Normanbya F.Muell. ex Becc.
  • Ann. Jard. Bot. Buitenzorg 2: 91 (1885) 

Notes: Distribution: N. Queensland

General Description

Moderate to tall, solitary, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious palm. Stem erect, moderate, ringed with distinct leaf scars, vertically striate, grey, bulbous basally. Leaves pinnate, plumose, loosely arching; sheath forming a prominent crownshaft, pale, ashy grey, brownish near the top; petiole short or nearly lacking, channelled adaxially, rounded abaxially, densely covered with whitish tomentum and scattered brown, tattered scales; rachis long, arching, ± rounded adaxially and abaxially, densely covered in tattered brown scales; leaflets single-fold, irregularly arranged, divided nearly to the base into 7–9 linear segments, with or without midribs and with 1–3 large veins, apices of segments praemorse, only outermost 2 of each group with thickened margins, blade appearing dark green adaxially, bluish-white abaxially, adaxial surface glabrous, abaxial densely covered with uniseriate, medifixed scales, transverse veinlets not evident. Inflorescences infrafoliar, divaricate, somewhat pendulous in fruit, branched to 2 (or more) orders; peduncle short; prophyll tubular, rather narrow, 2-keeled laterally; peduncular bract like the prophyll, both deciduous; rachis bracts low, ridge-like, subtending spirally arranged, stout, angled branches and terete rachillae; rachilla bracts low, ridge-like, subtending triads basally, paired and solitary staminate flowers distally; floral bracteoles low, rounded. Staminate flowers symmetrical, bullet-shaped in bud, borne lateral to the pistillate on short, laterally flattened stalks; sepals 3, distinct, imbricate, rounded, upper margins ± truncate, minutely toothed; petals 3, distinct, valvate, ovate, evenly thickened; stamens 24–40, filaments short, awl-shaped, anthers elongate, shortly bifid apically, dorsifixed almost at the base, ± introrse, connective elongate, tanniniferous; pistillode flask-shaped with long narrow neck, slightly longer than the stamens, apically expanded. Pollen ellipsoidal asymmetric, occasionally pyriform; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, perforate, aperture margin similar; infratectum columellate; longest axis 64–83 µm [1/1]. Pistillate flowers ovoid; sepals 3, distinct, broadly imbricate, rounded pink to purplish-brown at maturity, stigmatic remains apical forming a with short pointed tips, margins slightly fringed; petals 3, like the sepals short beak; epicarp somewhat fleshy, drying wrinkled, mesocarp rather but longer and with short valvate tips; staminodes 3, broadly tooth-like; thin, with longitudinal, branched, straw-coloured fibres adherent to the gynoecium narrowly ovoid, unilocular, uniovulate, narrowing shortly smooth endocarp. Seed laterally attached with a long unbranched raphe, above the ovarian region to 3, large reflexed stigmas, ovule pendulous, hilum lateral, endosperm ruminate; embryo basal. Germination adjacent-form unknown. Fruit ovoid to obpyriform, pointed distally, dull salmon-ligular; eophyll bifid. Cytology not studied.

Diagnostic Description

Spectacular, moderate solitary pinnate-leaved palm, native to northeastern Queensland, Australia, with crownshaft and praemorse leaflets, the leaflets longitudinally divided into many segments that are splayed out, giving the whole leaf a foxtail appearance; the fruit is relatively large and has thin pale fibres next to the endocarp; the seed has ruminate endosperm.


Leaf (Tomlinson 1961), root (Seubert 1998a, 1998b) and fruit (Essig 1977).


Normanbya grows in moist complex and simple mesophyll vine forest with an annual rainfall of 3000 mm, close to rivers and streams, often in swampy areas and usually in gravelly alluvial soils, in areas where dry periods are not more than 40 days.


One species in the rain forest of northern Queensland, Australia.


The hard, dark wood was used by aborigines for making spears. It is a handsome ornamental requiring a warm moist, somewhat protected location.

Common Names

Black palm.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Australasia Australia Queensland


  • 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.