Livistona muelleri F.M.Bailey, Queensl. Fl. 5: 1683 (1902)

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Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. In north Queensland from the Torres Strait islands to near Innisfail. In Papua New Guinea in the Western Province; and in Indonesia, in Papua, Merauke Division. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Grows in grassy open forest, woodland, moist sclerophyll forest, and less commonly on the margins of vine thickets, 0-300 m alt., and most common in areas that have a strongly seasonal rainfall pattern. Flowers Sep-Apr; fruits Nov-May. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Livistona muelleri was first recognised as distinct and described as 'L. humilis R.Br. 'var' by Bailey (1898), and then as L. muelleri in 1902 based on the collection Cowley s.n. from Cairns, Queensland. It was named for Ferdinand von Mueller (1825-1896), Victorian Government botanist, 1853-1896. Previously, Solander (1768-1771) had included it as another manuscript name in his hand-written Plantae novae hollandiae, based on plants he saw near the Endeavour R., Queensland, but this name was never published. Previous to Bailey's account, Wendland, in a contribution to Kerchove (1878), used the name Livistona mülleri in a list of Australian palms, but this was merely a name in a list without a description or reference to specimens and therefore a nomem nudum. Bailey (1898) made Bailey's choice of the name, as in reference to L. benthamii noted that he named both of these species to honour the authors of Flora Australiensis. Beccari (1921) described two varieties of L. humilis that are attributable to L. muelleri: L. humilis var. sclerophylla, based on Bauer 3 from the Bloomfield R., Queensland, and L. humilis var. novoguineensis, based on Jaheri s.n., from Merauke, Papua, Indonesia. Burret (1935, 1939) described L. brassii and L. crustacea from Western Prov., Papua New Guinea, based on the collections Brass 5950 and Brass 7668 respectively. Both taxa were synonymised under L. muelleri by Rodd (1998). Although the relationships of L. muelleri are obscure, it most closely resembles L. eastonii from the Kimberleys, Western Australia. However, this may be an example of ecological convergence, and its true relationships may possibly be with moist forest species such as L. benthamii, with which it shares at least a close association in distribution. Livistona muelleri also bears morphological resemblance to L. fulva of central Queensland, with similarity in both leaf and inflorescence. Livistona muelleri is a moderate sub-canopy palm to 12 m tall; leaves are moderate and regularly segmented; segment apices are rigid, and with a bifurcate cleft to 14% of the segment length; the inflorescence is unbranched, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, and with up to 10 partial inflorescences; bracts are loosely sheathing; flowers have maroon sepals, yellow petals and mauve carpels, on maroon to red rachillae; fruit are ellipsoid, pyriform, to obovoid, to 12 mm long to 10 mm wide, and powdery blue, reddish black to bluish black at maturity. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Least concern. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A

Common Name

  • Cairns Fan Palm. Habitat and ecology: Grows in grassy open forest, woodland, moist sclerophyll forest, and less commonly on the margins of vine thickets, 0-300 m alt., and most common in areas that have a strongly seasonal rainfall pattern. Flowers Sep-Apr; fruits Nov-May. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Functionally dioecious palm. Trunk to 12 m tall, 15-25 cm dbh, leaf scars narrow, raised, roughened and with remnant tissue, internodes narrow, grey, petiole stubs persistent, or deciduous with extreme age or fire. Leaves 25- 35 in a globose crown, held erect; petiole 70-100 cm long, 14-20 mm wide, adaxially concave, margins with single curved black spines 2-12 mm long throughout, larger and closer spaced in the proximal portion; both adaxial and abaxial surfaces with rows of corky scales, persistent, at first redbrown aging to grey; leaf-base fibres not prominent, fine, disintegrating; lamina costapalmate, regularly segmented, circular, 60-90 cm long, rigid, flat, chartaceous, adaxially olive green to grey green, abaxially dull bluish green, glabrous except for a few scales on ribs; lamina divided for 50-65% of its length, with 48-60 segments, depth of apical cleft 5-14% of the segment length; apical lobes acute, rigid; parallel veins ca 8 each side of midrib; transverse veins thinner than parallel veins. Inflorescences unbranched at the base, not sexually dimorphic, 80-160 cm long, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, branched to 4 orders; partial inflorescences 5-10; peduncular bract(s) lacking; rachis bracts loosely tubular, with silver scales, splitting and disintegrating with age, but margins not lacerate; rachillae 2-13 cm long, papillose, maroon to red. Flowers solitary or in clusters of 2-3, 1.3-1.6 mm long; sepals broadly triangular, 0.8-1 mm long, maroon, fleshy, cuspidate; petals ovate, 1.3-1.6 mm long, bright yellow, subacute; stamens ca 1.4 mm long, yellow; carpels pink to maroon. Fruit ellipsoid, 10-12 mm long, 8.5-10 mm diam., powdery blue, reddish black or bluish black; epicarp smooth, pruinose; suture line extends for full length of the fruit, marked with lip-like structures; mesocarp thin, dry; endocarp very thin, brittle; pedicel 0.5-1 mm long. Seed globose, 8-9 mm wide. Eophyll 3-ribbed. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A

Materials Examined

  • Specimens examined: AUSTRALIA: Queensland. Torres Strait, Saibai Is., Stocker 1376 (QRS); Torres Strait, Badu Is, Cameron 2737 (QRS); Torres Strait, Horn Is, Cameron 2031 (QRS); Torres Strait, Horn Is, Cameron 2246 (QRS); Torres Strait, Horn Is, 11 July 1943, Tyack Bake s.n. (BRI); Torres Strait, Prince of Wales Is, Cameron 20244 (QRS); Torres Strait, Prince of Wales Is, Cameron 20335 (QRS); Lockerbie Scrub, Dowe 407 (JCT); Jardine R., N bank, near crossing of Peninsula Dev. Rd, Hind 576 (NSW); 10 km S of Jardine R., bypass road, Dowe 378 (JCT); ca 24 km W of Peninsula Dev. Rd, on track to west coast between Pt Musgrave and Skardon R., Clarkson 9157 (BRI, QRS); 11.5 km N of Weipa Mission, Specht 120 (BRI); 31 km E of Weipa-Batavia Rd, Maconochie 2699 (BRI); 4 km NNW of Beagle North Camp, ca 41 km NNE of Aurukun, Clarkson 4359 (K); between Nesbit and Chester Rivers, Hyland 6834 (QRS); Silver Plains Stn, 8 Apr 1958, Wassell s.n. (BRI); Silver Plains-Goanna Ck Rd, ebb 3186 (BRI); 2 miles S of Scrubby Ck, Irvine 72 (BRI, QRS); Upper Massey Ck, 15 miles S of ENE of Coen, Smith 11916 (BRI); Flinders Is, lsol 754 (BRI); Flinders Is, Clarkson 2262 (BRI); Edward R. Aboriginal Reserve, 6.8 km S of Musgrave-Edward R road, Clarkson 3538 (BRI); E of dward R. Community, Clarke WCC1082 (BRI); Musgrave Stn, Hind 749 (NSW); Starke Homestead, along track 7.5 km N, 14º59'S, 145º08'E, ca 40 m alt., Kanis 1947 (BRI, L); Durkam Stn, 10 km NE of Cooktown, cDonald 1541 (BRI); 11 km WNW of Cooktown, N side of Endeavour R., ear ones Lagoon, Rodd 3159 & 3160 with Jacobs (BH, BRI, K, NSW); Near Cooktown, Webb 6159 (BRI); Helensvale-Bloomfield Rd, ca 3 km N of Ayton, Rodd 3170 & 3171 (BH, BRI, K, NSW); Bloomfield R., Bauer 3 (FI); Daintree R., Hind 216 (QRS); Near Port Douglas, Blake 9722A (BRI); Craiglea, Cook Hwy near Port Douglas, 38.5 miles N of Cairns, Moore 9244 (BRI); Craiglea, Cook Hwy near Port Douglas turnoff, Hind 226 (NSW); NW of Walsh R., 7.2 km NW of Nolans Ck, 16º45'S, 144º06'E, 200 m alt., Dowe 608 (BRI); Trinity Beach, 16º47'S, 145º4'E, Smith & Pedley 10001 (BRI, L); Trinity Beach, N of Cairns, Maconochie 1717 (DNA); Captain Cook Hwy, W side of road, 2.5 km N of the Cook Hwy and Kennedy Hwy junction, Irvine 1776, 1777, 1778 & 1779 (QRS); airns, Oct. 1900, Cowley s.n. (BRI holotype, FI); Cairns, Flecker 3251 (QRS); Cairns, Scott St, 8 May 1941, Wright s.n. (QRS); Cairns, Port Rd, 2 km E of Mulgrave Rd, Dowe 271 (JCT); Few kms S of Cairns opposite Golf Links on the Bruce Hwy, Moriarty 1168 (BRI); PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Western Prov. Middle Fly R., Lake Daviumbo, Brass 7668 (A, BO, BM, BRI, L); Western Prov. Daua (Daru) Is, 09º05'S, 143º10'E, 70 m alt., Gillison 45 (LAE); Western Prov., Dagwa, Oriomo R., Brass 5950 (A, BM, BO, BRI, NY). INDONESIA: Papua. Merauke Division, road from Mopa Airstrip to Manggatrikke, ca 10 m alt., van Royen 4545 (A, BO, K, L, LAE); Merauke Division, Jaheri 197 (BO); Merauke Division, Jaheri s.n. (BO); Merauke Division, Merauke R., Apr 1901, Jaheri s.n. (BO, FI). (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


    A. Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae)