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Origin and Habitat: China (Hainan Island in southern China)
Habitat: Lowland rain forest and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests at low elevations. The palm occurs in a nature reserve and highly endangered by habitat loss and by over-exploitation of canes.
- Chuniophoenix hainanensis Burret
CHINESE (中文): 琼棕 (qiong zong)
Description: Chuniophoenix hainanensis is a ery ornamental small and beautiful forest palm, unarmed, clustering with many stocky stems. It is a a pleonanthic, hermaphroditic or polygamodioecious.
Stems: Clustered, 4-5 m tall (but often less in cultivation) and 4-6(-10) cm in diameter, bare with deciduous leaf sheaths.
Crown: with 15-20 leaves.
Leaves: Up to 120 cm across, palmate (without an evident hastula at the apex of the petiole). Petiole up to 90 cm long, elongate, smooth-margined, deeply channelled, white, usually covered with floccose indumentum. Leaf sheaths open, swollen, on older plants, may split at the base to give a central triangular cleft. Leaf blades green with remarkably white undersides, irregularly divided into 35-45 leaflets of varying widths up to 50 cm long and 1,8-2,5 cm wide. The seedling leaf is undivided.
Inflorescences: Infrafoliar, , arching below leaves, spicate or branched to three orders up to 2 m long, with many rachillae (flowering branches) 10-20 cm long with several persistent, tubular bracts covering the peduncle and rachis. Flowers mostly solitary bisexual in small groups (simple cincinni) each subtended by a small, tubular bracts. Petals purple.
Fruits: One-seeded obovoid to pear-shaped, to 2.5cm long and 2.2 cm diameter, red, orange, or purple, borne on short stalks. Occasionally it forms bulbil-shoots on the infructescence stalk.
Seed: The endosperm is ruminate or homogeneous.
Remarks: This is a tillering palm that exhibits saxophone style root growth.
Bibliography: Major references
1) China Plant Specialist Group 2004. “Chuniophoenix hainanensis” 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
2) Dennis Victor Johnson “Palms: Their Conservation and Sustained Utilization : Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan” IUCN, 1996. Page 57
3) Klaus Kubitzki “Flowering Plants. Monocotyledons: Alismatanae and Commelinanae (except Gramineae)” Springer, 01/ott/1998 page 332.
4) Andrew Henderson “Palms of Southern Asia” Princeton University Press, 27/apr/2009 Page 97
5) “Chuniophoenix hainanensis” in Flora of China @ efloras.org [http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200027075 accessed on 16 Jan. 2013]
Cultivation and Propagation: Chuniophoenix hainanensis is an excellent easy to grow palm adapt to tropical and subtropical climates. It's a slow grower almost unknown to cultivation, but worth it. It is also one of the most elegant and durable indoor palms. It is perfect, both for container planting or grown on the ground, and ideal too for indoors or outdoors.
Soil requirements: It prefers fertile, organic, moist, well drained soils except those that are constantly soggy. However it is widely adaptable including those that are neutral, acidic, clayey and slightly alkaline, provided they are free-draining.
Watering: Chuniophoenix prefers very copious waterings (less if well mulched) and should be watered before the soil completely dries. Help soil conserving its humidity with heavy groundcover mulch , which affords a rich decaying organic base. Chuniophoenix roots are shallow, and spreading, so it loves to explore and insinuate themselves into this rich mulch, which must be constantly wet. Don't let sit in water. Indoor, potted Chuniophoenix should not be over-watered.
Light: Outside in dappled light to deep shade, it grows well also on an eastern exposure, featuring filtered morning sun, but can stand full sun in the tropics (high constant atmospheric humidity), though the leaves may sometimes get scorched by direct sunlight. Young specimens need protection from direct sunlight and grow best in shady to partly shady locations. If home-grown, they look their best in bright diffuse light but tolerate low light levels. When growing as a patio palm, it would be a good idea to remember that they should not be grown in direct sun.
Fertilization: Need a perfect low-release fertilizer (e.g., 18-18-18) diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements, for enhanced vigour of top growth (a deeper green), but any specific palm Fertiliser would be fine, along with occasional Mg & Mn Sulphate soil "drenches".
Aerosol salt tolerance: Not tolerant, so beachside planting would not be a good idea.
Hardiness: They grow well in tropical and subtropical climates (USDA hardiness zones 10-11), and mature, established specimens can tolerate temperatures ranging from 0° C to 40° C. Minimum tolerated temperature is about -3 °C, or little less, just for a very short time.
Wind hardiness: Protect it from air movement, and keep some air humidity around it It cannot tolerate at all sweltering heat and windy conditions, remember, this is an understory rainforest tree!
Maintenance: It will rarely need pruning only removal of browned-out fronds or leaves. Remove spent flowering spikes to avoid harbouring pests such as mealy bugs.
Garden use: Great understory, clumping palm for moist gardens where something with palmate leaves is desired. It may also be used as indoor plant, for its elegance, since the very first years of age, the adaptability to conditions of scarce luminosity, and the absence of particular attentions. When young it is well suited for table decoration.
Traditional uses: Its durable sterns are much sought after for the manufacture of arts and crafts.
Disease & Pests: Generally, it’s free of serious diseases and pests. Protect from frost.
Propagation: By fresh seeds and division of larger specimens.
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