Latania Comm. ex Juss.
  • Gen. Pl.: 39 (1789) 

Notes: Distribution: Mascarenes

General Description

Moderate, solitary, mostly unarmed, pleonanthic, dioecious, tree palms. Stem erect, rough, marked with spiral, elliptic leaf scars. Leaves induplicate, costapalmate, marcescent in young individuals, abscising cleanly in trunked specimens; sheath narrow, inserted at an angle, asymmetrical, angled, with a flange toward the lower side, split horizontally at the base, smooth or densely tomentose; petiole robust, long, adaxially deeply channelled near the base, distally flattened, abaxially rounded, adaxial surface smooth, abaxial surface densely floccose, margin smooth or with a few shallow teeth; adaxial hastula short but conspicuous, triangular or rounded, abaxial hastula absent; blade divided to ca. 1/3–1/2 its length along adaxial folds into regular, stiff, single-fold segments, these shortly bifid or not, acute to acuminate, abaxial costa and ridges of folds often densely floccose, midribs prominent abaxially, transverse veinlets not evident. Inflorescences interfoliar, staminate and pistillate superficially dissimilar. Staminate inflorescence with elongate peduncle, elliptic at base in cross-section, adaxially channelled, thin distally; prophyll short, wide, tubular basally, 2-keeled, with a sharp pointed limb about equal in length to the tubular base, abaxially densely floccose; peduncular bracts 1–2–several, loosely sheathing, resembling the prophyll but with a single keel; rachis longer than the peduncle; rachis bracts like the peduncular; first-order branches short, not exceeding subtending bracts, flat, often wide, crescentic in cross-section, branched digitately at the tip to form several (1–14) rachillae; rachillae short or long, spike-like, terete, bearing short, crowded tubular bracts, each bract connate laterally with proximal and distal bracts to form a pit enclosing a single staminate flower. Staminate flowers each bearing a stiff cupular bracteole; calyx tubular basally, 3-lobed, irregularly rounded, thicker distally; corolla with a stalk-like base carrying the rest of the flower out of the pit and 3 spathulate lobes; stamens 15–30 or more, filaments short, slightly tapering, anthers basifixed, latrorse; pistillode columnar, ovarian part slightly expanded. Pollen ellipsoidal, usually slightly asymmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, perforate and micro-channelled, or rugulate, aperture margin similar; infratectum columellate; longest axis 34–50 µm [3/3]. Pistillate inflorescence with prophyll, peduncular, and first-order bracts similar to staminate, but first-order branches fewer, each bearing only 1 or 2 rachillae; rachillae wider, longer, sheathed in fewer, larger tubular bracts, lower-most and distal bracts empty, central bracts, each subtending a pistillate flower, bracts tightly surrounding base of flower but not forming pits. Pistillate flowers fewer, globose, much larger, widely spaced in a 2/5 phyllotaxy, solitary, each bearing 2 stiff, cupular, imbricate, ± connate bracteoles; sepals 3, stiff, imbricate, rounded; petals like the sepals; staminodes 6–9, connate in a low lobed cupule, vestigial anthers sometimes present; gynoecium globose, trilocular, triovulate, style expanded, stigma undeveloped, locules uniovulate but 2 lateral bodies beside the ovule, ovule orthotropous. Fruit usually developing from all 3 carpels, large, oblong or obovoid, stigmatic area apical or subapical, usually 3–(1–2)-seeded, (4 carpels often present); epicarp smooth, mesocarp fleshy, endocarp comprising 3 separate pyrenes, hard, tanniniferous, pyrenes obovoid, variously ridged and sculptured, sculpturing diagnostic for species. Seed almond-shaped, smooth, basally attached, endosperm homogeneous; embryo apical. Germination remote-tubular; eophyll digitate. Cytology: 2n = 28.

Diagnostic Description

Solitary moderate dioecious tree fan palms of the Mascarene Islands, distinctive in the the sculptured endocarp.


Leaf (Tomlinson 1961), root (Seubert 1997), floral (Uhl and Moore 1971, only gynoecium studied).


Once common on coastal cliffs, savannahs, and ravines, the species are now almost extinct in the wild, but are widely cultivated in botanic gardens where they appear to hybridise freely. Some native trees of Latania loddigesii are present on Round Island. Latania lontaroides, endemic to Reunion, is occasionally left in fields as isolated individuals whereas L. verschaffeltii, endemic and widespread on Rodrigues, is reduced to isolated individuals and a small population at Fond la Bonté above Baie aux Huîtres. There may be a few native L. loddigesii remaining on Mauritius.


Three species in the Mascarene Islands.


Leaves have been used as thatch and the trunk as a source of wood; the young seeds are said to be edible. All species are handsome ornamentals.

Common Names

Latan palms, latanier.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Africa Western Indian Ocean Mauritius
  • Rodrigues
  • Réunion


  • 1 J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008
  • 2 Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

 Information From

Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet Accessed on 21/04/2013
  • A Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
  • B
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from
  • C Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • D See You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement.