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To put the record straight, there are, in fact, three clumping species of Caryota described.
1. Caryota mitis - we all know this one - it's incredibly variable and the variation can be rather perplexing.
2. Caryota monostachya - this is a low clumping species of southern China and Vietnam. It looks when growing like a clumped juvenile of C. mitis, but when it flowers it's unmistakable, because the inflorescences are all unbranched - great big fat spikes - altogether very distinctive. I have seen this in the wild in Yunnan, and in cultivation in Quangzhou - and we also have a few specimens in the herbarium at Kew from Vietnam.
3. Caryota sympetala - a clumping species from Lao PDR and Vietnam. Again it looks like a juvenile of C. mitis until it flowers. Its inflorscences are shorter, fatter and altogether more massive than C. mitis, yet they are borne on a short (rarely more than 1.5 m tall) slender stem. There are also good differences in the flowers and fruit. I have seen this species growing along rivers in seasonal forest at c. 700 m elevation in Lao.
(from a posting to the IPS's [[www.palmtalk.org" Palm Talk, by Dr. John Dransfield).
[http://www.google.com/search?q=%22Caryota+clumping %22&num=10&sa=Google+Search Google], [http://images.google.com/images?q=%22Caryota+clumping %22&hl=en&btnG=Google+Search Google Images], [http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Caryota+clumping
[http://www.google.com/search?q=%22Caryota+clumping %22%20site:http://forum.pacsoa.org.au/&sa=Google+Search PACSOA Forums], [http://www.google.com/search?q=%22Caryota+clumping %22%20site:http://www.palmtalk.org/&sa=Google+Search PalmTalk]