Physokentia insolita H.E.Moore, Principes 13: 133 (1969)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Solomon Is. present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)A


  • Physokentia insolita (insolitus—unusual, strange) is, for the genus, an unusual species. When I first saw material of it at Honiara and later when I studied the type in Ithaca, I thought it to represent an undescribed genus. The combination of shape of staminate pistillode, sculptured endocarp and seed, red fruit, red sclerosomes in the mesocarp, and ruminate endosperm seemed not to fit with any other taxon in the clinostigma-toid alliance. It was fortunate that publication was withheld pending receipt and study of Physokentia Dennisii, for the last species is intermediate between P. insolita on the one hand and previously described species on the other. Lack'ng mature fruit, there seems nothing in the inflorescence or flowers to differentiate P. insolita generically and the foilage, though unusual in the broad pinnae and generally short petiole, is approached by that of P. Dennisii. The material from low elevations on Kolombangara Island and New Georg'a seems to agree well, though fruit is mostly immature. Dr. Whitmore writes: "common to abundant on West Kolombangara as a pretty undergrowth palm from ca. 500 ft. to ca. 1000 ft. alt.; it does not grow down to sea-level." Two collections from higher elevations on Guadalcanal are referred here with some question. The fruit is slightly larger (13 mm. high, 12-13 mm. in diam.) than in the type (11-12 mm. high, 10-11 mm. in diam.) and the endocarp is more prominently sculptured (Fig. 2F). Mature flowers have not been available and the discernible differences are not of a magnitude that lends conviction to separate description. More extensive collecting and field study may ultimately show associations of differences among plants of different islands or island groups or simply a continuum of variation. The presence of a Physokentia on Santa Ysabel noted previously (Moore & Whitmore 9307) and perhaps of this relationship suggests that we have yet much to learn about the genus in the Solomons (Moore, H. 1969: A synopsis of the Genus Physokentia)B


  • Folia irregulariter pinnata pinnis utrinque 5-6 acutis 5—8—nervibus. Inflorescentia duplo-ramosa rachillis ad 40 cm. longis, bracteolis floris foeminei angustis, apice rotundatis. Fructus ruber, globosus, 11-12 mm. altus, 10-11 mm. in diam., endocarpio 10-12 mm. alto, 9-11 mm. in diam., fragili, carina dor-sali obtusa, carinis lateralibus utrinque 2-3 indistinctis, seminis endospermio ruminato. (Moore, H. 1969: A synopsis of the Genus Physokentia)B

Common Name

  • manusilae or sometimes garagara in Kwara'ae dialect. (Moore, H. 1969: A synopsis of the Genus Physokentia)B


