Rhopalostylis baueri

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baueri (bough'-ehr-ee)
Photo Locations: Lotusland - Santa Barbara, CA. and Strybing Arboretum - San Francisco, CA. Photo: selectree.calpoly.edu
Scientific Classification
Genus: Rhopalostylis
baueri (bough'-ehr-ee)
Variety: Rhopalostylis var. cheesemanii
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Norfolk Island Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Rhopalostylis baueri is found on the Kermadec Is., Norfolk Is., and is a species of Indigenous palm, Kermadec nikau (N.Z. only),
Tonga apartments. Ventura CA. Photo by Troy Donovan
in New Zealand known only from Raoul Island (Kermadec Islands group). Also on Norfolk Island, its type locality.. In New Zealand known only from Raoul Island (Kermadec Islands group). Also on Norfolk Island, its type locality. to Norfolk Island (Australia) and to the KermadecIslands (New Zealand). On Raoul Island in the Kemadecs though always abundant, the palm has, following the successful eradication of rats four years ago has greatly expanded its range. On Norfolk Island it now occupies a small range in the centre of the island near the National Park, where the species is somewhat threatened by rats that eat the fruit and young seedlings. It is rare elsewhere on the island. Abundant in both dry and wet forest types on Raoul Island where it sometimes is the main canopy dominant. (nzpcn.org)


Rhopalostylis baueri reaches 12 m or more in height. The pinnate leaves are 3 to 4 m long, on a stout, erect petiole (leafstem) approximately 20 cm long. The crownshaft is 50-60 cm long. The inflorescence is 30 50 cm long and has from 50 to 60 fairly stout branches. The fruits are green at first, turning a bright red when ripe, and are a favorite food of the endangered Norfolk Island Parakeet. The growing tip of the palm was used by early settlers as a vegetable and is said to have tasted like a nut when raw and like an artichoke bottom when boiled. It is much faster growing than the New Zealand nikau, Rhopalostylis sapida. There is a Rhopalostylis bauer which is on the notable tree list 2002 beside the Cricket Pavilion at Pukekura Park.


In the southern hemisphere outside its habitats, R. baueri is cultivated in mainland New Zealand as a faster-growing alternative to the otherwise similar R. sapida, the Nikau Palm, the only other species in the genus Rhopalostylis. It is also grown in the Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia. In the northern hemisphere excellent cultivated specimens are found on the coasts of the southeastern Azores and Madeira, which offer similar climates to those of the species' origin. The species is also grown outdoors in coastal California, Hawai'i, continental Portugal and Spain, the Canary Islands, and in parts of the Mediterranean basin (e.g., Palermo, Italy).

PROPAGATION TECHNIQUE: Easily grown from fresh seed. Seed should be soaked in water to remove flesh and then sown over a damp peat/coarse sand mix and left in a shaded spot (ideally in a mister) and ignored. Fruit may take up to a year to germinate. Frost tender. Plants resent root disturbance so they should be planted in a sheltered semi-shaded site and then left alone. (nzpcn.org)

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Comments and Curiosities

This is a tillering palm, it exhibits saxophone style root growth (it has a heel), keep top third of heel above soil elevation!

Etymology: Rhopalostylis; From the Latin, literally, 'club style'.

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).

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

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