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Origin and Habitat: North eastern part of the Grande Terre region (main island) in New Caledonia.
Altitude: Around 1200 m above sea leve,.
Habitat: Cyphophoenix elegans medium sized emergant palm known from only a few small population found in residual gallery forests, rain forest, slopes and other habitats. It grows on deep shale (schistose) rocks in marked contrast to the raised coral of Lifou Island on which the related Cyphophoenix nucele grows.
Description: Cyphophoenix elegans is a very attractive, moderate-sized, solitary tree-palm to 12 m tall.
Trunk: Very ornamental, up to 12 m tall, 10-20 cm in diameter, a little enlarged at the base, smooth yellow-green and prominently ringed by leaf scars.
Crown: Of about 8 pinnate leaves that arch nicely.
Crownshaft: 50 to 90 cm. long, olive green, prominent, velvety, covered with a greyish tomentum.
Leaves: Pinnate about 2 m long, significantly upright.
Sheath: Light green, pale-floccose internally except at base, densely pale floccose-lepidote externally, about 55-60 cm long.
Petiole: Short glabrous above, scaly to tomentose beneath.
Rachis: Recurved, dark brown scaly to tomentose.
Pinnae (leaflets): Stiff, erect, thick and leathery, about 40 on each side, dark green and glossy above, light green, glossy, and minutely lepidote beneath. Basal pinnae often close together slender, up to 50 cm long and 2,5-8 cm wide, median pinnae about 80 cm long, 3,6 cm wide, apical pinnae about 40 cm long, 3 cm wide.
Inflorescence: 50-60 cm long, to 90 cm wide at the base, glabrous, slightly reddish when young, green when mature, peduncle, 3-7 cm long;
Fruit: Fresh fruit ovoid, 19 mm long and 13 mm in diameter, red with apical stigmatic remains when ripe.
Seeds: Ellipsoid, about 1,7 mm long 7 mm wide.
Bibliography: 1) Daniker, A.U. (1932). “Ergebnisse der Reise von Dr. A.U. Daniker nach Neu-Caledonien und den Loyalty-Inseln (1924/6)”. 4. Katalog der Pteridophyta und Embryophyta siphonogama. Vjschr. naturf. Ges. Zurich 77, Beibl. 19: 88.
2) Moore, H.E., Jr. (1976). “New Species of Brongniar-tikentia and Cyphophoenix (Palmae)” Gentes Herb. 11(3): 160-167.
3) Gren Lucas, Hugh Synge “Iucn Plant Red Data Book: Comprising Red Data Sheets on 250 Selected Plants Threatened on a World Scale” IUCN, 1978
4) Natalie W. Uhl, John Dransfield, Harold Emery Moore “Genera Palmarum: a classification of palms based on the work of Harold E. Moore”, Jr L.H. Bailey Hortorium and the International Palm Society, 1987
Cultivation and Propagation: This is an excellent palm occasionally cultivated by specialist palm growers and botanical gardens in tropical countries, but scarcely known in cultivation. It is adapt to warm temperate to tropical climates and seems pretty tolerant of lots of adverse situations. Young plants are slow growing, but once established, will grow quite fast and does well in cultivation.
Soil requirements: It has a fibrous root system and benefits from deep sandy loam soils that are fertile and well drained but thrives on wide range of tropical soils. Waterlogged, highly lateritic, extremely, stony or peaty soils should be avoided.
Watering: Water regularly; do not overwater. During the summer or warmer months, water frequently to keep the soil from drying out, but tolerate irregular watering schedules.
Light: It grow in full sun, but seems to prefer some shade until trunking.
Fertilization: Need a perfect fertilizer diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements.
Aerosol salt tolerance: Tolerant.
Wind tolerance: It is tolerant of wind.
Hardiness: It is suited for tropical or subtropical climate, but can handle some frost (USDA Zones 9b-11) Tolerated Temperature is about 0 °C, or little less, just for a very short time. It may also survive in the warmest Mediterranean micro-climate but growth is very slow.
Wind hardiness: It needs wind protection.
Garden uses: It is rarely cultivated, but is a very tropical looking excellent relatively hardy palm. It too slow to be of any commercial landscaping value, but a great collector's palm. It is ideal where garden space is limited and a small plant is required, as long as you plan on living for several decades at least. It is also an excellent potted palm.
Hazard: It is fairly harmless.
Traditional uses: The stems of this palm are used to make harpoons and the leaves are used for thatching.
Propagation: Seeds are hard to germinate. The young plants only puts out 1-2 leaves a year, but robust.
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