  • Stem solitary, slender, to 15 m. high. 17.5 cm. in diam., light brown or grey and smooth near the base with prominent leaf-scars and internodes 7.5-15 cm. long, green toward apex where internodes are shorter, with sometimes ribbed stilt roots to 15 dm. high, 2.5-5 cm. in diam., with spread of ca. 45 cm. at ground. Leaves ca. 8, spreading at maturity; crownshaft 4.5-6 dm. long, fawn-colored from dense coat of pale brown floccose scales with pale centers where protected or olive-green and pale-puncticulate where exposed, the old sheaths purple within; petiole slender 8-37.5 cm. long, 1.3—1.5 cm. wide at apex, densely dark-brown-lepidote or -puncticulate on the rounded lower surface, similarly lepidote on the channelled upper surface, the scales membranous-margined; rachis 1.5-1.8 m. long (1.77 m. in type) with scales similar to those of the petiole; blade little or irregularly divided on each side into 2-3 very broad, many-nerved pinnae in younger plants or with 4-6 mostly broad pinnae on each side in mature individuals bearing flowers and fruits; pinnae (on one entire leaf of type) 5 per side, from base to apex with respectively 6, 6, 7, 5, 8 primary nerves or a total of 32 per side for the entire blade, (1.5-) 12-38 cm. wide at insertion, 43-108 cm. long on upper margin, 6.5-13 cm. wide at about middle, falcately narrowed to an acute apex, but this sometimes broken or frayed and appearing praemorse, secondary nerves 2-4 between each primary nerve, both surfaces and all nerves rather densely dark-lepidote with minute pale-margined scales, the primary nerves with prominent, red-brown, irregularly linear, membranous, medi-fixed or basifixed scales toward the base on the lower surface. Inflorescences 1-8 on an individual plant, spreading, paniculately twice-branched, whitish at anthesis, to more than 6 dm. long and wide; lower peduncular bract thin, ca. 35 cm. long, briefly pointed, glabrous; peduncle 6-10 cm. long, 1.3-2.2 cm. wide at apex; rachis 9-22 cm. to last branch, bearing 9-10 branches, the lower of these once-branched, the upper furcate to simple and to ca. 40 cm. long, rachis and branches with small, lacerate-fimbriate, whitish, dark-centered scales at least at anthesis; rachillae bearing triads nearly to the apex, these subtended by prominent rounded to usually acute bracts, bracteoles very narrow and inconspicuous, glabrous or, as also the staminate pedicels, minutely hairy but not prominently white-barbate. Flowers cream-colored in bud: staminate flowers asymmetric, 5.5-7 mm. long when dry; sepals ca. 2 mm. long, narrow, acutish, somewhat keeled dorsally, ciliolate along the margins, not or very inconspicuously nerved when dry; petals ca. 5-6 mm. long, 2.5-3 mm. wide, rather conspicuously nerved when dry; pistillode conic when fresh, angled-columnar when dry. with angled apex, ca. one-third as high as stamens in bud: pistillate buds ca. 2.5-3 mm. high, the perianth in fruit with sepals 2.5 mm. long and often lobed (entire, rounded-acute and ciliolate along the margins in bud), petals 4 mm. high, 4.5 mm. wide, prominently ciliolate along the margins. Fruit red at maturity, globose, with excentrically apical stigmatic residue. 11-13 mm. high, 10-13 mm. in diam.; mesocarp with numerous red sclerosomes in fleshy tissue and some flattened curved fibers; endocarp 10-12 mm. high, 10-11 mm. wide, 9-10 mm. thick with acute adaxial (hilar) keel, rounded abaxial (dorsal) keel, rounded apex, 2-3 indistinct rounded partial ridges and shallow to marked depressions on each side, the operculum rounded; seed ca. 8-9 mm. high, broad, and thick, brown, irregularly sculptured and rounded in conformity with the endocarp, raphe-branches ca. 5 per side from the ventral hilar keel, lateral and anastomosing dorsally toward base; endosperm ruminate; embryo basal. (Moore, H. 1969: A synopsis of the Genus Physokentia)B

Materials Examined

  • Specimens examined. BRITISH SOLOMON ISLANDS PROTECTORATE: NEW GEORGIA GROUP, KOLOMBANGARA ISLAND; east coast, 1 1/2 miles inland, ca. 200 ft. alt., 16 April 1964, T. C. Whitmore B S I P 4095 (BH, holotype: HON, US, isotypes) ; west coast, Merusu Cove, hillside, ca. 200 ft. alt., 14 Feb. 1963, T. C. Whitmore B S I P 1438 (HON, LAE, US) ; inland from Iri iri Village (Merusu Cove), wet gully forest at 2500 ft. alt., 28 Sept. 1963, T. C. Whitmore B S I P 2102 (HON, LAE, US). NEW GEORGIA (N.W.): near Jela, hill side, 250 ft. alt., 5 May 1964, A. W. Cowmeadow B S I P 3712 (HON, US); Hovoro, valley bottom, 500 ft. alt., 2 Sept. 1964, Cowmeadow's Collectors B S I P 3774 (HON,US). GUADALCANAL (N.W.); head of ridge E. of Hidden Valley, Mt. Gallego, alt. ca. 2000 ft. (but ranging from ca. 1700 ft. to ca. 3000 ft. on mountain into mist forest area), 17 Sept. 1966, G. F. C. Dennis BSIP 4648 (US); Mt. Gallego, western ridge, 2500-3000 ft., 7 July 1965, T. C. Whitmore RSS 6079 (BH,K). (Moore, H. 1969: A synopsis of the Genus Physokentia)B


    A. World Checklist of Arecaceae
    B. Moore, H. 1969: A synopsis of the Genus Physokentia