Caryota L., Sp. Pl. : 1189 (1753)

Primary tabs

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Distribution

Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/tdwg/geogrphy.html)
Andaman Is.present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Assampresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Bangladeshpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Bismarck Archipelagopresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Borneopresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Cambodiapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
China South-Centralpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
China Southeastpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Comorospresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Hainanpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Indiapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Jawapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Laospresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Malayapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Malukupresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Myanmarpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Nepalpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
New Guineapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Nicobar Is.present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Ogasawara-shotopresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Philippinespresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Queenslandpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Solomon Is.present (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
Vanuatupresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Vietnampresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
About 13 species occurring from Sri Lanka, India, southern China, southwards through Southeast Asia, Malesia to northern Australia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A

Discussion

  • The bipinnate leaf is unique in the palms. The recently described Caryota ophiopellis and C. zebrina are unusual in having inflorescences branched to more than one order and homogeneous rather than ruminate endosperm, features of Arenga rather than of Caryota. The clarification of the relationships between these two species will have to wait until a full phylogeny of the Caryoteae is completed. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A

Diagnosis

  • Solitary or clustered, monoecious hapaxanthic palms of South and Southeast Asia to the western Pacific, instantly recognisable by the doubly pinnate leaf with fishtail leaflets. (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

  • Ranging from monsoon climates to perhumid areas, from sea level to ca. 2000 m in the mountains, in secondary forest (especially Caryota mitis) and in primary forest. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A

Common Name

  • Fishtail palms. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A

Etymology

  • From karuotos, karyon — a nut, nut-bearing. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A

Uses

  • All species appear to be utilised in some way. The apex is edible and good. Stems provide sago, the larger species being especially favoured. Timber of Caryota urens is used for construction purposes. Leaf sheath fibres are extremely durable and harvested for thatch, cordage, and other purposes. The woolly indumentum on leaf sheaths, petioles, and rachis is used variously as tinder or wadding. Inflorescences, especially of C. urens, are tapped for palm wine or sugar. There are several other minor local uses. Many species are cultivated as ornamentals. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A

Description

  • Moderate to large, solitary or clustered, hapaxanthic, monoecious palms. Stems with ± elongate internodes, obscured at first by persistent fibrous leaf bases and sheaths, usually becoming bare, conspicuously ringed with narrow leaf scars, striate. Leaves induplicately bipinnate (except in juveniles where pinnate), marcescent or abscising under their own weight; sheath triangular, eroding opposite the petiole into a mass of strong black fibres, a ligule-like extension frequently present, disintegrating into strong black fibres, the sheath surface covered in a dense felt of indumentum and caducous chocolate-brown scales, sometimes in broad stripes; petiole scarcely to well developed, channelled adaxially, rounded abaxially, bearing indumentum like the sheath; secondary rachises similar in form to the primary rachis, arranged ± regularly except rarely in 1 or 2 species where the most proximal few crowded; leaflets very numerous, borne ± regularly along the secondary rachises, obliquely wedge-shaped with no distinct midrib but several major veins diverging from the swollen, sometimes stalk-like base, upper margins deeply praemorse, blade concolorous, with broad bands of caducous chocolate-brown scales abaxially, transverse veinlets obscure. Inflorescences bisexual, solitary, produced in a basipetal sequence, interfoliar and sometimes infrafoliar (the proximal few), usually branched to 1 order, rarely to 2 orders (Caryota ophiopellis) or 3 orders (C. zebrina) or rarely spicate (C. monostachya), usually pendulous; peduncle ± circular in cross-section, densely scaly; prophyll tubular at first, soon splitting, 2-keeled, relatively small, densely tomentose and/or scaly; peduncular bracts to ca. 8, conspicuous, large, enclosing the inflorescence in bud, coriaceous, tubular at first, tending to split irregularly, usually densely tomentose and/or scaly; rachis shorter or longer than the peduncle; rachillae spirally arranged, densely crowded, usually scaly, each subtended by a small, low, triangular bract; the rachilla base usually somewhat swollen, with a short to moderately long bare section above this, distal portion of rachilla bearing close or rather distant, spirally arranged, protandrous triads, each subtended by an inconspicuous rachilla bract; floral bracteoles shallow, rounded. Staminate flowers usually ± elongate, symmetrical; sepals 3, ± distinct, coriaceous, ± rounded, imbricate; petals 3, valvate, coriaceous, connate at the very base, considerably exceeding the sepals; stamens 6–ca. 100, the filaments short, basally sometimes connate, anthers ± linear, latrorse, the connective sometimes prolonged into a point; pistillode absent. Pollen ellipsoidal, ± bi-symmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine intectate, usually finely and densely clavate, less frequently spiny, spines attached to smooth upper surface of foot layer, in some species spines more numerous along aperture margin, or gemmate, occasionally with gemmae linked together to form incomplete reticulum, or coalesced into larger irregular units; longest axis ranging from 26–31 µm; post-meiotic tetrads usually tetrahedral, sometimes tetragonal or, rarely, rhomboidal [8/14]. Pistillate flower ± globular or elongate; sepals 3, coriaceous, rounded, imbricate, connate at the very base; petals 3, coriaceous, valvate, connate into a tube in the basal ca. 1/3–1/2; staminodes 0–6; ovary rounded or somewhat 3-angled, trilocular with 1–2 locules fertile, septal glands present basally, stigma trilobed, apical, ovule hemianatropous, inserted adaxially at the base. Fruit globose, 1–2-seeded, with apical stigmatic remains; epicarp smooth, becoming dull, bright or dark coloured at maturity, mesocarp fleshy, filled with abundant, irritant, needle-like crystals, endocarp not differentiated. Seeds basally attached, irregularly spherical or hemispherical, somewhat grooved or smooth, endosperm homogeneous or ruminate; embryo lateral. Germination remote-tubular; eophyll bifid with rhombic, divergent, praemorse segments. Cytology: 2n = 34. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A

Anatomy

  • Leaf, petiole, stem, root (Tomlinson 1961), root (Seubert 1998a, 1998b), stamen development following a pattern somewhat similar to that of Lodoicea (Borasseae) and Ptychosperma (Areceae) (Uhl and Moore 1980). (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

  • Seeds probably corresponding to Caryota from the Lower Eocene (London Clay) are described as Caryotispermum by Reid and Chandler (1933). A small (ca. 18 µm, long axis), finely baculate, pollen grain from the Isle of Wight Oligocene is described by Pallot (1961) as being “indistinguishable from pollen of Caryota rumphiana”, a possibly correct identity. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A

Relationships

  • Caryota is resolved as a monophyletic group with moderate support (Hahn and Sytsma 1999, Asmussen et al. 2006) or high support (Bayton 2005). The genus is highly supported as sister to a strongly supported clade of Wallichia and Arenga (Bayton 2005, Asmussen et al. 2006). For interspecific relationships, see Hahn and Sytsma (1999). (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

  • There is no complete recent taxonomic account of this important genus (but see Hahn 1993). (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A

Bibliography

A. J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008
B. World Checklist of Arecaceae