Arenga engleri

Common name

dwarf sugar palm, formosa palm

Description

Stem: Clustering palm to 5 m tall, usually covered with disintegrating, fibrous leaf bases that adhere to the stem after the leaf dies and falls away. Leaves: Pinnate, to 3 m long, with leaflets that are green above and silvery below. Leaflets are induplicate, the apical leaflet is praemorse, but other leaflets are more linear with jagged tips and margins. Flowers and fruits: Inflorescences are about 0.5 m long with many pendant branches. Flowers are yellow to orange, fragrant, with staminate and pistillate flowers on the same inflorescence. Ripe fruits are spherical, red, and about 1 cm long when mature. After the fruits ripen, the stem on which they grew dies while other stems in the cluster continue to grow. The fruits have a high concentration of oxalate that can be extremely irritating to human skin.

Diagnostic features

Field: a clustering palm that has pinnate, induplicate leaflets with jagged tips

Lab: dark scales along leaflet midrib

May be confused with

Arenga temula is a similar clustering palm, but its leaflets are green above and below.

Distribution

Native to Ryukyu Islands of Japan to Taiwan

Additional comments

Extreme care is required when handling the fruits of this species.

Scientific name

Arenga engleri Becc.

Family

Arecaceae/Palmae

Synonyms

Didymosperma engleri ( Becc. ) Warb.

Last Updated May 2014

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