T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Howea forsteriana (Kentia palm)

Kingdom:   Plantae
(Unranked):        Angiosperms
(Unranked):        Monocots
(Unranked):        Commelinids
Order:       Arecales
Family:      Arecaceae
Subfamily: Arecoideae
Tribe:        Areceae
Subtribe:    Linospadicinae
Genus:      Howea
Species:     H. forsteriana
Binomial name: Howea forsteriana
Common names: Kentia palm, Kentia, Paradise Palm, Sentry Palm, Thatch Palm.

Howea forsteriana is a single trunk monoecious pinnate palm tree endemic to Lord Howe Island off Australia where it grows mainly as an understorey plant in moist forests. It is also widely grown on Norfolk Island. It is a relatively slow-growing palm, eventually reaching heights of 6 to 18 m tall by 6 m wide. Its fronds can reach 3 m long.
There is no crown shaft on the H. forsteriana.  The trunk may be swollen at the base and below the leaves it has a collection of thatched old leaf bases.  These will eventually fall off the tree.  Below these old leaf bases there is a tubular trunk with prominent rings.  In the sun, this trunk is a tan color.  In shade H. forsteriana trunk may maintain a green colour with visible rings.
The flowers emerge from within the leaves or right below the lowest leaves.  They are usually on multiple flower spikes side by side.  When fruits develop they are tightly packed along long the non-branching flower spike which hangs down towards. The seed colour is initially green and over time (up to 2 year) they turn from green to yellow to orange-red to a red and black colour. The species is considered vulnerable by the World Conservation Union. It is cultivated on Lord Howe Island by collecting wild seeds and germinating them for export worldwide as an ornamental garden or house plant.

Photographed at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.