Saribus merrillii (Becc.) C.D. Bacon & W.J. Baker, Palms 55: 113 (2011)

Primary tabs


Philippines. Luzon, in Cagayan, Camarines, Tayabas and Zambales Provinces, and on Polillo Is. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Forming colonies in Shorea forest and on rocky limestone hills near the seashore at 60-200 m alt. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Livistona merrillii was first described by Beccari (1904) based on a specimen from Guinayangan, Luzon, Merrill 2071, with unarmed petioles, and cherry-like fruit, although only seen in the immature state, and named for the American botanist, E.D. Merrill (1876-1956), who worked in the Philippines. Blanco (1837) used the name Corypha minor in his treatment of Philippine palms, However, the name Corypha minor was first used by Jacquin (1776) and is the basionym of Sabal minor (Jacq.) Pers. Blanco's use of the same name for the Filipino palm constituted a misapplication of a name already taken, and Beccari's creation of a new name, L. merrillii, was the correct procedure, according to Article 58.1 (Tokyo Code). Confusingly, Blanco's description of C. minor clearly differentiated it from S. minor describing his C. minor as "eleva tanto como los cocos y las Arecas" (as tall as the coconut and Arecas), which contrasts with Sabal minor, i.e. Jacquin's C. minor, which is trunkless. Correctly, it should be C. minor Blanco non Jacq. when used in synonymy. Beccari (1905), in a subsequent description of L. merrillii, suggested that C. minor was related to L. whitfordii, a species that he newly described following his treatment of L. merrillii, but was distinguished from it by the shallower segment apical clefts. In subsequent descriptions of L. whitfordii, a species named for American botanical collector, H. N. Whitford (1872- 1941), Beccari (1909) concluded that the petiole margins were basally armed with spines in contrast to the protologue, which described them as unarmed. Beccari (1919b) placed L. whitfordii as a synonym of L. merrillii. Merrill (1918), in reviewing the species established by Blanco, proposed a new name, L. blancoi, for L. merrillii. It is not clear if Merrill considered L. blancoi to be a new species or whether it was simply a matter of providing what he considered to be a more appropriate epithet. The taxon was named for the Spanish Augustinian friar, F.M. Blanco (1780-1845), who provided various accounts of the Philippine flora. However, Merrill distinguished L. blancoi from L. merrillii by ?shorter leaf-segments and in its much more slender petioles? thus implying that he considered that they were distinct species. In addition, Merrill maintained that L. merrillii, L. whitfordii and his L. blancoi, had unarmed petioles. The type for L. blancoi is Merrill 919. Subsequently, Beccari (1919b, 1931) reiterated the synonymy of C. minor under L. merrillii, but did not make any reference to Merrill's L. blancoi. Merrill (1925), however, reappraised his former placement of C. minor and L. blancoi and included them as synonyms of L. rotundifolia var. luzonensis, but still retained L. merrillii as a separate taxon. Livistona merrillii is a moderate canopy palm to 20 m tall; leaves are moderate to large and regularly segmented; segment apices are rigid to pendulous, and with a bifurcate cleft 30-40% of the segment length; the crown, nd with up to 10 partial inflorescences; bracts are loosely tubular; flowers are yellow; fruit are globose to depressed-globose, to 23 mm diam., and dark red at maturity. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


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

Common Name

  • Ballang (Cagayan Prov., Luzon), Telsis (Zambales Province). (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Leaves used for thatching and for raincoats, stems for bows and flooring. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Hermaphroditic palm. Trunk to 20 m tall, 15-30 cm dbh, leaf scars prominent, light green to grey in the upper portions aging to grey throughout, internodes broad, dark green to purple-green in the upper portion, aging to grey, petiole stubs not persistent. Leaves 40-50 in a ± globose crown; petiole 90-200 cm long, slightly arching, proximally ca 15 cm wide, distally ca 2.5 cm wide, adaxially flat, with deciduous tomentum, margins most frequently unarmed in leaves from mature plants or if present the spines confined to the very proximal part with single curved black spines 6-20 mm long, then reduced to scattered rudimentary tubercules toward the apex; leaf-base fibres prominent, coarse, in a woven pattern, persistent after leaf fall and as intermittent encircling masses in the upper portions of the stem; appendage long; lamina costapalmate, regularly segmented, circular, 100-150 cm long, adaxially green, abaxially slightly lighter green; lamina divided for ca 34% of its length, with ca 70 segments, depth of apical cleft 30-40% of the segment length, apical lobes acuminate, rigid when depth of apical cleft is shallow, pendulous when depth of apical cleft is deep; hastula prominent, irregularly curved, lobed; parallel veins 5-6 each side of midrib; transverse veins thinner than parallel veins. Inflorescences trifurcate with ± similar collateral axes, branched to 3 orders, 100-150 cm long, not extending beyond the limit of the crown; each axis with 5-10 partial inflorescences, longest to 40 cm; prophyll to 45 cm long, 7 cm wide, glabrous, thinly coriaceous, apices acuminate, caudate; peduncle ca 2.5 cm wide near the base; peduncular bract 1, elongatetubular, to 50 cm long, closely longitudinally striate, bicarinate, glabrous, apices acuminate caudate; rachis bracts tubular, brown, broadening slightly toward the apex, apices acute, glabrous; rachillae 4-10 cm long, yellowish, straight, glabrous. Flowers solitary, sessile, 3-4.5 mm long, ovate-acute in bud, on large raised pulvini; sepals fused basally, fleshy, lobes broadly subtriangular, thick, yellow; petals elongate-triangular, thick, acute, slightly spreading at anthesis, bright yellow; stamens with basally fused filaments, thick and short, contracted into short apices, connective very short, narrow. Fruit globose to depressed-globose, tapered to the base, 16-23 mm diam., dark red, shiny; epicarp smooth; mesocarp 2-3 mm thick, grainy; endocarp thin, crustaceous; pedicel 2-5 mm long. Seed globose, 11-15 mm diam.; intruded by the testa to about halfway to almost fully across the seed; embryo lateral. Eophyll not seen. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A

Materials Examined

  • PHILIPPINES: Luzon. Zambales Prov., Curran 5834 (US); Polillo Is. Quezon Prov., Hernaez 3622 (CAHP); Polillo Is. Quezon Prov., Panukulan, Sitio Kitian, Fernando 8019 (LBC); Luzon. Laguna Prov., Covinti, Loher 7056 (K); Luzon. Quezon (Payabas) Prov., Curran 10189 (US); Luzon. Quezon Prov., Atimonan, Whitford 731 (FI, PNH); Luzon. Quezon (Tayabas) Prov., Unisan, Merrill 919 (A, BM, BO, K, L, NY, PNH); Luzon. Camarines Prov., Paracale, Ramos & Edano 33759 (K, US); Luzon. Camarines Prov., Curran 10409 (A, UC, US); No location given, Llanos 221 (MA).
    Specimens from cultivated material: Philippines: Luzon, Laguna Prov., Los Baños Forestry Campus, Fernando 7337 (LBC). (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


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