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P. humilis, P. hanceana
Mountain date palm,
Loureir's date palm
Distribution & Habitat:
Open lowland, semi deciduous forest, mountain sides, exposed grassy coastal plains and windswept islands, edges of seasonally flooded areas, immediately on water edge of low lying river/stream banks, edges of swampy ground, mangroves and banks of rice paddies, also densely colonising disturbed shrubby, over grazed or abandoned open areas of agriculture. South-east Asia, Southern China and India. Seed dispersed by birds and bats, small mammals after the sweet fruit, widely distributed and often near feeding, roosting or watering sites. Locally common or very rare and or widely scattered primarily by fruit eaters.
Very variable, displaying marked polymorphism with many sharply distinct forms. A short robust to medium sized solitary or clumping palm, reclining or upright from 3 - 5m tall, the shorter forms tend to be exposed on shallow soils. Superficial resemblance to P. sylvestris with it's plumose sometimes shorter often sharply recurved leaf and long but wider sharp leaflets. Generaly blue green, to silvery grey, fruiting trunkless. Where it grows near introduced Phoenix species there is ready hybridisation.
Forms of Phoenix loureiroi are particularly attractive as garden subjects, more so the highly desirable silvery forms, and not commonly seen in cultivation, collections. With their cycad like textured trunks and dense wide long very plumose spiny leaflets they lend texture, form and structure. These along with P. sylvestris, P. roebelenii and P. rupicola are the few easiest Phoenix species for high warmth, humidity, rainfall suffering no fungal problems at all. Sunny, well drained, but moist position, can take a fair amount of dense shade from low thicket as a seedling or juvenile. Grows quickest with warm temperatures, high humidity and high summer rainfall, short dry cool winter in sub-tropical to tropical areas.
Some forms from higher altitudes can also tolerate a few degrees of very short lived annual frost events especially as more mature specimens. With regular thorough watering and feeding on good deep soil it's a reasonably fast robust grower in cultivation. Faster in tropical or subtropical climates, where it tends to get much taller with a larger though as characteristically attractive canopy and straighter trunk. Similarly it thrives on neglect where it will form an extremely slow growing thick set reclining short clump or single specimen with a much reduced in width sharply recurved canopy, or if the soil and exposure and care are particularly bad no trunk at all. Highly ornamental even as a juvenile.
Rolf Kyburz (Figure 1)
Miguel Basomba (Figure 2)