Livistona decora (W.Bull) Dowe, Austrobaileya 6: 979 (2004)

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Australia. Queensland. From Magnetic Is. near Townsville, south to Tewantin and Rainbow Beach. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Most common in coastal and near-coastal lowlands in large dense colonies or in scattered groups, in open forest, littoral rainforest and dry rainforest at low to moderate elevations, and with isolated inland populations at moderate elevations associated with permanent springs or seasonal streams, 0-550 m alt. Flowers Jul?Dec; fruits Dec-Apr. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • The name Corypha decora was first used by Bull (1887) for plants introduced into horticulture from his nursery at Chelsea, and subsequently discussed by Watson (1889) in a paper on the cool cultivation of tropical and subtropical plants. Bull's (1887, p.10) description was: "Corypha decora: An elegant and ornamental species introduced from Queensland. It early develops characterized leaves, which are fan-shaped in outline and divided almost to the petiole into linear lanceolate segments each about half-an-inch in breadth. The petioles are sparsely furnished with small hooked prickles. This species will undoubtedly be found one of the most useful of greenhouse palms". Beccari (1910) was apparently unaware of the use of the name Corypha decora when he named Livistona decipiens from the collection, Robertson-Proschowsky s.n. taken from a cultivated plant at Nice, France, and named for the deception that it had caused as to its true identity: "... il nome di L. decipiens, per gli errori di cui è stata causa...". In cultivation in the Riviera during the mid to late 1800s it had incorrectly been referred to by local horticulturists as "Copernicia cerifera", and it was with the intention of clarifying the species' identity that Beccari provided the description and established the name. Although unaware of its origin, but suggesting that it came from eastern tropical Australia, Beccari (1931) related it to other Australian species, primarily L. australis. Despite it being well known and widely cultivated throughout the world, its origin continued to remain speculative until relatively recent times. For example, Bailey (1976) noted (with reference to the name L. decipiens): ?? described from cult., supposedly Australian?.?. The first unequivocal application of the name to natural populations was by Johnson (1981) who recorded distribution from Miriamvale to Townsville, Queensland. Through the lack of understanding of the true identity of L. inermis, and the incorporation of misapplied specimens into descriptions, L. decora was inadvertently identified as that species. Both Wendland and Drude (1875) and Bentham (1878) cited the specimen Thozet s.n., from Moore's Ck near Rockhampton, central Queensland, now known to be of L. decora in their accounts of L. inermis and L. australis respectively. Many specimens in both the wild and in cultivation with a deeply segmented leaf were subsequently identified as L. inermis sensu H.Wendl. (Hill, 1873, 1875). It is highly probable that L. inermis R.Br. was never in cultivation in Europe as it is an exceedingly difficult plant to propagate and maintain while L. decora is exceptionally easy to germinate, and one of the fastest growing species of Livistona. Beccari (1921) described a variety, L. decipiens var. polyantha, from plants cultivated in Bogor Botanic Gardens based on Beccari s.n., but this is attributable to L. decora. Livistona decora is most closely related to L. australis, but is readily distinguished by the deeply segmented leaves and pendulous segment apices. The range of these species overlaps in the Fraser Is./Rainbow Beach area of southeastern Queensland, and it may be that hybridisation has occurred as some individuals in that area are difficult to assign to either species. Livistona decora is a large canopy palm to 18 m tall; leaves are large and regularly segmented; segment apices are pendulous, and with a bifurcate cleft to 54% of the segment length; the inflorescence is unbranched, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, and with up to 13 partial inflorescences; bracts are loosely sheathing; flowers are yellow; fruit are globose to 18 mm diam., and shiny 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

  • Weeping Cabbage Palm, Ribbon Fan Palm. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A


  • Functionally dioecious palm. Trunk to 18 m tall, 25-30 cm dbh, leaf scars narrow, internodes broad to 30 cm wide, smooth, brown in newly exposed parts, grey with age, with shallow vertical fissures, petiole stubs frequently retained at the base of the trunk. Leaves 30-60 in a ± globose crown; petiole 150-280 cm long, 18-24 mm wide, adaxially flat or slightly concave, green throughout, margins with single curved black spines to 20 mm long in the proximal portion; leaf-base fibres moderately prominent, coarse, disintegrating; lamina costapalmate, regularly segmented, ± circular in outline, 120-185 cm long, coriaceous, adaxially bright green, abaxially lighter green, segments extended along the costa; lamina divided for 82- 88% of its length, with 70-84 segments, depth of apical cleft 44-54% of the segment length, apical lobes pendulous; parallel veins 6-7 each side of midrib; transverse veins thinner than parallel veins. Inflorescences unbranched at the base, not sexually dimorphic, 100-350 cm long, not extending beyond the limit of the crown, branched to 4 orders; 8-13 partial inflorescences; longest partial inflorescence to 110 cm, each with a single rachis bract; prophyll 37 cm long, 11-16 cm wide, woody; peduncular bract(s) lacking; rachis bracts glabrous to sparsely papillate; primary rachis bract loosely sheathing, apically fibrous-lacerate, bracts subtending partial inflorescence branches basally tubular, becoming winged distally, apex pointed; in the most distal partial inflorescence there are 2 vestigial bracts at the base; peduncle more or less terete, 6 cm wide at the base, glabrous; rachillae 5-20 mm long, papillose. Flowers solitary or in clusters of 2-6, funnel-shaped, 1.5-2 mm long, yellow; sepals ovate-triangular, ca 1.3 mm long, membranous, obtuse; petals broadly ovate, 1.5-1.8 mm long, fleshy, obtuse; stamens ca 1.5 mm long. Fruit globose, 12-18 mm diam., shiny black; epicarp with scattered lenticellular pores; suture line extends ca ½ length of fruit; mesocarp 1-3 mm thick, spongy, moist, fibres aggregated toward the endocarp; endocarp thin, brittle; pedicel to 2 mm long; Seedglobose, ca 10 mm wide; intrusion ½-¾ across endosperm. Eophyll 5-ribbed. (Dowe, J.L.: A taxonomic account of Livistona R.Br. (Arecaceae))A

