Livistona inermis R.Br., Prodr. : 268 (1810)

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Australia. Northern Territory and Queensland. In the northern part of the Northern Territory from the headwaters of the Daly R. across the Top End inland to Katherine. In northwest Queensland, including nearshore islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Grows in open forest and woodland and in sandstone gorges and outcrops, 2-300 m alt. Flowers Aug-Mar; fruits Jun-Sept. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Livistona inermis was one of two species described by Brown (1810) in establishing Livistona, based on the collection Brown s.n. from Sir Edward Pellew Islands, Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia in 1802, and named for the unarmed petioles. The other species was L. humilis. The identity of L. inermis has been confused by many taxonomists. For example, Wendland and Drude (1875) established their description of L. inermis on specimens of what is now known to be L. decora, while Bentham (1878) suggested that ??it may prove to be a variety only of L. humilis?. Drude (1893) placed it as a possible synonym of L. leichhardtii (= L. humilis). Beccari (1931) applied considerable discussion on the true identity of L. inermis and provided the first account that succinctly characterised the species, thus profoundly separating it from L. humilis. Saribus inermis was a combination proposed by Kuntze (1891). Subsequent records of L. inermis in various flora and regional accounts have been somewhat variable. It was correctly recorded and described by Ewart and Davies (1917) and Blake (1954), while Specht and Mountford (1958) confused it with L. humilis and Chippendale (1972) identified it as L. lorophylla. Gardner (1930) named the Western Australian populations of L. lorophylla as L. inermis. Rodd (1998) described L. inermis with a ?sometimes branching? trunk. Although the stem may be damaged and form ?spontaneous branching? (?freak branching? cf. Tomlinson, 1990), it is not a naturally occurring event. Spontaneous branching is usually the result of physical damage to the apical meristem, with the result that more than one growing point can develop. During fieldwork, populations of L. inermis were observed in which individual plants were tightly grouped and may be incorrectly revealed that ?branches? were indeed separate plants or individuals that had been damage by fire or termites. Livistona inermis is a moderate sub-canopy palm to 10 m tall; leaves are small and regularly segmented; segment apices are rigid to semipendulous, and with a bifurcate cleft to 84% of the segment length; the petiole is unarmed, or with very small spines or calli; the inflorescence is unbranched, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, and with up to 3 partial inflorescences; bracts are loosely tubular; flowers are white to cream; fruit are obovoid to pyriform, to 13 mm long to 7 mm wide, and glossy black at maturity. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Least concern. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Functionally dioecious palm. Trunk to 10 m tall, 6-10 cm dbh, leaf scars prominently raised, internodes narrow, grey, persistent petiole stubs in the lower portion only. Leaves 10-30 in a globose crown; petiole arching, 60- 90 cm long, 6-10 mm wide, adaxially flat or shallowly concave, margins with small single curved reddish to black spines to 5 mm long restricted to the proximal portion, distally smooth or with widely spaced small reddish to black calli to 1 mm long; leaf-base fibres moderately prominent, coarse, persistent; lamina costapalmate, regularly segmented, circular to subcircular, 30-70 cm long, coriaceous, adaxially light green to greengrey, abaxially lighter green-grey glossy to lightly pruinose, segments extended along the costa; lamina divided for 80-97% of its length, with 24-48 segments, depth of apical cleft 70-84% of the segment length, apical lobes acuminate to filiform, rigid to semipendulous; parallel veins 8-10 each side of midrib; transverse veins thinner than parallel veins. Inflorescences unbranched at the base, not sexually dimorphic, 40-90 cm long, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, branched to 3 orders; partial inflorescences ca 3; the most basal partial inflorescence about as long as the remainder of the inflorescence; prophyll 12-28 cm long, 2-3 cm wide, papyraceous, glabrous; peduncular bract(s) lacking; rachis bracts loosely tubular, papyraceous, glabrous, slightly pubescent toward the apex; rudimentary bracts subtend the distal partial inflorescences; rachillae 1-9 cm long, glabrous. Flowers solitary or in clusters of 2-3, funnel-shaped, 1.5-2.3 mm long, white to cream or yellow; sepals narrowly triangular, 0.7-1.4 mm long, membranous, acute; petals triangular to broadly ovate, 1.5-1.9 mm long, thick, acute to apiculate; stamens 1.5-1.6 mm long; anthers bright yellow. Fruit obovoid to pyriform, 10-13 mm long, 6-7 mm diam., glossy black; epicarp smooth; suture line extends the length of the fruit, marked with lip-like structures; mesocarp fleshy; endocarp thin. Seed ellipsoid, 8-9 mm long. Eophyll 3-ribbed. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A

