| Pritchardia (pritch-AHR-dee-ah) |
Pritchardia affinis 5 National Tropical Botanical Gardens, Kalehua, Kauaii, Hawaii 130711 - Photo: Dr. Jan Thomas Johansson (© 2014 Jan Thomas Johansson).
Habitat and DistributionHawaii. Grouped around brackish water ponds near sea level to scattered or
Coastal sites and inland in gulches in dry to moist forests up to about 2,300 feet in Kona, Kaʻū, and Puna, Hawaiʻi Island. At sea level, they are found in groups around brackishwater ponds and even on the beach in sand.
To 10 m tall; dead, persistent leaves often forming a skirt, proximal margins of petiole with a few to moderate hair-like fibers; leaf blade diamond-shaped in outline and strongly folded from lateral compression, divided 1/2, slightly waxy-glaucous, abaxial surface incompletely covered with scattered lepidia, segment tips mostly stiff, occasionally drooping; inflorescences composed of 1-5 panicles, shorter than to equaling petioles in flower and fruit, panicles branched to 2 orders, rachillae glabrous; fruits 12-23 x 12-23 mm, globose. (Hodel, D. 2007)/Palmweb.
Beccari (1913) based Pritchardia maideniana on two unnumbered collections that. J. Boorman had made from one or two cultivated plants, purportedly of Hawaiian origin, in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia, and that J. Maiden had forwarded to Beccari in 1911 and 1912 (one is dated 1911 and the other is dated 1912). Because it is more complete, I have selected Boorman's 1912 collection at FI as the lectotype. I have examined photographs of the types at FI, the (or one of the) original living plant(s) growing in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney from which the types were collected, and living plants in Hawaii grown from seeds from the Australian plant, and I can find no differences between Pritchardia maideniana and Pritchardia a(finis. The latter is synonymized here. Pritchardia maideniana is distinguished by its cuneate (diamond-shaped in outline) leaf blades (the result of conspicuous lateral folding, somewhat like that of an accordion) incompletely covered abaxially with lepidia, and inflorescences shorter than or equaling petioles in flower and fruit. It is similar to P. hillebrandii, but the latter differs in the rounder leaf blades with a distinctive and conspicuous glaucous covering. (Hodel, D. 2007)/Palmweb.
Pritchardia maideniana info: Thought to be native to the Big Island along the southern coast. Description: Typically grows to about 30' but can grow twice that. Leaves are rhomboid and fairly stiff and non-droopy. Tends to form a skirt of dead leaves. Leaflets divided to about half the length of the leaf. Flowers are about the length of the petioles. Matures fruits are black, spherical and about 1" in diameter. Culture: probably the most cold hardy of all the Pritchardia and easily the easiest to grow in a Mediterranean climate such as Southern California. Frost damage is minimal in the high 20s, particularly on older plants. Many trees have survived hard, though short freezes in California. Plants there grow up to and a bit over 30' tall. In Califormia they tend to hold only 10- 15 green leaves at a time and one of the least ornamental of the Pritchardia. Plants in the tropics look much more lush and hold over twice as many living leaves. References include Loulu, The Hawaiian Palm, but Don Hodel 2012. (Courtesy Geoff Stein) Editing by Edric.
In general, few serious pests bother loulu. However, an introduced insect, the New guinea sugarcane weevil (Rhabdoscelus obscurus) has caused extensive damage, even death, on cultivated loulu. An introduced fly parasitoid (Lixophaga sphenophori) has been successful in reducing weevil populations in some instances. Proper irrigation seems to be especially important to reduce or avoid weevil infestations. Whereas, chemical control seems to mostly ineffective and requires further study.
Pritchardia maideniana is an easy to grow palm but not often available for the landscape. Pritchardia maideniana vary in shape. Specimens raised in dry and/or infertile soils tend to be smaller in stature with smaller leaves. Light also affects the plant's form while those grown in full sun are more compact. This palm prefers a sunny, well drained, and moist location. Growth rate: It is a slow growing, short stocky palm. Soil: It likes organic soil, but is adaptable to clay and loam both slightly alkaline and acidic. Good drainage is also important. Fertilization: Need a perfect fertilizer diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements or slow release fertilizer. Micro-nutrient deficiencies are occasional problems. If it doesn't get enough Mn and Fe (Iron), the leaves take on a rather unhealthy yellow colour. Micro-nutrient deficiencies only show up on soil with a high pH. Fertilize often for faster growth. Water Requirements: Needs regular water, do not let dry out between waterings. however it does not want to sit in continually wet, mucky soil. The roots and lower trunk can rot if soil is kept too moist. Light: Prefers full sun but will tolerate half day sun. Hardiness: It is adapted to tropical and subtropical climates, young plants are more cold sensitive. Maintenance: Remove dead fronds and spent fruiting stalks for a clean landscape appearance. Fronds can be left on the palm to form a skirt for natural settings. Palms recycle nutrients from dead or dying fronds and use them for healthier fronds. Palms only have a set number of new leaves that can sprout and grow per year and removing fronds will not increase that number. If you cut off more than what will grow annually, you could be left with a pretty bare and bald palm. Pest & Disease: Mealybugs and whiteflies underneath the leaves can present problems at times if not kept in check. A generous spray of water can wash them off. Ornamental: It is cultivated as an ornamental tree, and planted in gardens and parks in tropical and sub-tropical climates either as a single specimen or in groups. Culture in containers is possible although growth rates are slower. A bright patio will provide an excellent environment for young specimens which can eventually be planted in a sunny location. (llifle.com)
Comments and Curiosities
Etymology: Pritchardia name is dedicated to William Thomas Pritchard (1829-1907), British official stationed in Fiji in the 19th Century, British counsul in Fiji, adventurer, and author of Polynesian Reminiscences in 1866. The specific epithet maideniana is named for the Australian botanist and former director of the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney, Joseph Henry Maiden (1859-1925).
Conservation: Extinct in habitat, all plants in Hawaii, grown from seed, all seed from Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia.
Uses: The fruits called hāwane or wāhane were peeled and eaten by early Hawaiians. They collected young fruits. The flavor of young fruit with the soft interior is similar to coconut. The trunks loulu were notched for climbing to gather the immature fruits and fronds. Older specimens still bear notches that can be seen today. The fronds, or leaves, called lau hāwane were used by the early Hawaiians for thatching and more recently as plaiting such as papale (hats) and fans. (Encyclopedia of Life curator Dr. David Eickhoff)
"Pritchardia maideniana, which was formerly known as Pritchardia affinis until late 2007, it's probably endemic to the western coast of the Island of Hawaii. It is thought to be extinct as a naturally occurring species. It is known to grow from sea level to an elevation of 2000 feet in mesic forests, where it is probably an escape from cultivation. Specimens of this species are growing in areas of East Maui from Kaupo to Ha’o'u and elsewhere on the island. I would speculate that seeds or seedlings were brought to Maui from the Kona area of the Big Island in the days of old for cultivation where the leaves were subsequently used for thatching. The species native to East Maui, Pritchardia arecina and Pritchardia woodii, grow in more inaccessible locales in the rain forests of Haleakala at elevations of 2000 to 4000 feet. In pre-contact Hawaii, there was considerable interaction between the residents of West Hawaii and East Maui; travel between the two locales was by canoe. The East Maui coast was prized by the warrior chiefs of ancient Hawaii for its natural resources and fertile farming lands. The epithet honors Joseph H. Maiden, a 19th-century Australian botanist. It has unknown origins. The former name carries the epithet that is Latin for “similar to”; probably on account of early identification not being certain of this species belonging in the genus Pritchardia; its affinities differ from most of the other members of the genus, i.e., it is somewhat salt tolerant and grows at low elevations." (Bill Chang)
"The trunk of this tree grows to a height of 55 feet; some even to 80 feet. The diameter of the trunk is 12 to 15 inches and light to dark tan in color. The leaf crown is open and hemispherical unless dead leaves persist. Individual leaves are 3 to 4 feet long on 4 foot long petioles and are roughly wedge shaped, deeply costapalmate with stiff segments, deep green and slightly paler underneath. The inflorescences are shorter than the leaf crown with stout hairless yellowish flower clusters. They produce round black fruit less than 1 inch in diameter. A distinguishing character of this species is the long, tangled, woolly hairs on the underside of the petioles and at the base of the lower leaf blade. Chances are these trees are decendants of trees (seeds) brought from the Kona area of the Big Island to this site so the leaves could be used for thatching of structures on the heiau and the fruit eaten by the residents of the area. There are other specimens of this species growing along the Hana coast." (Bill Chang)
"Historically found only on the Big Island in the Kohala Mountains and along the western and southeastern coasts, Pritchardia maideniana in recent times is found much dispersed. Specimens have been noticed scattered throughout much of the coastal range at Kiholo, Kukio, near Palani Road, on Ali’i Drive in Kailua, in Captain Cook, at Hookena, at Miloli’i, and at Punalu’u. Most of these sightings have been in areas of human habitation as was the cases on the Island of Maui mentioned earlier. It is highly likely that these trees were cultivated by the Hawaiians living in these areas rather than having occurred there naturally." (Bill Chang)
"The species is one of five native to the Island of Hawaii, however, its place of origin is not known. It is also found in the South Pacific, but only as cultivated specimens. The species’s capacity to grow in low, dry elevations and its salt tolerance probably made it an ideal candidate for cultivation by the early Hawaiians and the South Pacific Polynesians. The species appears to have more genetic affinities with the Fiji and Tonga species. Perhaps its habits were fashioned by early cultivation of the species by the Polynesians." (Bill Chang)
"As with just about all of the other loulu, the major threats to Pritchardia maideniana are predation on seeds by roof rats, feral pigs and man; loss of habitat lands due to development, stochastic extinction, reduced reproduction due to lesser numbers of existing individuals." (Bill Chang)
"This is my least favorite Pritchardia (there are maybe 30 species) but it maybe the easiest go grow in southern California and most hardy. It is a fast palm with barely divided, pleated fan leaves. The leaves of this species are relatively narrow compared to the most popoular species like P pacifica where they are nearly a complete circle. Pritchardia affinis is from Hawaii, as are most Pritchardias that can survive in so CAl. Once this palm gets tall, at least here in so Cal, it becomes a bit less ornamental and can look ratty after the winds. In general, Pritchardias don't like our high hot dry winds here in So Cal. It is still a good palm but doesn't quite provide that same degree of 'tropical' that most of the other more round leaf Pritchardias do. Rare palm in cultivation and not sure what island it came from... haven't found it in nature (yet). First known from some Australian collections. Palm grows to 15-20' (though the one I saw looked taller) and has large, wedge-shaped stiff upright leaves without any drooping of leaflets to speak of. Palm seems to hold an esceptionally full head of leaves. Never seen it tried in southern California so no idea on cold hardiness." (Geoff Stein)
"This specimen grows in a private garden in Muolea on the coast of East Maui just south of Hana. There does not seem to be much variation in physical traits among the different specimens of this species that I have encountered. This species is native to low elevation; changes in locale at low elevations does not seem to produce noticeable changes in character." Photo by Bill Chang
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.
Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.
Special thanks to Palmweb.org, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.
Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).
Hodel, D. 2007.
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.