Carpoxylon macrospermum

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Figure 1.

Contents

Descriptive Notes:

Carpoxylon macrospermum H.A. Wendland and Drude. 30th November 1987. Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.

General Aspect:

A graceful, tall, emergent, pinnately leaved palm with a well developed shiny, green crownshaft. Leaves strongly arcuate toward the apex, distinctive stiffly erect pinnae. Fruiting parts held below the crownshaft, staged, twice branched, with large fruits becoming bright orange on maturity. Four specimens were sighted in a close group; three having reached reproductive age, one large adolescent; a number of scattered seedlings were emerging from the holes of coconut crabs in the vicinity beneath the palms; Local vdlages reported that scattered individuals occured further up-stream.


Trunk:

tallest to about 18m; base expanded to 50cm diameter, upward of 1 m above ground-level a uniform 35cm in diameter attained for much of the height; internodes either closely spaced to 2cm on higher parts of trunk or distant to 7cm apart on adolescent and the lower parts of the mature trunks; anular rings slightly raised, white; intersurface smooth, dull green, turning grey with age.

Crownshaft:

large, columnar, 1.5 - 2.O m, shining uniform green, smooth; splitting opposite the petiole prior to leaf fall.

Leaf:

large 3.5 - 4.0m, becoming strongly arcuate toward the apex; petiole short to 25cm, width at attachment to crownshaft 15cm; rachis flexible, broadly ridged on the upper surface, this ridge constricting to a sharp edge at mid leaf and extending into the apex and beyond the apical pair of pinnae for 12cm, forming a strong flexible extension; undersurface smooth, rounded, dull green.

Pinnae:

linear, 3.5 - 4.0cm wide, acuminate; basal pinnae to 30cm, mid-leaf pinnae to 1.5m, apical pinnae to 20cm, stiffly coriacous, dull-green above, grey-green beneath; light yellowish green in the 2cm at base; 69 per side, progressively wider spaced form apex, 3.5cm apart to 8cm apart at the base; apical pinnae attached to rachis at 180&deg to each other, mid-leaf pinnae steeply ascending with a divergent angle of 40&deg, basal pinnae set at an angle of 150° prominently, flexibly veined; mid-vein most prominent of seven evenly spaced veins, marginal vein more prominent than the 2 intermediate veins.

Inflorescence::

unknown, collection presently being arranged.

Infructesence:

large and spreading, attached directly below the crownshaft; 4-6 in progressive stages of development; peduncle stout, to 14cm, elipsoidal in crosssection; 7cm broad at basal bract scar, 5.5cm at second bract scar, 4.5cm at third bract scar, bract scars 5cm apart; twice branched, primary branch 38cm in length, flat sided in four planes, axis 20cm from the base of peduncle; subsequent branches loosely arranged and inserted at 4cm intervals; progressively smaller toward the apex; primary rachillae attached 5cm from the axis; subsequent rachillae loosely arranged, evenly spaced; basal rachillae to 40cm in length, apical 2/3 thin and shrivelled; 2-6 fruits attached to base ; apical rachillae to 20cm in length, only 1 fruit attached to base; all infructescence surfaces smooth and uniform mid-green.

Fruits:

large ovoid-elipsoidal, with eccentric apical stigmatic remains; epicarp smooth, lightly pleated in the basal 1 cm; mesocarp, thin, dry, fibrous, yellowish; seed large, oblong-ovoid flattened at the base; raphe fibres attached longitudinally;, endocarp papery; endosperm jellyish, white, central cavitywith clear liquid; mature fruits bright orange; germination adjacent; eophyll bifid.

Uses:

The fruits are edible, resembling green coconut in texture and flavour and considered somewhat of a delicacy by the local villagers. The fruits are split between the teeth, prised apart with the thumbs and slurped. The flavour is much fuller than green coconut, as I can attest to. The palm hearts are occasionally used to make salads, being mixed with coconut juice. The local name is 'ninuvusa'.

Figure 1. Young C. macrospermum, growing strongly.
Figure 2. C. macrospermum butt.


Contributed by:

ohn Dowe Reproduced from Palms & Cycads No. 18, Jan-Mar 1988.

External Links:

Kew, PalmWeb, IUCN, JSTOR, Trebrown

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