additional peduncular bracts per axis, brown, papery, moderately covered abaxially where protected with scales to 3 mm long, proximal bracts lanceolate, acute, ± tightly sheathing, distal bracts broadly lanceolate, inflated, loosely sheathing, most distal bract the smallest, to 12.5 cm long and equaling second most distal bract, both extending on to and covering about 1/2 of panicle; panicles branched to 2 orders, rachis to 13 cm long, proximal branches with sub-peduncle 2.5-3.5 cm long, sub-rachis 2.5 cm long and with up to 4 rachillae each, distal branches simple rachillae; rachillae to 13 cm long, 2 or 3 mm in diam., terete, strongly flexuose, all parts of panicle glabrous, bracts subtending rachillae and panicle branches 5 x 0.8 mm. Flowers 5-8 mm apart; in bud 10 x 5 mm, at anthesis 12 x 12 mm, yellowish green; calyx 7.5 x 7.5 mm, coriaceolls, sepals imbricate at the apex, mucronate; corolla tubular, greatly exceeding calyx, lobes 8 x 3 mm, lanceolate ?, acute, light green, prominently nerved adaxially, faintly nerved abaxially; staminal tube exserted 2 mm above calyx, stamens spreading, borne on filaments 1.5 mm long, anthers 3-4 mm long, oblong, dorsifixed near base; pistil 7 x 3 mm, spindle-shaped, ovary 3 x 3 mm, style 4 mm long, exserted 5 mm above staminal ring, columnar, tapered apically, bottom of pistil seated 3 mm above bottom of calyx. Fruits 50 x 60 mm, oblate, dark brown to black; mesocarp 13 mm thick; seeds 32 x 32 mm. (Hodel, D. 2007)

Pritchardia gordonii is very similar to P. schattaueri from South Kana, near the opposite end of the island of Hawaii. They share the very tall habit, leaf blades incompletely covered abaxially with lepidia and with pendulous segment tips, glabrous rachillae, and large fruits. Pritchardia schattaueri differs, however, in its leaf blades with broader and less deepiy bifid segment tips (resulting in the tips appearing iess dramaticaily pendulous), inflorescences shorter than or about equaling the petioles, and ionger-than-wide fruits. (Hodel, D. 2007)


Pritchardia gordonii is an easy to grow palm but not often available for the landscape. Pritchardia gordonii vary in shape. Specimens raised in dry and/or infertile soils tend to be smaller in stature with smaller leaves. Light also affects the plant's form while those grown in full sun are more compact. This palm prefers a sunny, well drained, and moist location. Growth rate: It is a slow growing, short stocky palm. Soil: It likes organic soil, but is adaptable to clay and loam bolth slightly alkaline and acidic. Good drainage is also important. Fertilization: Need a perfect fertilizer diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements or slow release fertilizer. Micro-nutrient deficiencies are occasional problems. If it doesn't get enough Mn and Fe (Iron), the leaves take on a rather unhealthy yellow colour. Micro-nutrient deficiencies only show up on soil with a high pH. Fertilize often for faster growth. Water Requirements: Needs regular water, do not let dry out between waterings. however it does not want to sit in continually wet, mucky soil. The roots and lower trunk can rot if soil is kept too moist. Light: Prefers full sun but will tolerate half day sun. Hardiness: It is adapted to tropical and subtropical climates, young plants are more cold sensitive. Maintenance: Remove dead fronds and spent fruiting stalks for a clean landscape appearance. Fronds can be left on the palm to form a skirt for natural settings. Palms recycle nutrients from dead or dying fronds and use them for healthier fronds. Palms only have a set number of new leaves that can sprout and grow per year and removing fronds will not increase that number. If you cut off more than what will grow annually, you could be left with a pretty bare and bald palm. Pest & Disease: Mealybugs and whiteflies underneath the leaves can present problems at times if not kept in check. A generous spray of water can wash them off. Ornamental: It is cultivated as an ornamental tree, and planted in gardens and parks in tropical and sub-tropical climates either as a single specimen or in groups. Culture in containers is possible although growth rates are slower. A bright patio will provide an excellent environment for young specimens which can eventually be planted in a sunny location. (

Comments and Curiosities

Biology And Ecology: Associated genera include Metrosideros, Perrottetia, Tetraplasandra, Urera and Xylosma. (Hodel, D. 2007)

Etymology: Pritchardia name is dedicated to William Thomas Pritchard (1829-1907), British official stationed in Fiji in the 19th Century, British counsul in Fiji, adventurer, and author of Polynesian Reminiscences in 1866. The epithet name honors Rick Gordon, co-collector of the type, who for 40 years has been the ditch man for the Kohala Ditch Company and later the Surety Kohala Corporation that supplied water to sugar cane and other consumers in the Kohala area of Hawaii. More recently Rick has also been responsible for trail and cabin maintenance in the Kohala Forest Reserve for the State of Hawaii, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Since the late 1960s, Rick has been aware of these palms, developed a special fondness for their conservation and protection and brought them to the attention of others. (Hodel, D. 2007)

Conservation: Threats to the survival of Pritchardia gordonii I include rats and invasive, exotic weeds such as strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum), Indian fleabane (Pluchea indica) and assorted grasses. The conservation status of P. gordonii is probably best considered endangered because of the small number of mature palms and the threats to their survival. It is apparently cuitivated in Wahiawa Botanical Garden (HBG 73.0074) of the Honolulu Botanic Gardens system on Oahu from the late Earl Bishop's 1973 collection. (Hodel, D. 2007)

External Links


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.

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

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