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  1. Family: Arecaceae Bercht. & J.Presl
    1. Caryota L.

      1. This genus is accepted, and its native range is Tropical & Subtropical Asia to Vanuatu.

    About 13 species occurring from Sri Lanka, India, southern China, southwards through Southeast Asia, Malesia to northern Australia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
    Leaf, petiole, stem, root (Tomlinson 1961), root (Seubert 1998a, 1998b), stamen development following a pattern somewhat similar to that of Lodoicea (Borasseae) and Ptychosperma (Areceae) (Uhl and Moore 1980).
    General Description
    Moderate to large, solitary or clustered, hapaxanthic, monoecious palms. Stems with ± elongate internodes, obscured at first by persistent fibrous leaf bases and sheaths, usually becoming bare, conspicuously ringed with narrow leaf scars, striate. Leaves induplicately bipinnate (except in juveniles where pinnate), marcescent or abscising under their own weight; sheath triangular, eroding opposite the petiole into a mass of strong black fibres, a ligule-like extension frequently present, disintegrating into strong black fibres, the sheath surface covered in a dense felt of indumentum and caducous chocolate-brown scales, sometimes in broad stripes; petiole scarcely to well developed, channelled adaxially, rounded abaxially, bearing indumentum like the sheath; secondary rachises similar in form to the primary rachis, arranged ± regularly except rarely in 1 or 2 species where the most proximal few crowded; leaflets very numerous, borne ± regularly along the secondary rachises, obliquely wedge-shaped with no distinct midrib but several major veins diverging from the swollen, sometimes stalk-like base, upper margins deeply praemorse, blade concolorous, with broad bands of caducous chocolate-brown scales abaxially, transverse veinlets obscure. Inflorescences bisexual, solitary, produced in a basipetal sequence, interfoliar and sometimes infrafoliar (the proximal few), usually branched to 1 order, rarely to 2 orders (Caryota ophiopellis) or 3 orders (C. zebrina) or rarely spicate (C. monostachya), usually pendulous; peduncle ± circular in cross-section, densely scaly; prophyll tubular at first, soon splitting, 2-keeled, relatively small, densely tomentose and/or scaly; peduncular bracts to ca. 8, conspicuous, large, enclosing the inflorescence in bud, coriaceous, tubular at first, tending to split irregularly, usually densely tomentose and/or scaly; rachis shorter or longer than the peduncle; rachillae spirally arranged, densely crowded, usually scaly, each subtended by a small, low, triangular bract; the rachilla base usually somewhat swollen, with a short to moderately long bare section above this, distal portion of rachilla bearing close or rather distant, spirally arranged, protandrous triads, each subtended by an inconspicuous rachilla bract; floral bracteoles shallow, rounded. Staminate flowers usually ± elongate, symmetrical; sepals 3, ± distinct, coriaceous, ± rounded, imbricate; petals 3, valvate, coriaceous, connate at the very base, considerably exceeding the sepals; stamens 6–ca. 100, the filaments short, basally sometimes connate, anthers ± linear, latrorse, the connective sometimes prolonged into a point; pistillode absent. Pollen ellipsoidal, ± bi-symmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine intectate, usually finely and densely clavate, less frequently spiny, spines attached to smooth upper surface of foot layer, in some species spines more numerous along aperture margin, or gemmate, occasionally with gemmae linked together to form incomplete reticulum, or coalesced into larger irregular units; longest axis ranging from 26–31 µm; post-meiotic tetrads usually tetrahedral, sometimes tetragonal or, rarely, rhomboidal [8/14]. Pistillate flower ± globular or elongate; sepals 3, coriaceous, rounded, imbricate, connate at the very base; petals 3, coriaceous, valvate, connate into a tube in the basal ca. 1/3–1/2; staminodes 0–6; ovary rounded or somewhat 3-angled, trilocular with 1–2 locules fertile, septal glands present basally, stigma trilobed, apical, ovule hemianatropous, inserted adaxially at the base. Fruit globose, 1–2-seeded, with apical stigmatic remains; epicarp smooth, becoming dull, bright or dark coloured at maturity, mesocarp fleshy, filled with abundant, irritant, needle-like crystals, endocarp not differentiated. Seeds basally attached, irregularly spherical or hemispherical, somewhat grooved or smooth, endosperm homogeneous or ruminate; embryo lateral. Germination remote-tubular; eophyll bifid with rhombic, divergent, praemorse segments. Cytology: 2n = 34.
    Fishtail palms.
    Ranging from monsoon climates to perhumid areas, from sea level to ca. 2000 m in the mountains, in secondary forest (especially Caryota mitis) and in primary forest.
    Solitary or clustered, monoecious hapaxanthic palms of South and Southeast Asia to the western Pacific, instantly recognisable by the doubly pinnate leaf with fishtail leaflets.
    All species appear to be utilised in some way. The apex is edible and good. Stems provide sago, the larger species being especially favoured. Timber of Caryota urens is used for construction purposes. Leaf sheath fibres are extremely durable and harvested for thatch, cordage, and other purposes. The woolly indumentum on leaf sheaths, petioles, and rachis is used variously as tinder or wadding. Inflorescences, especially of C. urens, are tapped for palm wine or sugar. There are several other minor local uses. Many species are cultivated as ornamentals.



