Kentiopsis piersoniorum Pintaud & Hodel, Principes 42: 45 (1998)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
New Caledonia present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Kentiopsis piersoniorum occurs in a very limited area on the east slope of Mt Panié where it mainly occupies one valley and adjacent hills and ridges at (400)500-800(1000) m elevation (Pintaud, J.-C. & Hodel, D. 1998: A Revision of Kentiopsis, a Genus Endemic to New Caledonia)A


  • Kentiopsis piersoniorum is an impressive and spectacular palm. The sharply recurvedo grayish leaves and glaucous crownshaft are remarkable, even among the many palm species with recurved leaves on Mt Panié and the strikingly glaucous color of the inflorescence contrasts aesthetically with the glossy brown buds, pink petals, white filaments and yellow anthers of the staminate flowers. Unfortunately for visitors, the breathtaking populations of K. piersoniorum are hardly accessible. Kentiopsis piersoniorurn is distinctive by the complete staminodial ring but also by its low rate of reproduction and long delay (one month) between anthesis of staminate and pistillate flowers in the same triad. Kentiopsis piersoniorum resembles K. magnifica in inflorescence morphology, both species having stout glaucous and sparsely scaly branches, glossy-brown buds and unequal bracteoles, the inner one sepal-like, but they differ markedly in flower shape and structure, leaf shape, and indument. The two species occur about 50 air kilometers apart. Taxonomic history: H. E. Moore, Jr. first collected this species in 1971. Despite vegetative differences, Moore assigned it to Mackeea rnagnifica, basinghis decision on his incomplete collection consisting only of immature fruits. We were able to collect this palm in flower in 7995-I996,the more complete material showing it to be a distinct species. (Pintaud, J.-C. & Hodel, D. 1998: A Revision of Kentiopsis, a Genus Endemic to New Caledonia)A


  • K. magnificae (H. E. Moore) Pintaud & Hodel affinis sed folliis valde recurvatis, pinnis erectis, vaginis purpurascentibus vel purpureisviridibus glabrescentibus ceraceis albis, staminodiis 6, filamentis basaliter distinctis, pistillodiis circa fila aequantibus differt. (Pintaud, J.-C. & Hodel, D. 1998: A Revision of Kentiopsis, a Genus Endemic to New Caledonia)A

Biology And Ecology

  • Ecology. Kentiopsis piersoniorum grows as an emergent, gregarious, dominant, exposed tree in shrubby to forested vegetation on steep slopes and ridges on schists. Associated palm species include Basseliniaa elutina, Chambeyronial epidota, Moratia cerifera, and Brongniartikentia lanuginosa. Mass germination occurs in the dense stands. Phenology. Anthesis occurs from November through April; fruits mature from August through October. The two aceessible individuals from which all collections have been made (including Moore's) at 570 m elevation on the trail to the summit of Mt Panié have flowered once in two years (1995-1996), and the large proportion of sterile individuals in the main population on the opposite ridge southward suggests that flowering may be normally biennial or even more infrequent, with the production of only a single inflorescence each time. (Pintaud, J.-C. & Hodel, D. 1998: A Revision of Kentiopsis, a Genus Endemic to New Caledonia)A


  • Status is low risk but conservation dependant (LRcd, proposed according to IUCN [1994]). Although very abundant at the place where it occurs, K. piersoniorum is restricted to several hundred hectares of forest only. The population of K. piersoniorum is afforded some protection, especially against fire, since it occurs entirely in the Mt Panié Botanical Reserve where its habitat is undisturbed and difficult to access. (Pintaud, J.-C. & Hodel, D. 1998: A Revision of Kentiopsis, a Genus Endemic to New Caledonia)A


  • The epithet honors the Pierson families, Robert and Geneviéve of Tontouta and their sons and daughters-in-law, Jean and Chantal, and Gilles and Marie-Christine of Noum6ao who have gone to exceptional measures to increase our knowledge of New Caledonia palms and encourage and support our work leading to a book on this island's extraordinary palms. (Pintaud, J.-C. & Hodel, D. 1998: A Revision of Kentiopsis, a Genus Endemic to New Caledonia)A


