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


Phoenix rupicola (Cliff date palm)

Kingdom:   Plantae
(Unranked):        Monocots
(Unranked):        Commelinids
Order:       Arecales
Family:      Arecaceae
Genus:      Phoenix
Species:     P. rupicola
Binomial name: Phoenix rupicola (rupicola - Latin, inhabitant of rocks)
Common name: Cliff date palm, Wild date palm, Indian date palm.

Phoenix rupicola is a species of flowering plant in the Palm family, native to the mountainous forests of India and Bhutan from 300 to 1200 m, usually occurring on cliffs, hillsides and similar terrain. It is threatened by habitat loss.
The palms have smooth, thin trunks up to 20 cm in width, usually clean of leaf bases except near the crown. Typical trees usually only reach a height of about 10m, but some hybrids have been noted at over 22m.
It has long, arching, bright green fronds which grow on upright axes but hang as the tree matures. As the leaves die they are shed leaving a smooth trunk ringed with narrow scars at the point of attachment.
The soft pinnate leaves are a rich deep green and are 2.5 to 3 m long. They have 35 cm leaflets, pinnately arranged, on 50 - 60 cm pseudo petioles armed with spines. The spines are much less numerous and less vicious than the other Phoenix species. The fruit is an oblong, yellow to orange drupe, 2 cm long containing a single large seed.

Photographed at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.