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Accepted Scientific Name: Borassus schumannii (Becc.) Essig
Principes 19: 102 (1975)
Origin and Habitat: North-east and eastern New guinea (East Sepik District,
Madang District, Morohe District, Northern District, Milne Bay District).
Habitat: Mixed lowland rain forest and coastal rain forest often on clayey soils.
CHINESE (中文): Shu tou mu
FRENCH (Français): Borassodendron
MALAY (بهاس ملاي /Bahasa Melayu ): Bindang
Description: Brassiophoenix schumannii is a monoecious small to medium sized solitary palm with gracefull fish-tail spreading leaves.
Trunk: Single slender around 2-10 m in height on 3-8 cm in diameter light green turning grey-brown toward the base.
Crown: with about 9 spreading fronds, somewhat drawn out and sparse.
Crownshafts: Up to 60 cm tall, but usually 34-40 cm tall, slightly bulging.
Leaves: Stiff, unarching, pinnate up to 2 m in length; petioles absent or very short; Piannae (leaflets) 8-10 on each side regularly spaced diamond-shaped, 30 cm long and dark green in colour, apical pinna wedge-shaped. The leaflets are praemorsely thrice lobed, the central lobe being deepest, forming unusual jagged apices, 38-68 cm long on the midrib, 22-27 cm broad just below the two deep notches. Sheath 30-50 cm. long, densely white woolly. Petiole 20-45 cm long, densely white woolly with dark, irregular ramenta; rachis 130-300 cm long, dull-green with dark scales, sometimes very densely lepidote around and on base of the pinnae;
Inflorescence: Infrafoliar emerging from beneath the crownshaft, 2 (or 3)-branched, 25-74 cm long, 22-58 cm wide, with dense, dark hairs on the inflorescence branches bearing male and female flowers.
Flowers: Cream-colored or yellowgreen, glabrous or sparsely punctate; staminate flowers 7-9 mm long, 3-5 mm. wide, with calyx about 2-2.5 mm high, stamens about 130-200; pistillate buds about 6 mm high and 4-6 mm broad at anthesis.
Fruits: Ellipsoid, each with one seed, 31-35 mm long, 17-19 mm in diameter, orange pale yellow-orange or red when mature with a nine-lobed wing-like endocarp. When dry, outer part of the fruit wall drying in close conformity to the angled endocarp when incompletely ripe, but drying apart from the endocarp when fully ripe.
Seeds: 5-grooved with the lobes squarish or acute in cross-section, endosperm homogeneous.
Bibliography: Major references
1) Don Ellison, Anthony Ellison “Cultivated Palms Of The World” UNSW Press, 01/mag/2001 page 46
2) Riffle, Robert L. and Craft, Paul (2003) “An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms.” Portland: Timber Press. ISBN 0-88192-558-6 / ISBN 978-0-88192-558-6
3) Uhl, Natalie W. and Dransfield, John (1987) “Genera Palmarum - A classification of palms based on the work of Harold E. Moore.” Lawrence, Kansas: Allen Press. ISBN 0-935868-30-5 / ISBN 978-0-935868-30-2
4) Essig “Brassiophoenix“ Princeps [Vol. 19] 1975 page 102-103
Cultivation and Propagation: This is a rare palm mainly cultivated by specialist palm growers and botanical gardens in tropical countries, but still scarcely known in cultivation. It is shade-loving palm adapt to tropical climates. Makes a nice, neat potted specimen plant for the tropics.
Growth rate: Medium.
Remarks: This species has the fame of being very difficult to grow as it develops regularly to about the 20 cm pot size, and then just stop, and then eventually die.
Soil requirements: It has a fibrous root system and benefits from well drained deep fertile humus-rich soils, but thrives on wide range of tropical soils best in acidic to somewhat alkaline. Waterlogged, highly lateritic, extremely, stony or peaty soils should be avoided.
Watering: They appreciate a consistently moist soil, but do not overwater. During the summer or warmer months, water frequently to keep the soil from drying out.
Light: As with many rain forest palms, they are not tolerant of full sun in youth but will withstand it in maturity. Seedlings like a more sheltered area.
Fertilization: Need a perfect fertilizer diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements.
Aerosol salt tolerance: Has no salt tolerance.
Wind tolerance: It needs wind protection. Dry winds easily damage or kill it.
Hardiness: It is suited for tropical or subtropical climate (USDA Zones 10-11) and require protection from cold.
Traditional uses: It is used as a substitute for betel (Areca catechu).
Garden uses: It is rarely cultivated, but is a very tropical looking excellent palm. Young plants have a small stature and the shape and colour of the leaves has the potential to be used as an ornamental plant. It is ideal where garden space is limited and a small plant is required. It is a great collector's palm.
Hazard: None recorded.
Propagation: Seeds. Seeds germinate in 2-4 months with bottom heat, the dryed fleshy part of the fruit needs to he removed from the seed before you attempt to plant it.
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