Livistona chinensis (Jacq.) R.Br. ex Mart., Hist. Nat. Palm. 3: 240 (1838)

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Japan, China and Taiwan. In Japan, on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa, riomote and Aharen, and on Kyushu, Aoshima (Yoshida et al., 2000) and Shikoku (Horikawa, 1972; Suzuki, 1982). In Taiwan on Kisanto Is., and in China on Hainan Is. and formerly recorded in Guangdong Province but now apparently extinct there in the wild (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Coastal forests on various soils, often in sand, sometimes in dense mono-specific colonies, otherwise in small isolated colonies, 1-100 m alt. Flowers Feb-Apr; fruits Apr-Sept. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Livistona chinensis was first described as Latania chinensis (Jacquin, 1801), from plants cultivated and subsequently naturalised in Mauritius and brought to Schoenbrunn Gardens, Vienna in 1788. It is lectotypified by the illustration in Jacquin (1801), Tab. 11, Fig. 1. The species name was taken from that used for the palm in Mauritius, "Latanier de la Chine". Bretschneider (1898) provided some evidence to suggest that the naturalist and traveller Pierre Poivre was responsible for introducing the palm, during the mid 1700s, to Mauritius where it soon became naturalised. Poivre had made extensive collections of plants from southeast China and Indochina during the period 1740-1767. Martius (1838) provided the transfer to Livistona, based on Brown (1810) who suggested it should correctly have been in Livistona, but without formal transfer. Other names have been applied to the species, including Latania mauritiana, L. borbonica and Chamaerops biroo (Martius, 1838); Saribus chinensis (Blume, 1838), the orthographic variation L. sinensis by Griffith (1845); and L. japonica (Nakai, 1928). Of these names, a lectotype is here chosen for C. biroo (Siebold, 1830), it being Siebold s.n., a specimen that was located in the Siebold collections at Leiden. Types for Latania mauritiana and Livistona japonica have not been designated, while Latania borbonica is a misapplied name. Livistona olivaeformis and L. subglobosa were established by Hasskarl (1842) from cultivated plants in Bogor Botanic Gardens as species of Saribus, but placed as Livistona species by Martius (1849). The species names were derived from the fruit shapes, being olive-like and subglobose respectively. Livistona olivaeformis was synonymised under L. chinensis by Beccari (1921), and the specimens collected by Beccari in May 1878 from plants in Bogor Botanic Gardens that Hasskarl based the name upon are here chosen as the lectotype. Those specimens are sheets 11331, 11331-B. and 11331-C in FI. However, L. subglobosa was retained by Beccari as a subglobosa was described as differing from his L. chinensis forma typical only by fruit shape (Beccari, 1921), it being subglobose to ovoid rather than olive-like. Although the original description of L. subglobosa was from cultivated plants in Bogor Botanic Garden, Beccari (1931) applied the name to specimens collected in the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan. Beccari visited Bogor Botanic Gardens in May 1878 and collected specimens from the plants upon which Hasskarl established the name. These specimens, sheets 11333 and 11333-B in FI are here chosen as the lectotype. The taxon was elevated to specific status by Nakai (1935) and Kanehira (1936), but it otherwise was referred to most commonly as a subspecies (Moore & Fosberg, 1956; Li, 1963; Ohwi, 1965; Walker, 1976; Li, 1978; Suzuki, 1982; Yoshida et al., 2000). Collections from the distributional range of L. chinensis var. subglobosa (cf. Horikawa, 1972) exhibit such variation in fruit shape that no reasonable taxonomic distinctions can be made between L. chinensis forma typica and L. chinensis var. subglobosa. Accordingly, L. chinensis var. subglobosa is placed as a synonym of L. chinensis. A third subspecies, L. chinensis var. boninensis, was also described by Beccari (1921, 1931) and its taxonomic history is discussed in Notes under L. boninensis. Livistona chinensis is a moderate sub-canopy palm to 15 m tall; leaves are large and regularly segmented; segment apices are pendulous, and with a bifurcate cleft to 13% of the segment length; the inflorescence is unbranched, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, and with up to 7 partial inflorescences; bracts are loosely sheathing; flowers are white to yellow; fruit are globose, subglobose, ellipsoid, to pyriform, to 26 mm long to 18 mm wide, and glossy blue green to bright green 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