Materials Examined

  • Specimens examined: AUSTRALIA: Queensland. Magnetic Is, Gustav Ck, on track 1.5 km from Mandalay Rd, Dowe 250 & 251 (BRI, FTG); Magnetic Is., Sandercoe 943 (BRI); Cape Cleveland, 1 km from Mangrove Ck towards AIMS, Dowe 330 (FTG); Cape Cleveland, 3 km from Mangrove Ck towards AIMS, Dowe 331 (FTG); Cape Cleveland, 5 km from Mangrove Ck towards AIMS, 19º15?S, 147º00?E, Dowe 332 (FTG); Palm Ck, Bruce Hwy, Briggs 2071 (NSW); Haughton R., near Bruce Hwy, Irvine 1817 & 1818 (QRS); West Barratta Ck, Bruce Hwy between Ayr and Giru, Rodd 3117 (NSW); East Barratta Ck, near Bruce Hwy, Irvine 1815 & 1816 (QRS); N of St Margaret Ck, Bruce Hwy between Ayr and Townsville, Moriarty 767 (CANB, BRI); 51 miles S of Townsville, adjacent to creek, Trapnell 305 (BRI, K); 27 miles N of Ayr, Bruce Hwy, Moriarty s.n. (BRI); Home Hill District, 1962, Wyatt s.n. (BRI); Cement Ck, tributary of Campaspe R., Dowe 708 (BRI, JCT); 35 km NNE of Proserpine, E of Dingo Beach Rd, on Earlando Beach turnoff, Rodd 3077 with Jacobs (BRI, K, NSW); NE of Mt Dryander near coast, 15 Apr. 1978, Byrnes s.n. (BRI); Cape Hillsborough Rd, 4.4 km from Seaforth Rd, Irvine 1840 (BRI, QRS); Mackay, Jane Ck, Irvine 1812, 1813 & 1814 (QRS); Mackay, pasture lands, Irvine 1748 (QRS); 10 km W of Mackay on bypass road, Rodd 3075 (NSW); Mackay, Jun 1970, V.K. Moriarty s.n. (BRI); Farleigh, Trapnell 26 (BRI); Denham Ra., headwaters of Sandy Ck, 520 m alt., 21º25'40.6"S, 148º06'01.6"E, Dowe 742 (BRI, JCT); Between Byfield and Maryvale, White 8197 (BRI); North Keppel Is., NE of Yeppoon, Thomas 183 (BRI); Yeppoon, Byfield, Flecker 11493 (BRI, QRS); Yepoon-Emu Park Rd, ca 11 km S of Yepoon, Rodd 3069 with Jacobs, (BH, BRI neotype, K, NSW); Yeppoon-Emu Park Rd, 11 km S of Yeppoon, Rodd 3070 with Jacobs (BRI, K); Yeppoon-Emu Park Rd, ca 11 km S of Yeppoon, Rodd 3069 (BH, BRI, K, NSW); Near Emu Park, Blake 19968 (BRI); Kinka Beach, Yepoon-Emu Park Rd, 2 km S of Kinka town, 23º20?S, 150º50?E, Dowe 312b (FTG); Joskeleigh, 15 miles E of Rockhampton, Everist 7634 (BRI, K, L); (Queensland) Moore?s Ck Ra., (pre-1875), Thozet s.n. (MEL); Palm Ck, 8 km S of Miriam Vale, Hind 257 (BRI); Eurimbula, near Bustard Bay, Jul 1966, Cooper s.n. (BRI); Just off Round Hill Head on inland of Peninsula, 27 Mar 1970, Everist s.n. (BRI); Between Agnes Waters and Round Hill Head, S of Bustard Bay, 28 Mar. 1970, Everist s.n. (BRI, K); Agnes Waters, 40 km E of Miriam Vale, McDonald 1224X & Batianoff (BRI); Wide Bay, Woodgate Reserve, 25º10'S, 152º30', Dowe 311 & 312a (FTG, JCT); Reedy Ck, 8 km SE of Lowmead on Bundaberg Rd, Rodd 3045 with Jacobs (BRI, K, NSW); Cooloola SF, ENE of Gympie, Moriarty 668, 668A & 669 (BRI); Tewantin, Blake 23786 (BRI, CANB, K).
    Specimens from cultivated material: Australia: Brisbane, Long Pocket, CSIRO, Tracey 15295 (BRI); France: Nice, May 1908, "sheet with older inflorescence", Robertson-Proschowsky (FI); Cannes, Villa Valetta, as "Copernicia cerifera", 12 Dec 1889, anon. s.n. (K); Indonesia: Java, Bogor Botanic Gardens, Garden No. XII.E.91, Furtado 30948 (BRI, K); Java, Bogor Botanic Gardens, undated, Beccari s.n. (BO, FI); Sri Lanka: Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, Q-291, Rutherford 119 with Bandara (K); United Kingdom: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, 4 Dec 1889, "as Livistona inermis' being the true plant of R.Br., Wendland s.n. (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)