Growing New Guinea Palms

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Growing New Guinea Palms

Personal Experiences With Arecinae & Ptychospermatinae

The Subtribes Arecinae and Ptychospermatinae from New Guinea

6 genera in the Arecinae subtribe are represented in New Guinea, according to M. Ferrero (PACSOA Magazine, No.55&56, Apr-Sep 1997) namely;

  1. Gronophyllum
  2. Hydriastele
  3. Siphokentia
  4. Gulubia
  5. Pinanga
  6. Areca

4 genera of the Ptychospermatinae are represented according to Ferrero, namely:

  1. Brassiophoenix
  2. Drymophloeus
  3. Ptychococcus
  4. Ptychosperma

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Contributions from members of the SEQ branch of PACSOA

Nick Craig (D'Aguilar) My in ground Pinangas are Pinanga caesia, P. crassipes, P. coronata, P. javana and P. kuhlii. I am finding Pinanga very rewarding to grow, they look spectacular and after seedling stage seem to be very resilient. I have in pots P. isabelensis, P. punicea var papuana. These have been surviving winter well. I also have in pots Ptychococcus lepidotus, I'm not having a great deal of success with this, it is very slow and still quite small.

Brassiophoenix ... Would someone put me out of my misery and tell me the "secrets".... they sit and look at me for years, don't grow, then die!

Ptychosperma ... I have in the ground Ptychosperma elegans, P. lauterbachii, P. macarthurii, P. nicolai, P. waitianum, P. burretianum and P. holomaluhia. In pots I have P. bleeseri, P. cuneatum and P. hentyi. Some are a little slow when young but all are surviving well, and I feel are very much under rated. Colour and tidy habits stand them generally in good stead!

Drymophloeus ... A Solomon Islands sp I have in ground. I purchased this specimen from Rockhampton. It gets 6 hours of direct sun, is 5 feet tall and has grown easily and fast in an area with poor drainage. It looks spectacular. I dont know why!

David Tanswell (Bardon) Brassiophoenix ... No trouble with B. drymophloeoides/schumannii in bush house up to 200mm pot size.....but.....then they peter out.

Ptychococcus ... David has Ptychococcus lepidotus in ground, doing very well, had small abortive inflorescence last couple of years, expect successful flowering this year. This specimen was slow to develop from seed but speeded up from the 200mm pot stage and is now about 4m high to base of leaves. David advises that P. paradoxus comes from lower altitudes, has a much smaller seed, and is more cold sensitive than P. lepidotus.

Ptychosperma ... David has collected seed from a few species of Ptychosperma in N.G.- including P. lauterbachii which is doing well in his garden and also at Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens. Others in David's garden appear to be variations on P. propinquum, P. microcarpum and P. macarthurii. P. waitianum and P. hentyii are doing well in David's garden. Also different varieties of P. caryotoides - "the N.G. variants are generally smaller than those from Hawaii"

Gronophyllum ... David has collected seed and grown G. chaunostachys. He reports that it is very attractive as a small plant, but has never made it into ground.

Hydriastele ... Has collected a few, including some with very fine leaves but which petered out at the 150mm pot stage. Still have one N.G. species in ground, has 3m of trunk, lost main stem about 3 years ago in cold spell, but suckers coming good.

Gulubia/Siphokentia ... Have had various species over the years but have lost them - maybe due to a lack of attention.

Greg & Carlien Smith (Bulimba) Brassiophoenix ... In his article in PACSOA magazine last year Michael Ferrero advises that, in his view, B. drymophloeoides and B. schumannii are one and the same. We have found them very difficult to grow in pots, in the hothouse, whereever. We are yet to grow one big enough to try in the ground.

Drymophloeus ... We are doing well with both D. begunii and D. oliviformis in a fully shaded, sheltered spot in our garden. The D. begunii is nearly 2 metres tall now and it is one of our all-time favourite palms. We did have 2 specimens but one failed to get enough aerial anchor roots into the ground before a strong wind just snapped it off at ground level back in June this year. Whilst neither of these 2 species come from New Guinea (both from further west, in Indonesia) we are keen to try some of the 4 Drymophloeus species from Irian Jaya.

Gronophyllum ... We have 3 Gronophyllum specimens in our garden, none of which are listed in Michael Ferrero's New Guinea checklist. One however, which was purchased as G. ambon, looks very much like G. ledermannianum with very distinctive yellow veins in the leaves. It is only about 0.6m high after 2 years in a sunny spot but is quite healthy. The other 2 in ground are G. microcarpum and G. sp(?). The latter has retained an entire leaf up to its present size, also about 0.6m high. In pots we have G. affine, G. gibbsianum, G. ledermaaianum, G. mayrii, G. montanum, G. pinangoides, G. pleurocarpum and G. sp. nova 'Filiawoi Yamu' which are from New Guinea. They are pretty palms when young and we look forward to nursing them through to the time when they can be planted out in the garden. Some we have raised from seed, which is not our strong point, most are still quite small, but the Gronophyllum seem to be fairly hardy i.e. more difficult to kill than some of the other New Guinea palms.

Gulubia ... The best Gulubia in our garden is Gulubia macrospadix, but it is not from New Guinea. Of the 3 N.G. species we have G. costata in the garden, which is very slow, and G. longispatha in pot. Our one specimen of G. macrospadix, has been in ground about 4 years, is about 1m high, and is a very attractive and healthy plant.

Hydriastele ... We have Hydriastele microcarpum, H. macrocarpum and H. wendlandiana in our garden. We also have a plant sold to us as H. beccarianum but it doesn't have the characteristic conjoined or fishtail end pinnae. The most vigorous specimen is the H. macrocarpum, which is not listed in Ferrero's checklist of N.G. palms. In fact I am pretty sure we have 2 of these, the other sold to us as a Ptychosperma bleeseri by a nursery in Darwin. Nevertheless they are both about 2.5m high now and very healthy. On the other hand both the H. microcarpum and H. wendlandiana, both from N.G., are very slow in their shady, wet, low-lying spot.

Ptychococcus ... Of the 7 species listed by Ferrero we have only Ptychococcus paradoxus in the garden. Purchased as a 1.5m specimen from Maria's Palmetum 3 years ago it started slowly in our garden but is now flourishing and about 2.5m high. It is one of those skinny but elegant palms, like Chamaedorea tepejelote or Euterpe edulis, which really should be planted in a group, sadly we only have one. We are, however looking forward to planting out a few P. lepidotus this summer - they seem to be very similar to the P. paradoxus?

Ptychosperma ... Well we love Ptychosperma, but we don't pretend to know whether we have the species which we paid for, or another species, or hybrids. We think we have a P. propinquum, or something pretty close. It certainly has clustered leaflets, and is about 4m high after 4 years in our garden at Bulimba and a couple of years at Graceville prior to that. It is an attractive plant, particularly to grasshoppers! Of the species present in N.G. we also have P. ambiguum, P. hentyii, P. lauterbachii, P. macarthurii and P. microcarpum. P. lineare we killed. We look forward to trying P. burretianum,P. salomonense, and P. waitianum in the garden this summer, or next?

Siphokentia ... We purchased 2 specimens of S. "Irian Jaya", one from Maria's in 1995, and the other from a nursery in Darwin in 1996. They are undoubtably the same as each other, and different from Siphokentia beguinii. One we planted in the garden in 1995 - it did nothing for 2 years, looked like dying, but has recently taken off - more 'Organic Life" and forest mulch. The other has remained in a pot, now 300mm, and never misses a beat, indoors or out. Not as decorative as S. beguinii but more robust.

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