Saribus rotundifolius (Lam.) Blume, Rumphia 2: 49 (1838)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Borneo present (C.D.Bacon & W.J. Baker, Saribus Resurrected, Palms 55: 109-116 (2011))B
Maluku present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
New Guinea present (C.D.Bacon & W.J. Baker, Saribus Resurrected, Palms 55: 109-116 (2011))B
Philippines present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
Sulawesi present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. In Indonesia on Java (though possibly escaped from cultivation only), Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and Raja Ampat Islands; in Malaysia, in northern Sabah and nearby islands; and throughout the Philippines.a ta (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Locally abundant in swampforest, seasonally dry swampforest, mangrove margins, rainforest, moist evergreen forest, along rivers and secondary forest at 0-300 m alt. Flowers all year; fruits all year. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Livistona rotundifolia is treated here as a variable species. Previous taxonomy, which included a number of taxa that are herein synonymised, is otherwise difficult to support. The morphological diversity within L. rotundifolia encompasses both leaf and fruit characteristics; the former with segment apices erect to semi-pendulous, and the latter with size, of 11-25 mm diam., and colour, at first yellow, then ripening though to red or to dark violet or bluish-black. These variable characters appear to occur more or less randomly throughout the entire population. Livistona rotundifolia was the first species in the genus to be taxonomically recognised, and named by Rumphius (1741) in the pre- Linnean publication Herbarium Amboinense, as the mononomial Saribus. Linnaeus (1753) included Rumphius' Saribus as part of his broadly circumscribed Corypha umbraculifera. Subsequently, Lamarck (1786) extracted Saribus from that taxon and used it as the basis for his Corypha rotundifolia, which is the first use of the specific epithet, and named for the round leaves: "Coryphe à feuilles rondes". Merrill (1917, p. 111) noted that "Saribus Rumph. is the whole basis of Corypha rotundifolia Lam., which in turn typifies Livistona rotundifolia Mart.2, and therefore proposed the illustration in Herbarium Amboinense, tab. 8 (Rumphius, 1741), to be the lectotype. Moore (1963a) proposed S. rotundifolius as the lectotype for the genus Saribus. The entity of Saribus Rumph. was implicated in other taxa, with Loureiro (1790) partly basing his Corypha saribus on it. To clarify the identity of the species, Blume (1838) established the genus Saribus, utilising the name of Rumphius' mononomial as his genus name, to include C. rotundifolia and other taxa, and thus made the combination Saribus rotundifolius. Soon after, Martius (1838) provided the first synopsis of Livistona, subsuming Blume's Saribus and some Corypha species by various authors, resulting in the currently accepted combination Livistona rotundifolia. Martius' account clearly established the relationship of L. rotundifolia in regards to other taxa, including Linnaeus' C. umbraculifera, Blume's Saribus, and the versions of C. rotundifolia provided in the works of Willdenow (1799), Sprengel (1825) and Schultes and Schultes (1829). In the latter two references, Loureiro's C. saribus was placed as a synonym of C. rotundifolia. Martius, however, excluded C. saribus from his L. rotundifolia, but included it as a synonym of L. cochinchinensis, thus aligning C. saribus and L. cochinchinensis and establishing the disassociation of C. saribus from L. rotundifolia. See Notes under L. saribus for further discussion about this. Livistona altissima was described by Zollinger (1857) for palms cultivated at Bogor Botanic Gardens (Miquel, 1868) with a "trunco altissimo gracili" but otherwise resembled L. rotundifolia but lacked petiolar spines, "frondibus habitu et conglomeratione L. rotundifolia Mart. petiolis subrecurvis inermibus" The undated collection Zollinger 2684 (BM) from Java, is here chosen as the lectotype. Livistona altissima was first synonymised under L. rotundifolia by Beccari (1931). Livistona robinsoniana was described by Beccari (1911) based on Robinson 9265 from Polillo Is (Robinson, 1911), and named for the collector, Canadian botanist, C. B. Robinson (1871-1913). Beccari related L. robinsoniana to L. rotundifolia, but distinguished it on fruit colour, being orange-reddish rather than bluish-black, and in the depth to which the testa intruded into the endosperm, it being much deeper than in L. rotundifolia. However, fruit colour in L. rotundifolia as interpreted here, is