Rhopaloblaste singaporensis

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singaporensis (sing-ah-por-EN-sis)
Kepong, Selangor, Malaysia. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Rhopaloblaste
singaporensis (sing-ah-por-EN-sis)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Kerinting Palm (Bahasa Malaysia), Sinapore Walking Stick Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Singapore, Malaysia. In dipterocarp forest up
Panaʻewa Rainforest Zoo, Hilo, Hawaii. Photo by Geoff Stein.
to 180 m above sea level.


Small slender understorey clustering palm bearing 5 - 8 leaves per stem in the crown. Stem to 5 m tall, 1.9 -4 cm in diam., surface greyish brown, leaf scars prominent; internodes 3 - 5 cm. Leaf sheath 20 - 35 cm long, with dense interlocking silvery white brownish scales on the surface, tubular, persistent after death of leaf; crownshaft present, but obscured by decaying leaf sheaths, 25 - 40 cm long, 2 - 3 cm in diam.; petiole elongate, 60 - 70 cm long, moderately grooved on the adaxial surface, with sparse brownish membranous scales; rachis 1.7 - 1.8 m long, rounded, but moderately grooved on the adaxial surface, with dense grey-brown membranous scales; leaflets 42 - 50 each side of rachis, borne 2 - 2.5 cm apart, in one plane, spreading, middle leaflet 25 - 31 x 10 - 13 mm, narrowly linear, tapering acutely and bifid at the apex, discolorous, with greyish white ramenta present along the elevated mid-veins on the abaxial surface, twisted brownish black membranous scales on the adaxial surfaces of mid-veins, less dense on the abaxial, becoming more dense at the base of pinnae. Inflorescence 20 - 35 cm long, with a spread of 10 - 15 cm, emerging from the decaying leaf sheaths below the crownshaft, branched to 1 or 2 orders, primary branches 4 - 8, 20 - 30 cm long, basal pair of primary branches spreading at an angle approaching 90' to the primary axis of the rachis; prophyll 6 - 7 x 2 - 3 cm, greyish brown; peduncle 1 - 2 cm long, 0.5 - 1 cm in diam., with blackish scales inside the very thin grooves on the rugose surface; rachillae very slender, 25 - 34 cm long, 1.4 - 3 mm in diam., green, turning greenish brown with age. Staminate flower symmetric, 3.5 - 4.5 mm long, 1.5 - 2 mm in diam.; sepals 1.3 - 1.5 x 1.9 - 2.1 mm, broad to rounded; petals 2.8 - 3 x 1.8 - 2 mm, linear- elliptic; stamens 2.7 - 3 mm long, filaments 1.4 - 1.5 mm long, connate at the base, anthers 1.4 - 1.5 mm long, 0.6 - 0.7 mm in diam., yellowish brown; pistillode conical, 2.5 - 2.6 mm long, 0.9 - 1 mm in diam. at the base. Pistillate flower 1.8 - 2 mm long, 2.8 - 3 mm in diam.; sepals 1.7 - 2 x 2.4 - 2.5 mm, rounded; petals 2 - 2.5 x 1.8 - 2 mm, broadly obovate; staminodes 4, lobes 0.7 - 0.9 x 0.8 - 0.9 mm; gynoecium 1.6 - 1.7 mm long, 1.2 - 1.3 mm in diam., ovoid. Fruit 10 - 12 mm long, 8 - 9 mm in diam., ellipsoid, yellowish orange to red when mature; cupule of persistent perianth 2 - 3 mm long. Seed 6 - 7 mm long, 3.5 - 4 mm in diam., ellipsoid, testa black. (R. Banka and W.J. Baker. 2004)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Rhopaloblaste singaporensis is extraordinary within the genus for many reasons. It is the only species of Rhopaloblaste that has clustering stems.


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

Comments and Curiosities

Uses: Used for making spear handles and walking sticks. The fruits are sometimes eaten like Pinang (Areca catechu). Sometimes grown as an ornamental. (R. Banka and W.J. Baker. 2004)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Least concern. With its relatively wide distribution, R. singaporensis cannot be regarded as threatened at a global level under IUCN criteria. However, while some Malaysian populations occur in protected areas, the range of the species has certainly been reduced significantly. It is now very sparsely distributed in Singapore (Loo, pers. comm.) and the Perak populations are highly threatened (Saw, pers. comm.). (R. Banka and W.J. Baker. 2004)/Palmweb.

"Smaller clustering (sometimes solitary??) species from Singapore and nearby Malaysia. Has a tan to silver crownshaft and pendant leaflets as it matures (younger palms without a trunk yet have upright leaflets). Petioles are an attractive light orange color. Great specimen palm for small, tropical wet gardens. (Geoff Stein)

Native to rainforests on the Malay Peninsula, this slender palm forms small clusters of thin trunks to about 3.5 m (12 ft.) tall, with very finely divided, glossy green leaves, not unlike Lytocaryum. It is best suited to the humid tropics. (RPS.com)

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

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

Special thanks to Palmweb.org, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos, edric.

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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