Caryota clumping

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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 [[" Palm Talk, by Dr. John Dransfield).

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