Areca gurita Heatubun, Phytotaxa 28: 15 (2011)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Borneo present (C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011)A
This species is known from several collections in Bintulu Division and Miri Division of Sarawak. (C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011)A


  • Heath forest to montane forest from an elevation 80-750 m above sea level. (C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011)A


  • Areca gurita is similar to A. minuta in habit, leaves and general appearance. However, they can easily be differentiated by inflorescence structure and flower arrangement. The rachillae of A. gurita are recurved and resemble octopus tentacles, and the flowers are mostly uniseriate. The rachillae are numerous (3-8 including terminal rachilla) and the anther connective is also linear, rather than the rachillae being few (usually with only 3 rachillae), the flowers arranged spirally on the rachillae and the furcate connective in A. minuta. The flower arrangement in A. gurita appears to be a modification from spiral to uniseriate; spirally arranged flowers still persist at the tip of rachillae. The rachillae are expanded on one side and display all flowers in the one direction. (C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011)A


  • Endangered (EN B2ab). This species is known from only four localities in the wild, at least one of which may have been destroyed. Only one locality falls within a protected area (Lavang forest). Areca gurita is cultivated in Semengoh Forest Arboretum near Kuching where the palm grows well and sets fruit. However, further population study is needed to assess the conservation status of this palm, considering the trend of deforestation rates in the region. (C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011)A


  • The specific epithet is gurita, the Malay word for octopus, which reflects the curious appearance of the inflorescence of this species. (C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011)A


  • Clustering with many suckers, small, undergrowth palmlet. Stem to 1.5 m high, 1 cm in diam.; internodes 3 cm long, smooth and green near the crown, light brown to whitish near the base. Leaves ca. 11 in crown, pinnate, ca. 32 cm long (including petiole); sheath tubular, ca. 20 cm long and 1-2 cm wide, light brown to brown, and light brown when dried; crown shaft well-defined, up to 30 cm long and 1-2 cm diam.; petiole ca. 3 cm long, channelled adaxially, rounded abaxially; rachis very slender with adaxial longitudinal ridge, rounded abaxially; blade with irregularly arranged leaflets, 2-4 leaflets on each side, spacing between leaflets 1.5-3 cm; leaflets from narrow to broad, leaflets near petiole ca. 15 × 3 cm, slightly sigmoid, tip obligue acuminate, the middle leaflets about ca. 12 × 2 cm, linear with 1 vein, the terminal leaflets broad, flabellate, ca. 15 × 6 cm, margin toothed, papery, concolorous. Inflorescence infrafoliar, erect, small and compact, to 10 cm long and to 10 cm wide, protandrous, always branching to 1 order; peduncle short to 3 cm, covered in thick brown indumentum; prophyll persistent; rachis also covered in rusty brown indumentum; rachillae 3-8 (including main axis), divaricate, to 10 cm long and ca. 5 mm wide near base, recurved. Floral clusters uniseriate, but spiral at the tip of rachillae, 1?3 complete triads including female flowers occurring near the base of rachilla and more (5?15 flower clusters) on terminal rachilla. Staminate flowers small, triangular to rounded, 2-2.5 × 1.5-1.80 mm, asymmetric, white to cream; calyx fused, triangular cup-shaped, ca. 1.5 × 1 mm before anthesis, 3-lobed, light brown to brown; petals 3, fused near base, obovate, 2-2.2 × 1.2-1.5 mm at anthesis, white to cream-coloured; stamens 6, 1.5-1.7 mm × 0.5 mm, basifixed; anthers ca. 1.2 × 0.5 mm, cream-coloured, sagittate, longer than filaments; filaments ca. 0.5 × 0.2 mm, dark brown, connective linear; pistillode absent. Pistillate flowers larger than the staminate, triangular, ca. 5.5 mm long and 3.5 mm wide before anthesis, greenish; sepals 3, strongly imbricate, 4?4.5 × 4 mm before anthesis, somewhat triangular, asymmetrical; petals 3, imbricate, triangular, ca. 4.5 × 4 mm before anthesis; lacking staminodes; gynoecium ca. 4 mm (including stigma). Fruits (young) white with green at the tip, obovoid with beak, ca. 2 cm long and 1 cm wide (young fruit still in development), apical stigmatic remains, mature fruits not seen. (C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011)A

Materials Examined

  • MALAYSIA. Borneo, Sarawak: Bintulu Division, Bukit Kana, Ulu sg. Sanggan, Tatau, 25 March 1995, Yii & Jugah S. 71688 (K!, KEP, SAR!); Lumut Range, 22 September 1992, Mohtar & Yii S. 65877 (SAR!); Sabal, Logging road, Sabal sisi, 18 February 1995, Runi et al. S. 71203(K!, KEP, L!, SAR!); Miri Division, Lavang Forest Protected Area, 24 April 1994, Yii et al. S. 67563 (KEP, SAR!). (C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011)A


    A. C.D.Heatubun, Seven new species of Areca (Arecaceae) in Phytotaxa 28. 2011