    Native to:

    Andaman Is., Assam, Bangladesh, Bismarck Archipelago, Borneo, Cambodia, China South-Central, China Southeast, East Himalaya, Hainan, India, Jawa, Laos, Lesser Sunda Is., Malaya, Maluku, Myanmar, New Guinea, Nicobar Is., Philippines, Queensland, Solomon Is., Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Thailand, Vanuatu, Vietnam

    Introduced into:

    Comoros, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nepal, Ogasawara-shoto, Puerto Rico, Trinidad-Tobago

    Accepted Species


    Other Data

    Caryota L. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Dec 29, 2006 Averyanov, L. [CBL962], Vietnam K000462528
    Dec 29, 2006 Kudrjavceva, E. [946], Vietnam K000462522
    Dec 19, 2006 Kudrjavceva, E. [383], Vietnam K000462514
    Jan 1, 2006 Takhtajan, A. [431], Vietnam K000462461
    Jan 1, 2006 Takhtajan, A. [473], Vietnam K000462462
    Jan 1, 2006 Takhtajan, A. [8595], Vietnam K000462463
    Jan 1, 2006 Averyanov, L. [VH4688], Vietnam K000462486
    Jan 1, 2006 Averyanov, L. [VH4806], Vietnam K000462491
    Jan 1, 2006 Averyanov, L. [VH3325], Vietnam K000462502
    Sep 10, 2005 Rustiami, H. [HR437], Indonesia K000209570
    Jul 13, 1989 Smith, G. [GC25], Thailand K000209358
    Mar 6, 1975 Kerr, A.F.G. [3574], Thailand K000209357
    Jan 1, 1973 Kerr, A.F.G. [11381], Thailand K000209356
    Waterhouse, J.H.L. [177], Solomon Is. K000030074
    Waterhouse, J.H.L. [177], Solomon Is. K000208808
    Larsen, K. [9867], Thailand K000209352
    Larsen, K. [9867], Thailand K000209353
    Whitmore, T. [BSIP2326], Solomon Is. K000030069
    Whitmore, T. [BSIP2326], Solomon Is. K000208803
    Whitmore, T. [BSIP2326], Solomon Is. K000208804
    Smith, G. [GC133], Thailand 53716.000
    Smith, G. [GC133], Thailand 53717.000
    Smith, G. [GC131], Thailand 53724.000
    Smith, G. [GC25], Thailand 53736.000
    Smith, G. [GC26], Thailand 55570.000
    Smith, G. [GC133], Thailand 55572.000
    Smith, G. [GC133], Thailand 55573.000
    Clemens [4411], Vietnam K000209351
    Kerenga, K. [LAE77344], Papua New Guinea K000525618
    Ellen, R.F. [761], Indonesia 73161.000
    Thurston, J.B. [s.n.], Papua New Guinea K000525611
    Bateson [110], Papua New Guinea K000525612
    Bateson [110], Papua New Guinea K000525613
    Guppy [61], Solomon Is. K000030071
    Guppy [237], Solomon Is. K000030072
    Averyanov, L. [VH1934], Vietnam K000462479
    Averyanov, L. [VH3588], Vietnam K000462503
    Nguyen V.D. [1856], Vietnam 65550.000
    Nguyen V.D. [1337], Vietnam 77749.000


    First published in Sp. Pl.: 1189 (1753)

    Accepted by

    • Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. MIM, Deurne.


    Palmweb - Palms of the World Online

    • J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008


    Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
    'The Herbarium Catalogue, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet [accessed on Day Month Year]'. Please enter the date on which you consulted the system.

    Interactive Key to Seed Plants of Malesia and Indo-China
    The Malesian Key Group (2010) Interactive Key to Seed Plants of Malesia and Indo-China (Version 2.0, 28 Jul 2010) The Nationaal Herbarium Nederland Leiden and The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

    Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
    Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet Accessed on 21/04/2013
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