Pritchardia kaalae

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Pritchardia (pritch-AHR-dee-ah)
kaalae {kah-AHL-eh)
McBryde Garden, Koloa, Hawaii. Photo by Dr. P. Gotra
Scientific Classification
Genus: Pritchardia (pritch-AHR-dee-ah)
kaalae {kah-AHL-eh)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Hawaii. Moist forest in valleys or on exposed ridges in the northern and
On the ridgeline above the Makua Valley Military Reservation on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii. Photo by Magnus Manske
northwestern Waianae Mountains, Oahu, 450--980 m elevation. Also known as loulu palm, is a species of palm tree that is endemic to the western part of the island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi, found only on the ridgelines above the Makua Valley Military Reservation on the Island of Oahu. The success of the Oahu Natural Resource Program in managing species like Pritchardia is directly tied to the success of military training in Hawaii. The Army’s live-fire training areas on Oahu are used by more than 20,000 soldiers, Marines, Airforce, Navy, National Guard, and local police departments for training. Growing near springs in the dry forests on the Waiʻanae Range at elevations up to 2,500 feet (760 m), this slow growing species reaches a height of 25 feet (7.6 m), with a trunk diameter of 1 foot (0.30 m).


To 10 m tall; proximal margins of petioie with only a few fibers; ieaf blade slightiy undulate, divided 1/3-1/2, abaxial surface incompieteiy covered with scattered lepidia, segment tips stiff to drooping; inflorescences composed of 1-3 panicles, equaling to exceeding leaf blades in flower, exceeding leaf blades in fruit, panicles branched to 2 orders, rachiIlae glabrous; fruits 25 x 25 mm, globose. (Hodel, D. 2007)/Palmweb.

Among the Hawaiian species, Pritchardia kaalae is distinctive in its leaf blades incompletely covered abaxially with lepidia and inflorescences equaling or exceeding the leaf blades in flower and exceeding them in fruit. The other Hawaiian species with exceedingly long inflorescences, P. hardy; and some forms of P. martii, differ in their leaf blades compietely covered abaxiaily with lepidia. Pritchardia thurstonii, a South Pacific species, has leaf blades incompletely covered abaxially with lepidia and inflorescences exceeding the leaf blades; however, it differs in its flat leaf blades only shallowly divided and with stiff segment tips, lepidia conspicuously arranged in parallel lines, and smaller fruits. (Hodel, D. 2007)/Palmweb.

Pritchardia kaalae var. minima: Palm about 5 metres high. The leaves are dark green, very large with drooping points, smooth above but waxy glaucous and closely dotted below with rusty scales. The lower costae are clothed in tawny fawn felt. This species is amongst the most attractive of the genus, especially as a seedling. The inflorescence, (similar to P. hardyi), is up to 2 meters in length. The fruits are smooth globose around 20 mm diameter with seeds 12-15 mm in diameter.


Comments and Curiosities

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).

Hodel, D. 2007.

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

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