  • Chinese fan palm, Biro (Japanese). Okinawa, Iriomote and Aharen, and on Kyushu, Aoshima (Yoshida et al., 2000) and Shikoku (Horikawa, 1972; Suzuki, 1982). In Taiwan on Kisanto Is., and in China on Hainan Is. and formerly recorded in Guangdong Province but now apparently extinct there in the wild. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Hermaphroditic palm. Trunk to 15 m tall, 20-30 cm dbh, leaf scars obscure, roughened and with remnant tissue, light coloured, internodes narrow, irregular, brown to grey with age, petiole stubs not persistent, longitudinal fissures prominent. Leaves 40-60 in a globose to ovoid crown; petiole slightly arching, to 180 cm long, ca 15 cm wide in the middle, adaxially flat or slightly ridged, surface glabrous; margins with single curved spines in the proximal one-half or less or sometimes absent, distal margins otherwise sharp and slightly winged; spines 2-20 mm long, subulate, green to black; leaf-base fibre not prominent, coarse, and disintegrating; lamina costapalmate, regularly segmented, subcircular to reniform, 120-200 cm long, 120-180 cm wide, light yellowish green on both surfaces, dull to glossy, nonwaxy; lamina divided for 45-55% of its length, with 50-90 segments, depth of apical cleft ca 13% of the segment length, apical lobes pendulous; lower segments 2-5 mm wide, filamentous, parallel veins 8-9 each side of midrib; transverse veins thinner than parallel veins; hastula ca 3 cm high. Inflorescence unbranched at the base, 100-120 cm long, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, slightly curving, branched to 3 orders; 6-7 partial inflorescences; rachillae 10-18 cm long, to 9 mm diameter, glabrous; peduncular bract(s) lacking; rachis bracts tomentose or scaly, loosely tubular, disintegrating into open chartaceous fibres with age, brown, apex acute. Flowers in clusters of 4-7, subglobose in bud, 2-2.5 mm long, white to yellowish; sepals imbricate, ca 1.5 mm long, rounded, margins hyaline, inner surface striate; petals triangular, apically pointed, fleshy, ca 2.2 mm long, ca 2 mm wide; filaments united at the base, free in the upper part, connective thickish, ca 0.5 mm long; anthers ca 0.5 mm long; style sharply tapered, ca the same height as the anthers. Fruit globose, subglobose, ellipsoid or pyriform,15-26 mm long, 9-18 mm wide, glossy blue-green to bright green; epicarp ceramic-like; suture line extends for full length of fruit, marked with lip-like structures; mesocarp ca 1.5 mm wide, fleshy, slightly oily, moderately fibrous, endocarp woody, ca 0.5 mm wide; pedicel 2-3 mm long. Seed globose, subglobose to ellipsoid, variously reniform in longitudinal section, ca 14 mm long, ca 10 mm wide; endosperm intruded by the testa to ca one-half to two-thirds through to form a cavity filled with brown crystalline tissue; embryo supra-lateral to lateral. Eophyll 7-ribbed. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A

Materials Examined

  • Specimens examined: JAPAN: Yakushima, Ambo, Ohwi & Okamoto 995 (A, B, BM, BR, K, L, NY, UC, US); Ryukyu Islands (Loo-Choo Islands). 1853-56, Wright s.n. (A); Ryukyu Islands. Dharen Is., Wilson 8164 (K); Ryukyu Islands. Okinawa Is., Motobu Peninsula, Mt Awa, Walker 7636 (S); Ryukyu Islands. Yaeyama Islands, Mt. Kubura, Yonakuni, Furuse 4570, 4577 & 4579 (K); No location, Siebold s.n. (L). TAIWAN: Bankinsing Mts, Henry 821 (K, NY). CHINA: Canton. 1880, Hance s.n. (K); Hainan Is. Loktung, Lau 27175 (A); Guangdong Prov., Levine 479 (US); Guangdong Prov., To Kang Ping 10956 (BO, NY); No location, Burch 1591 (L).
    Specimens from cultivated material: Antigua: Collector name illegible 7067 (K, US); Victoria Peak, Shiu Ying Hu 5452 (K); Cuba. Botanic Garden Havana, Curtiss 656 (K); Guam: Merizo, Fosberg 35668 (BH, US); Guyana : Henritta roadside, Essequibo, Harris 538 (K); India: Ex H. Bot. Sahar, 1887, Beccari s.n. (K); Tiruchirapalli, St Josephs College House, Matthew 30953 (K); Tamilnadu, Villupura District, Auroville Shakti, Matthew 72880 (K); Indonesia: Bogor Botanic Gardens, May 1878, Beccari s.n. (FI, K); Bogor Botanic Gardens, ?nel viale presso la chieta?, May 1878, Beccari s.n. (FI, sheets 1131, 1131-B & 1131-C); Bogor Botanic Gardens, May 1878, Beccari s.n. (FI, sheets 11333 & 11333-B). Japan : Ryukyu Islands, Okinawa, Gesashi, 26º36?N, 128º08.75?E, Morgan 5058 (UC, US); Malaysia : Sabah, Sandakan, Elopura, Melgrito 10029 (K); Nigeria: Calabar, Ndozi 15441 (K); Panama: Panama City, Curundu District, Churchill 6023 with Churchill (K); Philippines: Luzon, Laguna Prov., Mt Makiling Garden, Pancho 3684 (CAHP); Zamboanga City, Zambowooe, Canadian Logging Concession, Hernaez 3663 (CAHP); Trinidad: Holloway s.n. (BRI); Seychelles: Insula Platte, Bojer s.n. (K); Singapore : Location not given, 24 Dec 1894, anon. s.n. (MEL); Singapore Botanic Gardens, Lawn D, 22 Jun 1929, Nur s.n. (K); Singapore Botanic Gardens, Furtado 29396 & 29397 (A, BRI, K); Singapore Botanic Gardens, Lawn B, Furtado 29398 (K); MacRitchie Reservoir, 27 Aug 1970, Tambi s.n. (K, SING); Society Islands: Moore 443 (BRI); Sri Lanka: Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, Rutherford 52 with Bandara (K); Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, Garden Q-237, Rutherford 101 with Bandara (K); Tanzania: Amani, Greenway 1042 (K); Thailand: Pattani, Pattani University Campus, Barfod 40986 with Ueacharakan (AAU); Trang, Khao Chong, ca 15 km E of Trang, Barfod 141431 with Ueacharakan (AAU); Trang, Khao Chong, Peninsula Botanic Garden, Barfod 43885 (AAU, BKF); United Kingdom : Ex Herbarium Benthamianum, Hort. Chil. May 1823, anon. s.n. (K); Ex Herbarium Hookerianum 1867, anon. s.n. (K); Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Feb 1880, anon. s.n. (K); Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, 1880, anon. s.n. (K); Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Propagating House, 1880, anon. 210 (K); Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, 29 Apr 1882, anon. s.n. (K); Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Temperate House, Dransfield 4463 (K); Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, anon. 1982-5601 (K); United States : Florida. Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Balick 3388 (NY); Hawaii. University of Hawaii campus, 80 ft alt., Krajina 6288 (NY); Kauai, Lihue District, Nuhou Grove Farm, Wood 2102 with Schleck (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)