P. remota is on the US Federal Endangered species list.
Distribution & Habitat:
The type grows on the Hawaiian island of Nihoa or "Bird Island", off the northwest coast of Kauai.
These are small palms, 4-5 metres high, with a slim ringed trunk around 150 mm in diameter. (Figure 1). The crown is dense and untidy looking due to the deeply divided leaves with drooping tips. The leaves are smooth on the top surface, but slightly waxy and very lightly covered with tiny scales on the lower side. The large, many branched inflorescence is shorter than the petiole (Figure 3). The fruits are ovoid, approximately 20 x 18 mm and the seed is 13-15 mm in diameter (Figure 5).
A species said by Beccari in 1921 to "approach P. hillebrandii more than any other" however, the crown of P. remota is more "untidy" than P. hillebrandii and the leaves are much more deeply divided.
Wagner, Herbst & Sohmer have classified a number of palms as belonging to the Pritchardia remota complex. The additional palms are: P. aylmer-robinsonii , P. glabrata and P. napaliensis , in addition, D. W. Read included P. wailealeana within the remota complex.
This is the north most naturally occurring Pritchardia. It is easily grown in sub-tropical areas and can be grown in warm temperate climates.
Figure 1. P. remota
Figure 2. P. remota seedlings.
Figure 3. P. remota inflorescence
Figure 4. P. remota seeds
Figure 5. P. remota
The Hawaian species of Pritchardia are of especial interest to those studying adaptive radiation of species. One of the first islands in the chain to emerge from the sea was the Island of Nihoa, and presumably the species in the P. remota group originated on these islands.
Melany Chapin writes:
Starting from the uninhabited Northwestern island of Island of Nihoa, P. remota thrives with 600 to 700 palms in two forests within the intact dryland ecosystem. No rats or grazing animals have escaped to Nihoa so Pritchardia can be seen in a pristine state. The palm crowns create a thick canopy and the fronds cover the understory of the forest. These spectacular small palms have huge wavy leaves with drooping leaflet tips, extensive, short inflorescences and small fruits (Chapin 1990; Conant 1985). The island is owned by the Federal government and is part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Niiahu, or the forbidden island, is an inhabited, privately owned island, home of P. aylmer-robinsonii . Although only two wild trees are known, the residents cultivate the palm on Niihau; and it has been brought into cultivation elsewhere including Botanic Gardens. This medium sized palm has graceful, lax, green leaves that are somewhat weepy with small, black fruits.
References: 1. Wagner, W.L., Herbst, D.R. & Sohmer, S.H. (1990) Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawaii Vol. 1-2. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 2. Beccari and Rock, Pritchardia 1921 3. Chapin, M.H. The palms of Hawaii
Contributed by: Chris King (Text) Jeff White (Figure 1). Greg Roulinavage (Figure 2,3&5). Melany Chapin (Figure 4).
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