  • Emergent palm. Trunk 10-15 m tall or more, 18-25 cm dbh, gray, sometimes with an expanded base. Leaves l0-12, sharply recurved; sheath 80-120 cm long, purplish-green to purple obscured by a layer of bright glaucous wax and dotted with tiny brown scales abaxially, only slightly splitting opposite petiole and there bearing small auricles 1 cm long; petiole 12-18 cm long, rachis 2.2-2.3 m long, petiole and rachis purplish, soon glabrescent but covered initially by a dense, short white tomentum; pinnae 35-40 on each side, median ones 110 X 3-4.5 cm, proximal 2 pairs continuing into lorae, all straight, narrowly acute, coriaceous, l-ribbed, ascending in a narrow V, adaxially waxy, glaucous-green, midrib bearing abaxially twisted brown ramenta on proximal l/2 to 3/4 of the pinnae. Inflorescences 80-100 cm wide, spreading, branched to three orders, all parts except flowers and bracts strikingly glaucous and discretely spotted with minute, brown scales; peduncle short, encircling half the trunk; prophyll 60-70 X 20 cm, acute, with marginal wings 2-5 cm wide; first peduncular bract 60-70 X 15-18 cm. rostrate. both bracts densely covered abaxially with brown indument; rachis 30 cm long, main branches 6-10 cm long, 1-2 cm wide, ± rounded, swollen at base; bracts subtending branches small, triangular proximally, reduced to a low ridge distally; rachillae 100-200 or more, 35 cm long, 0.5 cm diameter, straight to reflexed, rounded, glabrous. Flowers in triads in proximal 2/3-3/4 of rachilla, bract subtending triads a thin, sharpedged, rounded shelf 1.5-1.75 mm high; flowers glossy, dark brown in bud, flowering basipetally; staminate flowers in bud 9.5 X 4.5 mm, bullet-shaped, slightly asymmetrical; calyx 4 X 6 mm, cupular, triangular, sepals cup-shaped, rounded or truncate apically, strongly angled abaxially; petals 8 X 4.5 mm, long-ovateo connate in basal l/4-1/3, pink adaxially; stamens 35-38, exceeding petals, filaments 5 mm long, slender, white, attenuate apically, straight or inflexed, free or nearly so, anthers 4-4.5 mm long, slender, dorsifixed 1.5 mm from base, connective narrow tanniniferous; pistillode 3.5-4 mm high, 2/3 as high to equalling filaments, conic basally, attenuate apically; outer bracteole surrounding pistillate flower conspicuous, 2.5 mm high, inner bracteole very large, sepal-like, 4.5 mm high, only partly surrounding flower on one side, rounded; pistillate flowers at anthesis 10 X 5 mm, ovoid-elongate; calyx 5 X 5.5 mm, cupshaped, sepals broadly rounded apically; petals cup-shaped, acute apically; staminodes 6, * thick, connate basally and forming a crownlike ring 0.6 mm high; gynoecium 6 X 4 mm at anthesis, ovoid, stigmatic lobes thick, blunt, straight at anthesis, recurved later, angled, ovule pendulous. Fruits 17-23 x 9-10 mm, cylindrical and smooth when fresh, purplish, drying bulletshaped and pebbled, fruiting perianth 6.5 mm high, stigmatic remains apical; mesocarp with a layer offlat, mostly separate, longitudinal fibers included in a thick layer of tannin cells; endocarp thin. Seeds 10-15 x 6.5-7 mm, bullet-shaped but truncate at both ends, endosperm homogeneous. Seedling with deeply bifid eophyll, lobes narrowly lanceolate to 15 cm long, with prominent nerves adaxially; trunkless juvenile individuals with spirally arranged leaves; saxophone growth absent. (Pintaud, J.-C. & Hodel, D. 1998: A Revision of Kentiopsis, a Genus Endemic to New Caledonia)A

Materials Examined

  • Additional specimens examined. NEW CALEDONIA. East slope of Mont Panié, 600-700 m elev., 2O˚34' S, 164˚48' E, 23 June 1971 (fr.), H. E. Moore, Jr., H. Brinon, M. Schrnid & J.-M. Veillon 9968 (BH, NOU); Mont Panié, on trail to summit, in open shrubby vegetation dominated by Araucaria montana, 570 m elev., 12 Jun. 1995 fiuv.), J.-C. Pintaud & M. Oliaier 208 (NOU, NY, P); 211 (ster.) (P); id. 26 Jil. 1995 gw.), J.-C. Pintaud & P.-O. Albano 238 (P); id. 77 Ian. 1996 (pist. fl.), J.-C. Pintaud 318 (BH, BRI, K, NY, P); id. 18 Mar. 1996 (pist. fl.), J.-C. Pintaud 341 (leg. D. R. Hodel),( NOU); id. 5 Jun. 1996 fiuv.), J.-C. Pintaud & D. R. Hodel 367 (NOU). (Pintaud, J.-C. & Hodel, D. 1998: A Revision of Kentiopsis, a Genus Endemic to New Caledonia)A


    A. Pintaud, J.-C. & Hodel, D. 1998: A Revision of Kentiopsis, a Genus Endemic to New Caledonia
    B. World Checklist of Arecaceae