Archontophoenix alexandrae

Common name

king palm, alexandra palm, king alexander palm

Description

Stems: Solitary, slender, gray, to 15 m tall and up to 25 cm in diameter, bulging at the base, with ridged, "stair-step" rings of leaf scars. Leaves: Pinnate to 2-3 m long, with a rachis that twists near the midpoint and linear leaflets growing in a single plane. The crown shaft is up to 1 m long, somewhat swollen at the base, and varying in color from light green to dull purple or reddish-brown. The rachis is more or less covered with reddish-brown tomentum on the underside. Upper leaflet surface is grassy green to dark green; undersurface, whitish-gray or glaucous with prominent secondary veins. Flowers and fruits: Inflorescence less than 1 m long with many pendulous branches. Male and female flowers are greenish white to cream-color and are borne on the same inflorescence. The red, ovoid fruits are 1-1.5 cm long and have remnants of the stigma at the apex.

Diagnostic features

Field: Erect, solitary palm with "stair-step" rings and bulging base; slender crown shaft. Leaflets in a single plane, green above and silvery below. New leaves are sometimes bronze-colored when they emerge.

Lab: Silvery scales on leaflet undersides and reddish-brown tomentum on the rachis, along with prominent secondary veins

May be confused with

Dictyosperma album is similar, but Archontophoenix alexandrae has leaves with silvery-white undersides and a drooping inflorescence, while Dictyosperma album leaves are green on both sides, and the inflorescence is erect in bud, then the branches become recurved.

Distribution

Native to Eastern Australia, often in wet areas

Additional comments

Palms in this beautiful genus are used in landscaping, but they can be sensitive to the stresses of transplanting.

Scientific name

Archontophoenix alexandrae H.Wendl. & Drude

Family

Arecaceae/Palmae

Synonyms

Ptychosperma alexandrae F. Mueller

Last Updated May 2014

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