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Origin and Habitat: Vanuatu, in the South Pacific (southernmost parts of the archipelago: islands of Tanna, Futuna and Anatom, cultivated and escaped elswhere)
Habitat: Carpoxylon macrospermum are tall, emergent palm found in lowland moist forests in riverine areas and coastal forests on well-drained, moist, rich soils often on valley slopes, where natural stands are extremely rare; they are more commonly found planted near dwellings or small holdings. It grows best in sheltered, partially shady locations. The seedlings tend to grow close to the mother trees in amongst the forest undergrowth, on ground well furnished with leaf litter and humus.
- Carpoxylon macrospermum H.Wendl. & Drude
ENGLISH: Carpoxylon palm
Description: Carpoxylon macrospermum is a monotypic, majestic, tall-growing palm with a huge prominent crownshaft and a large crown of strongly recurved (arching) leaves with pinnate stiff leaflets.
Stem: Solitary, up to 27 m tall, very neat with prominent and closely set leaf scar rings. Internodes either closely spaced to 2 cm on higher parts of trunk or distant to 7 cm apart on adolescent and the lower parts of the mature trunks; The base of the stem is thickened and bottle-shaped to 50 cm in diameter, but it tapers to 25-35 cm diameter at breast height.
Crownshaft: Huge, bright green, columnar, smooth, shiny and particularly imposing in young plants, approximately 1,5-2 meters long; splitting opposite the petiole prior to leaf fall.
Leaves (fronds): Pinnate, diametrically opposed, strongly arcuate toward the apex, and up to 4 m long. Petiole short to 25cm, width at attachment to crownshaft 15cm. Rachis flexible, broadly ridged on the upper surface. Pinnae (leaflets) stiffly erect, coriacous, closely knit the longest median up to 1,5 m long, dark green above, grey-green beneath; light yellowish green in the 2 cm at base,.
Inflorescences: Twice branched, emerging below the crownshaft.
Fruits: Obovate,,about 7 cm long by 4 cm in diameter, becoming bright orange or red on maturity. at maturity and enclosing a single seed.
Seed: Large, woody, oblong-ovoid flattened at the base; raphe fibres attached longitudinally; endocarp papery with pale streaks on the seed coat; endosperm jellyish, white, central cavity with clear liquid.
Remarks: The eccentric, subapical stigmatic scar on the fruit distinguishes Carpoxylon macrospermum from Veitchia species, which all have apical stigmatic scars.
Bibliography: Major references
1) Dowe, J.L. 1989. “The unexpected rediscovery of Carpoxylon macrospermum.” Principes33: 63–67.
2) Dowe, J.L. 1996. “Uses of some indigenous Vanuatu palms.” Principes 40: 93-102.
3) Dowe, J.L. & P. Cabalion. 1996. “A taxonomic account of Arecaceae in Vanuatu, with descriptions of three new species.” Australian Systematic Botany 9:1-60.
4) Fry, K., S. Siwatibau & C. Clarkin 1997. “Conservation of a rare palm species through enterprise developments”, pp. 87–95. Sixth South Pacific Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, Volume 3. Conference Papers. Sue Miller & Joanna Sim (eds.) South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Apia, Samoa.
5) J. Dransfield & N. W. Uhl (1998). "Palmae". In Klaus Kubitzki. Flowering plants, Monocotyledons: Alismatanae and Commelinanae (except Gramineae). The families and genera of vascular plants. 4. Springer. p. 361. ISBN 978-3-540-64061-5.
6) J. L. Dowl (1998). "Carpoxylon macrospermum". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved July 20, 2007.
Cultivation and Propagation: This is one of the most ornamental palm highly sought after by palm collectors. Both fast growing and easy to cultivate it will reward the gardener with growth and beauty and therefore has great potential in horticulture. When young and placed in pots for indoor is of rare beauty. It is the 'perfect' palm in appearance some say.
Growth Rate: Moderate to fast growing if given adequate fertilizer.
Soil: It grows well in moist, rich and sandy but well drained soils and benefit from decomposing organic matter added to the soil, but is widely adaptable to many kinds of well drained soils.
Fertilization: It requires little of fertilizer. Use a perfect fertilizer diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements or slow release fertilizer applied during the growing season, or according to package directions, using a fertilizer specifically formulated for palms.
Planting: The only drawback of this palm is usually shows signs of stress when acclimating to new areas when moved or planted. They tend to brown on the leaf tips for the first few months, but come back as strong as ever.
Water Requirements: It prefers evenly moist but not consistently wet medium. When supplied with adequate moisture and fertilizer it is also fairly fast growing. Once established it can tolerate short periods of drought. It dislikes soggy soils.
Light: Prefers shade as a youngster, but grows into full sun.
Salt tolerance: It is moderately tolerant of seaside spray and if grown near the sea, best if given some protection (behind a dune, building, etc.), but does a lot better inland then it does on the coast. It does not take well to being inundated by salt or brackish water.
Wind resistance: Moderate. The leaves can burn if exposed to drying winds.
Hardiness: It is a palm for the tropics adapted to USDA zones 10-11. However it can handle light frosts and freezes if properly protected or kept under canopy, but the leaves can burn if exposed to cold.
Roots: Usually not a problem
Maintenance: The fronds are self cleaning.
Pest and diseases: Aphids; scales.
Human hazards: None
Uses: It is primarily used as ornamental palms in parks and gardens as specimen tree planted alone or in groups. It is used along roadways, in parking lots, yards, patios. It is also excellent in containers and urns.
Traditional uses: The stem was used as a building material and the enlarged base were prepared as feed for domestic pigs. The leaflets can be used as a traditional roofing material in the same way as the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). The roots are used in the preparation of numerous remedies.
Food uses: The immature (green) fruits resembling green coconut in texture and flavour are edible and are often eaten by local inhabitants. The fruits are split between the teeth, prised apart with the thumbs and slurped. The flavour is much fuller than green coconut. The palm hearts are occasionally used to make salads, being mixed with coconut juice.
Propagation: By seed. Can be grown from de-pulped seed.
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