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Origin and Habitat: Fiji Islands, It is known only from Vanua Levu and Taveuni islands.
Altitude: 0-1000 m asl.
Habitat: It is an understory component found in often logged dense mixed rain-forests along with Alsmithia longipes.
- Balaka seemannii (H.Wendl.) Becc.
Balaka seemannii (H.Wendl.) Becc.
Ann. Jard. Bot. Buitenzorg 2: 91 (1885)
- Balaka seemannii (H.Wendl.) Becc.
- Drymophloeus seemannii (H.Wendl.) Becc. ex Martelli
- Ptychosperma seemannii H.Wendl.
- Saguaster seemannii (H.Wendl.) Kuntze
- Vitiphoenix seemannii Becc. ex Martelli
- Balaka cuneata Burret
- Balaka gracilis Burret
- Balaka kersteniana (Sander) Becc. ex Martelli
- Actinophloeus kerstenianus (Sander) Burret
- Kentia kersteniana Sander
- Ptychosperma kerstenianum (Sander) Burret
- Balaka perbrevis (H.Wendl.) Becc.
ENGLISH: Spear Palm
FIJIAN (Na Vosa Vakaviti): Niu Balaka, Balaka
Description: Balaka seemannii is a very elegant, skinny palm with fish-tail shaped leaves.
Stem: Slim, solitary, grey to brown, up to 8 m high, (usually maturing at around 2-4 meters tall) and rarely more than 3-4 cm thick.
Crownshaft: Slightly darker than the trunk.
Crown: Open holding only 6-7 fronds.
Leaves: Arching 1-2 m long with 10-12 fish-tail shaped leaflets on each side.
Inflorescence: Branched and carries numerous cream flowers.
Fruit: Ellipsoid and slightly pointed when ripe, bright red and up to 2 cm long. Edible
Bibliography: Major references
1) RC Cambie, J Ash. Fijian Medicinal Plants. Csiro Publishing, 01/gen/1994
2) Dennis Victor Johnson. Palms: An Action Plan for Their Conservation. IUCN, 1996. Page 83
3) Don Ellison, Anthony Ellison. Cultivated Palms Of The World. UNSW Press, 01/mag/2001
Cultivation and Propagation: This is an excellent understory palm that is very highly sought after by palm collectors. It is grown as a an ornamental in tropical in humid regions, especially along with rainforests and once established, will grow quite fast and does well in cultivation.
Soil requirements: It has a fibrous root system and benefits from deep organic, acidic, soils that are fertile and well drained but thrives on wide range of tropical soils, like coastal marine alluvial clays, soils of volcanic origin, acid sands and other coastal alluviums and even in seasonally flooded areas and swamps. Waterlogged, highly lateritic, extremely sandy, stony or peaty soils should be avoided.
Watering: In cultivation they appreciates abundant waterings. During the summer or warmer months, water frequently to keep the soil from drying out.
Light: Will grow better sheltered , but tolerates morning sun and survives in full sun when given plenty of water. Seedlings like a more sheltered area.
Fertilization: Need a perfect fertilizer diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements.
Aerosol salt tolerance: It is moderately salt tolerant, but does a lot better inland then it does on the coast.
Hardiness: It needs high temperatures and is suited for tropical or subtropical climate, but is the most cold hardy of the Balakas actually able to survive in some protected areas in warm temperate climates They do not bear temperatures even if just close to 0 °C. Mean maximum temperature of 30-32°C and mean minimum of 21-24°C (USDA Zones 10b-12).
Wind hardiness: Will grow better with slow wind.
Garden uses: The plant is used as an excellent ornamental understory palm. It also does well as a pot plant.
Medicinal use: The bark is used to treat headache and the pericarp of the fruit is used to treat venereal disease. The leaves and roots show antimicrobial activity.
Other uses: It has been used as spears, arcs and as walking sticks and in more recent times as a decorative wall lining similar to a bamboo screen.
Propagation: Seeds. Fresh seeds should germinate in 8 to 12 weeks with bottom heat.
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