Licuala longispadix Banka & Barfod, Kew Bull. 59: 73 (2004)

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  • Introduction Licuala Wurmb. is the most speciose genus of the coryphoid palms in New Guinea. The genus is under revision as part of the Palms of New Guinea (PONG) project and so far 27 species have been recorded within the political borders of the Indonesian Province of West Papua and Papua New Guinea. In 1999, J. Wiakabu of the PNG Forest Research Institute and J. Worimbangu of the PNG Forest Authority in Lae collected an aberrant species of Licuala in the Green River District, Amanab subdistrict, Sandaun Province. The specimen was presented to us at the LAE herbarium and the collectors mentioned that it had a very long, pendent inflorescence that reached the forest floor. From the height of the palm indicated on the label we deduced that the inflorescence was at least 4 m long, the longest ever recorded in the genus. During one of the field campaigns organised within the framework of the PONG project we recollected the species at Pual River near Vanimo in the Sandaun Province. (R. Banka & A.S Barfod, A spectacular new species of Licuala (Arecaceae, Coryphoideae) from New Guinea. 2004)A


Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
New Guineapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Only known from two localities in the Sandaun Province where it is quite rare locally. (R. Banka & A.S Barfod, A spectacular new species of Licuala (Arecaceae, Coryphoideae) from New Guinea. 2004)A


  • The collections available to us only comprise old inflorescences and fruiting material. We were able to retrieve two flowers stuck to a spiders' web. The gynoecium in both is rather stunted, maybe an effect of the aborted embryos. The question of whether the flowers are hermaphroditic or dioecious awaits further study. The fruits of New Guinea licualas are often presented near the forest floor either by bending of the infructescence due to the weight of the fruits, as in L. beccariana, or due to long pendent inflorescences, as in L. longispadix. This phenomenon is probably an adaptation to dispersal by ground- dwelling animals such as the cassowaries that roamed the forests of New Guinea prior to the advent of man and domesticated pigs. (R. Banka & A.S Barfod, A spectacular new species of Licuala (Arecaceae, Coryphoideae) from New Guinea. 2004)A


Biology And Ecology



  • Solitary palm up to 3 - 4 m tall. Stem about 14 cm in diam., with short internodes, covered by grey crustaceous lichens. Leaves about 15 in crown; leaf sheaths tubular and intact in the centre of the crown, about 20 cm long, transition into petiole gradual, extended on the opposite side of the petiole into an up to 76 cm long, brown chartaceous ligule, eventually disintegrating into a fibrous mesh; petiole variable in length, up to 3 m long in fully developed leaves, 1.5 - 1.8 cm wide at the base, 1 - 1.3 cm wide below insertion of lamina, greenish with deciduous ferrugineous ramenta, the basal 60 cm armed with up to 5 mm long spines, mixed long and short to evenly sized, greenish-brown to greyish, flattened distally and rounded at the base, recurved to straight; lamina rounded in outline, somewhat darker green above, divided in 36 segments, position of hastula slightly eccentric; mid segment wedge shaped, with 18 - 20 adaxial ribs, 1.2 m long and 45 cm wide at the apex, basal segments with 3 adaxial ribs, about 1 m long and 5 - 7 cm wide at the apex; indentations leading to adaxial ribs 2 - 3 cm long, those leading to abaxial about 0.5 cm long. Inflorescences about 3 on one palm, 4 - 4.5 m long, pendent and reaching the ground, with 12 - 13 partial inflorescences, branched to third order basally, peduncle 82 cm long as measured to the base of the first primary branch, about 3.5 x 1 cm in cross section; prophyll 35 - 40 cm long, 6.5 cm wide at the base; one peduncular bract present 60 - 80 cm long, thick and chartaceous, splitting irregularly at the apex only; rachis 3.4 - 3.7 m long; rachis bracts about 80 cm long, like peduncular bract in texture and colour; the basal partial inflorescence branched distally for about 40 cm, with approx. 42 pendent rachillae. Flowers solitary, hermaphrodite; calyx cylindrical, 2.5 - 3 mm long, glabrous or with few minute trichomes, breaking up regularly in three lobes, about 1 mm long and apically acute to obtuse; corolla about 5 mm long, lobes 2 - 2.5 mm long; androecium fused to corolla for 1.8 - 2 mm, staminal ring about 0.5 mm long; anthers inserted in one level, 0.3 - 0.4 mm long; receptacle and calyx fused for about 0.3 - 0.4 mm; ovary glabrous 2 - 2.5 mm long, truncate apically; style about 0.5 mm long; locules in upper half, about 0.3 mm long. Fruit pedicel widened basally. Fruit globose, 2 - 2.5 x 1 - 1.5 cm, red at maturity; endocarp 2 - 2.2 x 1 - 1.2 cm, reinforced with three, up to 5 mm wide, longitudinal ridges; seed narrow fusiform to elliptic, about 5 x 2 mm. (R. Banka & A.S Barfod, A spectacular new species of Licuala (Arecaceae, Coryphoideae) from New Guinea. 2004)A

Materials Examined