variable, with fruit maturing when orange, red, crimson or nearly black. Beccari (1919a, 1919b) ultimately recognised three subspecies of L. rotundifolia in the Philippines, L. rotundifolia var. microcarpa, L. rotundifolia var. mindorensis, and L. rotundifolia var. luzonensis, all of which cannot be separated from L. rotundifolia sensu lato. The characters that Beccari used to delimit the Philippine subspecies were narrow and can be accounted for in the overall variation that would be expected to occur in a widespread species. Beccari (1931, p. 76) wrote of L. rotundifolia that it was " a palm of wide geographical distribution and subject, for that reason, to vary more or less, but easily grouped around one well characterised type". Regarding fruit colour in L. rotundifolia: it appears that individuals have uniformity in mature fruit colour, and that variation occurs in individuals within and between populations. Some of the original designations of fruit colour for L. rotundifolia included Lamarck (1786), ?orange, then red?; Blume (1838), "yellowish to atro-coerulescentes"; and Beccari (1907) for L. microcarpa "shining vermilion red, ultimately wine red or nearly black". Livistona rotundifolia is one of a distinct group of closely related species that has its distribution in Malesia, including the Philippines. The group is characterised by a trifurcate, or very infrequently bifurcate inflorescence, and fruit maturing through an orange-red phase to be fully mature at orange, red, crimson, dark red or black. The group consists of L. rotundifolia (Indonesia, Philippines), L. merrillii (Philippines), L. brevifolia, L. chocolatina, L. papuana, L. surru, L. tothur (New Guinea), and L. woodfordii (New Guinea and Solomon Islands). Livistona rotundifolia is a variable canopy palm to 45 m tall; leaves are large and regularly segmented; segment apices are rigid or pendulous, and with a bifurcate cleft 4-25% of the segment length; the inflorescence is basally trifurcate or infrequently bifurcate, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, and with up to 10 partial inflorescences; bracts are tightly tubular; flowers are yellowish; fruit are globose, to 25 mm diam., and orange-red to red, dark violet 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

  • Footstool Palm, Balla (Mindanao), Luzon Livistona, Anahao (Tagalog), Bulus (Albay Province), Mindoro Livistona, Panobao (Tagalog), Pilig (Tagalog); Sergand (Sumatra), Woka (North Sulawesi). (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Hermaphroditic palm. Trunk to 45 m tall, 15-25 cm dbh, leaf scars obscure to prominent, light green to white, internodes broad, green to grey, smooth or infrequently with longitudinal fissures, petiole stubs not persistent. Leaves 20-50 in a globose crown; petiole slightly arching, 90- 210 cm long, 15 cm wide proximally, ca 2 cm wide distally, adaxially flat or moderately ridged, margins with retrorsely recurved black spines 1-20 mm long throughout or proximally only, with largest proximally, distally becoming smaller and more widely spaced, or very infrequently with spines lacking in mature plants; leaf-base fibres moderately prominent, coarse, in a criss-cross pattern, brown, persistent, appendage triangular; hastula very prominent, 2 cm high; lamina costapalmate, circular to subcircular, regularly segmented, 75-150 cm long, adaxially semi-glossy dark green, abaxially lighter subglaucescent green; lamina divided for 38-62% of its length, with 60-90 segments, depth of apical cleft 4-25% of the segment length, apical lobes usually erect, but pendulous in segments with deeper clefts; mid-leaf segments ca 5 cm wide where the segments diverge; parallel veins 6-9 each side of midrib; transverse veins equal thickness or thinner than parallel veins. Inflorescences trifurcate with ± similar collateral axes, branched to 4 orders, 90-150 cm long, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, arching; partial inflorescences ca 10, longest to ca 30 cm; prophyll to 30 cm long, glabrous, straw coloured; peduncular bracts lacking or 1, and then tightly tubular; rachis bracts tightly tubular, reddish brown, glabrous, apically truncate, remaining intact with age; rachillae 3-20 cm long, 1-1.5 mm thick, straight, yellowish, glabrous. Flowers solitary or in clusters of 2-4, to 2-3 mm long, yellowish, sessile on small pulvini; sepals broadly ovate, very obtuse, dorsally carinate; petals less obtuse, yellowish; ovary glabrous; style subulate, acute, very short. Fruit globose to subglobose, 11-25 mm diam., at first yellow, ripening though to orange-red to red or to dark violet or bluish-black; stigmatic remains inconspicuous; epicarp thin, smooth or with scattered lenticellular pores; suture line for full length of fruit; mesocarp ca 1.5 mm thick, slightly fibrous to gritty; endocarp very thin; pedicel 2-3 mm long. Seed globose, 10-13 mm diam., endosperm intruded for two-thirds to almost full width of endosperm; hilum broad, orbicular; embryo lateral, 2-2.4 mm long. Eophyll 5 ribbed. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A

