Latania loddigesii

Common name

blue latan palm

Description

Stem: Solitary, upright stems to 10 m tall and up to 25 cm in diameter, bulging at the base of the stem, with irregular, slightly raised leaf scar rings on a dark grayish background. Leaves: Costapalmate, induplicate, up to 3 m wide, divided into stiff, single-fold segments about 1/3 to 1/2 the length of the leaf blade, with undivided leaf segment tips. The leaf color is a pale waxy blue to blue-green with dense, pale, wooly (floccose) tomentum on the underside. The leaf sheath splits to form a V-shape below the petiole, the petiole is smooth and sharp-edged or armed with minute teeth along the margin near its base, and the hastula is flat and somewhat arrow-shaped. Flowers and fruit: Yellowish staminate and pistillate flowers grow on separate palms. Inflorescences with male flowers shorter (to 1 m long) and have more branches than those with female flowers (to 2 m long). Fruits are oblong (up to 2.5 cm wide and 7.5 cm long) and greenish-brown in color. The fruits are similar to those of a peach or apricot in that a woody "pit" with a textured surface encloses a smooth, almond-shaped seed.

Diagnostic features

Field: Latania loddigesii is a solitary, erect palm with undulating leaf scars; waxy, blue-green costapalmate leaves; and a triangular or arrow-shaped hastula. This species has a sculptured fruit endocarp (pit) containing a smooth seed.

Lab: The wooly scales on the underside of the leaves are whitish to pale pinkish beige.

May be confused with

Bismarkia nobilis is also a solitary, erect palm with waxy, blue-green costapalmate leaves, but its hastula is asymetrical and spoon-shaped. The wooly scales on the underside of Latania loddigesii leaves are pale, not dark cinnamon-colored as in Bismarkia nobilis, and the seeds of Latania are enclosed in sculpted pyrenes (like a peach seed inside a pit), unlike those of Bismarkia.

Distribution

Native to Mascarene Islands

Additional comments

Occasionally cultivated in Hawaii

Scientific name

Latania loddigesii Mart.

Family

Arecaceae/Palmae

Synonyms

Cleophora loddigesii ( Mart. ) O.F.Cook

Latania glaucophylla Hort. ex Baker

Last Updated May 2014

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