Corypha L., Sp. Pl. : 1187 (1753)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Andaman Is.present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Assampresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Bangladeshpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Borneopresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Cambodiapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Indiapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Lesser Sunda Is.present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Malayapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Malukupresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Myanmarpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
New Guineapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Northern Territorypresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Philippinespresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Queenslandpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Sri Lankapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Sulawesipresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Sumaterapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Thailandpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Vietnampresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Six recognised species, but probably fewer, ranging from southern India and Sri Lanka, to the Bay of Bengal, and from Indochina through Malesia to northern Australia; distribution probably much influenced by man. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A



Biology And Ecology




  • Massive, solitary, armed, hapaxanthic, hermaphroditic, tree palms. Stem erect, closely ringed with leaf scars sometimes in distinct spirals. Leaves induplicate, costapalmate, marcescent in immature individuals, tending to abscise under their own weight in trunked individuals; sheath sometimes with lateral lobes, later sometimes with a conspicuous triangular cleft below the petiole, the margins tending to erode into fibres; petiole massive, long, covered with caducous indumentum, adaxially deeply channelled, abaxially rounded, margins with well-defined teeth; adaxial hastula well developed, abaxial hastula rather irregular; blade regularly divided to ca. 1/2 its radius into single-fold segments, these in turn shallowly divided along the abaxial folds, filaments present at upper folds in young leaves, segments with prominent longitudinal veins, abundant transverse veinlets and caducous floccose indumentum along the folds, indumentum more abundant abaxially. Inflorescences above the leaves, subtended by reduced, scale-like leaves, forming a massive, compound inflorescence-like structure; individual inflorescences emerging from the mouths of the bract-like leaves or through an abaxial split, branched to the third order, all branches ending as rachillae; prophyll of inflorescences 2-keeled, empty; bracts tubular, the proximal 0–several empty, other bracts inconspicuous, triangular, each subtending a first or higher order branch; rachillae bearing spirally arranged, adnate cincinni of up to 10 flowers; floral bracteoles minute. Flowers borne on short stalks formed by the base of the calyx and the receptacle; calyx tubular basally, with 3 low, triangular lobes; petals ± boat-shaped, basally imbricate, the margins usually inrolled, stamens 6, the 3 antesepalous free, the 3 antepetalous adnate basally to the petals, filaments tapering from a fleshy base; anthers short, somewhat sagittate basally, medifixed, latrorse; gynoecium tricarpellate, syncarpous, triovulate, ovary globose, distinctly 3-grooved, style elongate, slightly 3-grooved, stigma scarcely differentiated, ovule hemianatropous. Pollen ellipsoidal, usually slightly asymmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, reticulate or foveolate-reticulate, aperture margin psilate or scabrate; infratectum columellate; longest axis 28–40 µm [3/8]. Fruit globose, single-seeded with basal stigmatic remains; epicarp smooth, mesocarp fleshy, endocarp thin, usually remaining attached to the seed. Seed globose, with basal hilum, and shallow grooves corresponding to the rapheal bundles, endosperm homogeneous, with or without a central hollow; embryo apical. Germination remote-tubular; eophyll entire, lanceolate. Cytology: 2n = 36. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A

Fossil record

  • Two species of fossil palm fruits are described (C. umbraculifera). Corypha has a wide range of uses and is from exposed Lower Palaeocene (Danian) deposits in the intensively exploited. Leaves are used for thatch, writing interior of Nûgssuaq, West Greenland: Coryphoides poulsenii material, umbrellas, buckets, etc. The stem has been used as a B.E. Koch and Coryphoicarpus globoides B.E. Koch (Koch source of starch. 1972), but their affinity needs reassessment. From the Lower Eocene (London Clay flora) of southern England, a palm-like seed, Palmospermum pulchrum (Chandler 1961b, 1961c), and an internal cast of a seed, Corypha wilkinsoni (Chandler 1978), were said to resemble present-day Malayan ‘Corypha olivaeformis’, especially C. wilkinsoni. However, as ‘C. olivaeformis’ has never been described, the identity of the modern equivalent is not known. From the Indian Deccan Intertrappean of Madhya Pradesh (although the age span of these volcanic deposits is controversial, see Chapter 5), Ambwani and Mehrotra (1989) record a new fossil palm wood, Palmoxylon toroides, which they consider has affinities with Corypha (although comparisons of palm stem wood to generic level should always be viewed with caution). Monocolpate pollen from the Lower Miocene of Poland (Macko 1957) has been compared to Corypha pollen, but the pollen is of too general a coryphoid type to be conclusive. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A


Taxonomic accounts