Materials Examined

  • Specimens examined: INDONESIA: anon. s.n. (BO); Ternate and Sulawesi (Woka), Reinwardt 60 (L); North Maluku. Halmahera Is., Jailol District, Kampung Pasir Putih, Taylor 605 (US); Maluku. Halmahera, Ekor, Bukit Dowora Ina, de Vogel 3236 (BO, K, L); Maluku. Halmahera, Akelamo Oba, 00º34?N, 127º36?E, ca 50 m alt., de Vogel 4436 (K, LAE); North Sulawesi, Amoerang, undated, collector unknown (BO); North Sulawesi, Manado, Koorders 18424 (BO); North Sulawesi, Koorders 18425 (BO); Sulawesi, near Manado, Forman 409 (A, BO, LAE, PNH); Sulawesi. Bolaang Mongondow, Dumoga Bone NP, Toraut Dam, de Vogel 6894 with Vermeulen (K); Sulawesi. Belaang Mongondow, Pindool, Lelak, Dransfield & Mogea JD 3831 (BO, K); Ceram, undated, de Vriese & Teysmann s.n. (L); Papua. Sorong. Raja Ampat Islands, Waigeo Is., Waifoi Village, Maturbongs 501 (K). PHILIPPINES: Calayan Is. Cagayan Prov., 150 m alt., Quisumbing & del Rosario 61-369 (PNH); Luzon. Cagayan Prov., Linao, Tuguegarno, Rocero 220 (PNH); Luzon. Cagayan Prov., Claveria, Mt Taggat, Reynoso 11903 (K); Luzon. La Union Prov., Contilla, Loher 7070 (K); Luzon. Tarlac Prov., Vidal 1952 (K); Luzon. Zambales Prov., Mt Pinatubo, Villar, 350 m alt., Fox 26 (PNH); Luzon. Quezon (Tayabas) Prov., Lucban, Mt Banahao, Elmer 9293 (BM, BO, FI, K, L, NY, US); Polillo Is. Quezon Prov., Fox 8996 (A); Polillo Is. Quezon Prov., Robinson 9265 (FI, K, US); Polillo Is. Quezon Prov., Barangsay Sibulan, 4 km N of Polillo town, Dowe 700 with Romero (K, PNH); Polillo Is. Quezon Prov., Karlagan, Fox 6b (PNH); Polillo Is. Quezon Prov., Lukutaw, Fox 223 (PNH); Luzon. Manila, Paco, Bartlett 13203 (K); Luzon. Laguna Prov., Mt Makiling, Gates 5700 (CAHP); Luzon. Laguna Prov., Mt Makiling, 450 m alt., Gates Q93 (CAHP); Luzon, Laguna Prov., Los Baños (Mt Makiling), Elmer 18054 (BM, K, L); Luzon. Laguna Prov., Mt Makiling, Pancho 3488 (CAHP); Luzon. Laguna Prov., Mt Makiling, 100 m alt., Fernando 7115 (LBC); Luzon. Laguna Prov., Mt Makiling, 100 m alt., Fernando 7451 (LBC); Luzon, Laguna Prov., Mt Makiling, Mabesa 26228 (K, US); Luzon. Batangas Prov., San Jaun, Laiya, Hernaez 3625 (CAHP); Luzon. Camarines Prov., Curran 10631 (BM, L, US); Luzon. Camarines Sur Prov., Albay, Tabacco, Hernaez 3870 (CAHP); Marinduque Is. Marinduque Prov., Vidal 1943 (K); Mindoro. Mt Yagaw, 400 m alt., Conklin 535 (PNH); Mindoro. Bongabong R., Merritt 4108 (FI); Mindanao. District of Davao, Todayo (Mt Apo), Elmer 11967 (A, BM, BO, K, L, NY, UC); Samar. Llorente, Mt Apoy, 200- 300 m alt., Guiterrez 367 (PNH); Palawan. Quezon, Panitian, ca 50 m alt., Dransfield JD6208 (K); Palawan. Mt Tagburos, vicinity of Puerto Princesa, Ebalao 648 (K); Palawan, Carañugan R., Curran 3784 (BM, FI, NY, P); No locality: 1904, carpological collections 1712, Burck s.n. (L). Specimens from cultivated material: India: Madras, 26 May 1900, A.G. Bourne s.n. with Lady Bourne (K); Indonesia: Bogor Botanic Gardens, May 1878, Beccari s.n. (FI); Java. Puger, Koorders 6128 (BO); Java, Koeli, Koorders 6129 (BO); North Sumatra, Lörzing 12131 (BO); Bogor Botanic Gardens, Zollinger 2684 (BM). Malaysia : Penang Hill, Viaduct Rd, Methodist Centre, Whitmore FRI0291 (L); Singapore: Singapore Botanic Gardens, Lawn B near main gate, Furtado 29216 (K); Singapore Botanic Gardens, near main gate, B area, introduced as sp. from Negros, Furtado 29393 (A, K, SING); Singapore Botanic Gardens, Furtado 29394 (A); Singapore Botanic Gardens, near main gate, B area, Furtado 40542 (SING); Papua New Guinea: Lae Botanic Gardens, Croft 71100 (LAE); Philippines: Luzon, Manila Botanic Gardens, Loher 1391 (K); Luzon, Pasay City, Mona Lisa Steiner's garden, Steiner 685 (PNH); Luzon, Los Baños, College of Agriculture Campus, University of Philippines, Pancho 2405 (CAHP); Sri Lanka: Royal Botanic Gardens Peradeniya, S-7, Rutherford 51 with Bandara (K); Trinidad and Tobago: Trinidad, 1884, anon. s.n. (K); United Kingdom: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Palm House, anon. 000-73.12587 (K); Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, anon. 000-73.1258 (K). (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


    A. Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae)
    B. C.D.Bacon & W.J. Baker, Saribus Resurrected, Palms 55: 109-116 (2011)
    C. World Checklist of Arecaceae