Pritchardia mitiaroana

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Pritchardia (pritch-AHR-dee-ah)
mitiaroana (mih-tee-ah-roh-AHN-ah)
3. Pritchardia mitiaroana: group of palms in makatea scrtb. (Photographs by Yves Ehrhart.)
Scientific Classification
Genus: Pritchardia (pritch-AHR-dee-ah)
mitiaroana (mih-tee-ah-roh-AHN-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names
Iniao/Niao (MT); Other Polynesian - Piu (TON), Niu Piu (SAM); COMMENT: Iniao, son of Einiao, planted the first cultivated Niao Palm, however today the Palm is usually known as Iniao. Mitiaro Fan-Palm (Eng.)

Habitat and Distribution

Moist forest on rough karst limestone, Mitiaro Island of the Cook Islands, and
1. Pritchardia mitiaroana: the main population on Mitiaro, Cook Islands. (Photographs by Yves Ehrhart.)
Makatea and Niau islands of the Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia, 5-100 m elev. On Mitiaro, Pritchardia mitiaroana occurs as scattered, dense colonies, the under story of which is completely covered with a thick layer of dead, fallen leaves of the palms. (Hodel, D. 2007)/Palmweb.


Pritchardia mitiaroana is a solitary, rather robust, stocky, fan palm. It is bisexual and flowers for a number of years (pleonanthic) instead of flowering once and dying. Trunk: 4-6(-10) m tall, slightly ventricose, widening to 30-35 cm diam. at 1.5 m above the ground, tappering above, grey brown, obscurely ringed with leaf scars, smooth or with irregular shallow vertical fissures and emitting a hollow, resonating, drum-like sound when sharply struck. Crown: Comprising 16-23 expanded leaves in terminal cluster, the leaves held stiffly. Leaves: Petiole 80-90 cm long clasping the stem, the margins smooth, the surfaces somewhat waxy, glabrous; leaf base fibrous. Lamina bright green, briefly costapalmate, slightly undulate, 100-110 cm long with 60-66 folds in leaves of mature palms, the blade split to ca. 30 cm deep into stiff or slightly drooping segment, the segments ca. 5.5 cm wide. Upper surface glabrous, underneath covered surface abundantly but incompletely covered with in a thin layer of white wax and punctiform dark brown scales. Inflorescences (Panicles): Infrafoliar, somewhat lax, shorter than or about equaling petioles in flower and fruit, branching to 3-4 orders. 10-12 inflorescences and infructescences present at the same time (appearing one after the other during several months, with apparently no flow-ering during the cool season). Peduncle ca. 60 cm long white tomentose. Rachis somewhat zig-zag. Rachillae scarcely crowded, pale yellowish-green, up to 10 cm long, about 2 mm in diam, glabrous, bearing solitary flowers about 4 mm apart. Fruit: Globose, smooth, glabrous, green becoming brownish-black to 7 mm across, borne on the persistent calyx. Style and carpel remains apical. Seed: 5.5 mm across, brown. ( Editing by edric.

Solitary, rather robust, stocky, pleonanthic hermaphroditic fan palm. Stem at maturity 4-6 m tall, slightly ventricose, widening to 30-35 cm in diam. at 1.5 m above the ground, then tapering slightly to about 25 cm in diam. at 2.5 m height, diameter then constant to the base of the crown, the stem surface grey brown, obscurely ringed with leaf scars, smooth or with irregular shallow vertical fissures in young palms or near the stem apex. Crown comprising 16-23 expanded leaves, one leaf three-quarters expanded, a sword leaf and two or more dying or dead leaves, juvenile palms (up to 3.5 m tall) with about 16 leaves, adult palms (up to 5 m tall) with 23 leaves, the leaves held stifly; petiole 80-90 cm long, about 20 cm wide at the base, the base clasping the stem, tapering to 6 x 1.2 cm at about 50 cm above the base, tapering gradually to 3 x 1 cm at the insertion of the blade, the margins smooth, the surfaces somewhat waxy, glabrous; leaf base fibrous, terminating in a triangular ligule about 50 cm above the base, the fibres soft, pale grey brown; adaxial hastula bluntly triangular,4 x 3 cm, + symmetrical, abaxial hastula absent; leaf-blade bright green, briefly costapalmate, 100-110 cm long at the mid-point, held + flat or folded into a shallow "m",


Comments and Curiosities

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.

Conservation: Globally endangered (seriously). Comment: Known from about 500 plants in a very restricted area in the southwest makatea scrubland of Miti‘āro. (

KEY FEATURES: Solitary palm. STEM smooth without scars, to 6 m, 35 cm. LEAVES 25 in terminal cluster; stalk 90 cm, smooth margin, tapering; BLADE bright green, 110 cm long, 65 folds, split inward 30 cm. INFLOR: to 1 m, branching. FLOWERS bisexual, small, 3 mm. FRUITS round, to 7 mm, brownish-black. SEED 5 mm, brown. (

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).

Dr. John Dransfield and Dr. Yevs Ehrart

Hodel, D. 2007.

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

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