Rhopaloblaste elegans

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elegans (EL-eh-ganz)
R. elegans2.jpg
Hawaii. Photo by BGL.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Rhopaloblaste
elegans (EL-eh-ganz)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Dai'e, Fai Dai (Kwara'ae), Auki (Angariru), Elegant Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Rhopaloblaste elegans is found in the Nicobar Islands, Peninsular Malaysia &
Photo by Paul Craft.
Singapore, the Moluccas, New Guinea & the Solomon Islands. In gulley forests between ridges on poor coral and limestone soil, associated with Pometia at an altitude of up to 150 m.


Moderately robust solitary mid-canopy palm bearing up to 10 - 14 leaves in the crown, with a mass of short, stout adventitous roots present at the stem base. Stem to 12 m tall or more, 15 - 20 cm in diam.; surface grey- brown, becoming light grey distally, with chocolate- brown scales on new internodes, leaf scars prominent. Leaf sheath 60 - 70 cm long, light green with dense indumentum of brownish white scales; crownshaft 60 - 80 cm long, 20 - 25 cm wide; petiole short, 5 - 8 cm long, green, concave on adaxial surface, rounded on the abaxial surface; rachis 3 - 3.5 m long, with dense indumentum of shiny brownish black scales and deciduous white tomentum on the adaxial and abaxial surfaces; leaflets 70 - 76 each side of rachis, borne 3 - 5 cm apart, in one plane, semi-spreading, middle leaflet 64 - 68 x 2.7 - 3.4 cm, linear, tapering acutely and bifid at the apex, adaxial surface green, stiff, papery with prominent veins, abaxial surface pale green, with twisted, reddish brown ramenta present along abaxial surface of the mid-veins, dense black membranous scales as on rachis on adaxial surface of mid-veins near base of the pinnae, less dense on the abaxial surface. Inflorescence 30 - 45 cm long, branched to 2 orders, primary branches 15 - 16, up to 40 cm long, basal pair of primary branches strongly recurved; prophyll 35 - 40 x 5 - 6 cm, brown-silky- tomentose; peduncle 6 - 8 cm long, 6 - 7 cm in diam., orange-green basally and then green distally; rachillae slender, 30 - 35 cm long, 3.2 - 3.9 mm in diam., dull green. Staminate flower slightly assymmetric, 6 - 7 mm long, 4 - 4.5 mm in diam. at anthesis; sepals 2 - 2.5 x 3 - 3.5 mm, rounded; petals 5 - 6 x 3 - 3.5 mm, broadly elliptic; stamens 4.5 - 5 mm long, filaments 2 - 2.5 mm long, connate at the base, anthers 3.6 - 3.8 mm long, 0.9 - 1 mm diam.; pistillode ovoid-conical, 2.5 - 3.2 mm long, 1 - 1.2 mm in wide at the base. Pistillate flower 5 - 5.8 mm long, 4 - 4.3 mm in diam. at anthesis; sepals 3 - 3.3 x 5 - 5.5 mm; petals 3.5 - 4 x 2.5 - 3 mm, broadly elliptic; staminodes 4, lobes 0.9 - 1 x 0.8 - 0.9 mm, united at the base; gynoecium 3.5 - 4 mm long, 2.8 - 3.5 mm in diam., ovoid. Fruit 25 - 26 mm long, 20 - 23 mm in diam., globose, yellowish green to orange when immature, with cupule of persistent perianth 4.5 - 5 mm long. Seed 17 - 21 mm long, 18 - 20 mm in diam., globose, brownish, with conspicuous impression over hilum; testa brown. (R. Banka and W.J. Baker. 2004)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

R. elegans is easily distinguished from other species by its large globose fruits, slender fruit-bearing rachillae and inflorescences branched to two orders. (R. Banka and W.J. Baker. 2004)/Palmweb.

Comments and Curiosities

Conservation: Data deficient. While the relatively wide distribution of R. elegans in the Solomon Islands suggests that the category "Least Concern" may be appropriate, we know too little about the distribution of this species and the threats that it might face to make an assessment at this stage. (R. Banka and W.J. Baker. 2004)/Palmweb.

The famous Harold E. Moore, father of modern palm taxonomy, wrote in Principes that this species was "one of the most elegant palms I have seen"; and surely he had seen a lot of palms! It grows a straight, slender trunk to about 14 m (46 ft.) tall, topped by a reddish brown crownshaft that supports numerous most gracefully spreading leaves with somewhat drooping leaflets. Native to rainforest on the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean east of New Guinea, it prefers a humid, tropical climate. Young plants make delightful potted specimens. (RPS.com)

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to Palmweb.org, 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).

Banka, R. & Baker, W.J. 2004. A Monograph of the Genus Rhopaloblaste (Arecaceae). Kew Bulletin, Vol. 59, No. 1, pp. 47-60.

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

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