Materials Examined

  • Specimens examined: AUSTRALIA: Northern Territory. Melville Is., Jul-Aug 1911, Baldwin-Spencer s.n. (MEL); 2 km W of West Alligator R., Arnhem Hwy, Benson 952 (NSW); 72 km E of Kakadu NP boundary on Kakadu Hwy, Dowe 200 (BRI, FTG); Kakadu NP, Craven 6053 (MEL); Kakadu NP, 6 km from Mt Brockman, Telford 8064 & Wrigley (CBG, NSW); Kakadu NP, 2.5 km NW of Koongarra Saddle, Telford 814 & Wrigley (CBG, NSW); Nourlangie, 220 km ESE of Darwin, Beauglehole 58707 (MEL); Banks of Liverpool R., Aug 1819, Cunningham s.n. (M); W of Liverpool R., June 1869, Gulliver s.n. (MEL); headwaters of Liverpool R., 12º46'S, 133º44'E, Craven & Wightman 8410 (A, MEL); Munmarlary Stn, Latz 3728 (CANB, DNA, QRS); 21 miles NW of Katherine, Lazarides 6627 (B, CANB, L); Katherine Gorge, 15 miles E of Katherine, Lazarides 7040 (BRI, DNA, K, L); 90 miles S of Maningrida, 12º51?S, 134º32?E, Maconochie 1581 (CANB, DNA, K); El Sharana Mining Camp, Martensz 384a with Schodde (B, BRI, CANB, DNA, K, L, NSW, US); 8 km NW of El Sharana, Benson 994 (NSW); 13 miles E of El Sharana Mining Camp, Lazarides 7974 (K); Katherine Gorge, ca 0.5 km SE of NP HQ, Rodd 2931 & 2932 (BH, DNA, K, NSW); Katherine Gorge, Must 985 (BRI); Katherine Gorge, 15 miles NE of Katherine, Lazarides 6990 (CANB, NSW); 90 km from Pine Ck, Gittens 2590 (BRI, DNA, NSW); Nitmiluk, above visitor centre, Evans 3544 (CANB, DNA, K); Pine Ck-Oenpelli Rd, near Mudginberri Stn, Symon 10347 (NSW); South West Is., 15º41'S, 136º40'E, McKey 101 (DNA, K, NSW); Maria Is., 14º52'S, 135º44'E, Dunlop 2836 (AD, BRI, CANB, DNA, DWL, NSW); Groote Eylandt, 25 km W of Umbakumba on main road, Fosberg 62325 (BRI); Sir Edward Pellew Islands, North Is., Brown (Bennett no. 5795) (BM holotype, FI, K); Sir Edward Pellew Islands, Centre Is., Rice 2037 (BRI, NSW); Sir Edward Pellew Islands, Centre Is., Craven 3841 (CANB); Wollogorang Stn, Echo Gorge, Thomson 802 (DNA, NSW). Queensland. Wentworth-Troutbeck Stn, Gasteen 20 (BRI); Westmoreland Stn, near Burketown, 17º26'S, 138º10'E, 16 June 1991, Birch s.n. (BRI); Stockyard Camp, 17º29'S, 138º13'E, Melville 1122 (BRI); 50 km E of Wollogorang on road to Burketown, Halford 605 (BRI). (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


    A. Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae)