Calamus nambariensis

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Calamus (KAL-ah-muhs)
Meyseng, Yunnan, China. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Calamus (KAL-ah-muhs)
None set.
Native Continent
Please set a value for continent.
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
pyant kyein; (Thailand, and Myanmar)

Habitat and Distribution

India (North-east), China (North-west and South Yunnan and, probably, South-east China) and probably also
Tikon Village, Myanmar. 2013
Thailand (North) and Laos (North and Central). In tropical moist forest, in China at 1600 m. Probably at 1400 - 1800 m in Laos.


There is a complex group of cirrate Calamus taxa in the mountainous area from Sikkim through to Hainan. They all share the characteristics of a fruiting perianth remaining partly tubular and large fruit (at least 24 mm x 20 mm) with channelled scales. This group includes C. inermis T. Anderson, C. khasianus Becc., C. nambariensis Becc., C. polydesmus Becc., C. doriaei Becc. and C. obovoideus S. J. Pei & S. Y. Chen. The last three appear to have been collected only once each, and even the one moderately well-known species, C. nambariensis, has probably been collected fewer than 20 times. This latter species is moderately widespread at high-altitudes in northern Indochina. Calamus obovoideus is known only from its Indochinese type locality. Calamus khasianus has been reported from North Thailand (Hodel & Vatcharakorn (1998), based on Hodel, D. R. & Vatcharakorn, P 1792 in BH) but we have seen this specimen and consider that it cannot be identified at present. Lao and Thai material lacks mature fruit, so cannot be identified with complete certainty. The group requires critical revision, a task which will require fresh collecting in North Laos, Myanmar and north-eastern India. A major difficulty is that three of the key diagnostic characters (leaflet arrangement, inflorescence size and sheath armature) are now known to vary greatly within individuals. This variation is usually poorly represented on herbarium sheets. For example, the authors examined a large mature individual of C. nambariensis (sensu Pei et al. 1989) at Menglong in Yunnan and found that on basal leaves the leaflets were strongly grouped and divaricate but on leaves 5 - 15 m up the stem they became markedly less divaricate whilst on some of the uppermost leaves leaflets were entirely regularly arranged. Individuals seen in Laos showed leaflets ranging from strongly grouped and divaricate (on some leaves) to grouped at the base and more or less regular towards the tip (on others). This is significant because grouped vs regular leaflet arrangement was the sole feature used by Beccari to diagnose C. nambariensis from C. inermis. Furthermore, our observations in the closely related C. wailong and C. palustris var. cochinchinensis show that the length, erectness and 'diffuseness' of the inflorescences can also vary remarkably (see under C. wailong for further details). In all of the cirrate Calamus species from Laos the degree of spininess also varies from sheath to sheath, armed and unarmed knees (for example) often being found on the same plant. Beccari (1908) stressed the fact that C. inermis, C. nambariensis and C. khasianus may well be conspecific, in which case the name C. inermis would have priority. The observations above strongly support this idea. However, we prefer to maintain current usage at present because 1) C. inermis is such a poorly known taxon, 2) C. nambariensis is a well established name for this taxon in the region and 3) a name change now would perhaps soon be superseded by other changes when a fuller revision took place. This stability will ease the exchange of information between rattan planters in the region. (J. Dransfield, A Synopsis of the Rattans (Arecaceae: Calamoideae) of Laos and Neighbouring Parts of Indochina. 2002)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Comments and Curiosities

Uses: The cane is of high quality and this is a preferred species in trade in South Yunnan.

Conservation: Unknown, probably of little concern since it occupies such a wide range, although Renuka (1999) noted considerable recent declines in North-east India.

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, 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).

J. Dransfield, A Synopsis of the Rattans (Arecaceae: Calamoideae) of Laos and Neighbouring Parts of Indochina. 2002

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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