Physokentia Becc.
  • Atti Soc. Tosc. Sci. Nat. Pisa, Mem. 44: 152 (1934) 

Notes: Distribution: Bismarck Arch. to SW. Pacific

General Description

Solitary, small to moderate, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious palms. Stem erect, ringed with leaf scars, stilt roots conspicuously developed, forming a cone supporting the stem base. Leaves pinnate, neatly abscising; sheaths tubular, forming a conspicuous crownshaft, usually bearing a dense covering of ± caducous, floccose tomentum, the mouth lacking a ligule; petiole absent or short, ± rounded, variously clothed in scales and/or tomentum; rachis variously scaly or tomentose like the petiole; leaflets regularly arranged, single-fold, acute or acuminate (or minutely lobed in Physokentia tete) or blade irregularly divided into single- or several-fold, narrow to broad, ± sigmoid leaflets, the proximal acute or acuminate, the distal, including the apical pair, shallowly lobed, the lobes corresponding to the adaxial ribs, blade adaxially glabrous or with minute, dot-like scales along the main veins, abaxially rather densely covered in minute, dot-like scales, the main ribs also bearing numerous conspicuous ramenta, transverse veinlets inconspicuous. Inflorescences solitary, infrafoliar, branching to 2 (rarely 3) orders proximally, to 1 order distally, apparently protandrous; peduncle short, winged at the base, narrow elliptic in cross-section; prophyll inserted near the base of the peduncle, open abaxially in bud, not completely encircling the peduncle at the insertion; peduncular bract inserted just above and exceeding the prophyll, completely encircling the peduncle, tubular, enclosing the inflorescence in bud, ± beaked, splitting abaxially, abscising with the prophyll at anthesis; rachis longer than the peduncle, but itself relatively short, bearing ca. 12–20, spirally arranged, first-order branches; rachis bracts inconspicuous; rachillae spreading, curved or ± pendulous, somewhat flexuous, ± angled, bearing spirally arranged triads of white to red flowers in the proximal ca. 1/3, distally bearing solitary or paired staminate flowers, rarely rachillae bearing only staminate flowers; rachilla bracts prominent, rounded to acute, often ± reflexed; bracteoles membranous, rounded, or rarely (P. dennisii) each prolonged into a slender process, sometimes ciliate-margined. Staminate flowers briefly pedicellate, ± asymmetrical; sepals 3, distinct, imbricate, ± broad, triangular, keeled, the margins often coarsely toothed; petals 3, distinct or very briefly joined at the base, valvate; stamens 6, filaments slender, elongate, prominently inflexed at the apex in bud; anthers oblong-linear, medifixed, versatile, latrorse; pistillode conspicuous, elongate, conical or columnar, ± trifid. Pollen ellipsoidal asymmetric, occasionally oblate triangular; aperture a distal sulcus, less frequently a trichotomosulcus; ectexine tectate, perforate and micro-channelled or finely perforate-rugulate, aperture margin similar or slightly finer; infratectum columellate; longest axis 33–64 µm [5/8]. Pistillate flowers ± globular, sessile; sepals 3, distinct, imbricate; petals 3, distinct, broadly imbricate with short valvate triangular tips; staminodes 3, tooth-like; gynoecium ovoid, unilocular, uniovulate, stigmas 3, short, recurved, ovule laterally attached, hemianatropous. Fruit globose or subglobose, red or black at maturity, stigmatic remains eccentrically apical; perianth whorls persistent, epicarp smooth, or drying wrinkled, mesocarp fleshy with few flat fibres and numerous sclereids, easily separated from the endocarp, endocarp thin or thick, variously angled or ridged and sculptured or almost smooth and rather fragile (P. avia), usually with a prominent adaxial keel and a sharp to obtuse abaxial ridge, operculum rounded to 4-angled. Seed conforming to the endocarp shape, laterally attached with elongate, narrow hilum, raphe branches ± horizontal, loosely anastomosing, endosperm homogeneous or ruminate; embryo basal. Germination adjacent-ligular; eophyll bifid. Cytology: 2n = ca. 32.

Diagnostic Description

Small to moderate pinnate-leaved palms from Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and New Britain, distinctive in the stilt roots, the incomplete prophyll and usually highly sculptured endocarp.


Root (Seubert 1998a, 1998b) and fruit (Essig et al.1999).


Confined to undergrowth of rain forest at low to high elevations. Physokentia whitmorei is found in forest developed on ultrabasic rock, and P. dennisii has been recorded on soils over lying limestone.


Seven species in the Fiji Islands, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and New Britain.

Common Names

For common names, see Moore (1969d).

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Asia-Tropical Papuasia Bismarck Archipelago
  • Solomon Is.
  • Pacific Southwestern Pacific Fiji
  • Vanuatu


  • 1 J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008
  • 2 Pintaud, J.-C. & Baker, W.J. (2008). A revision of the palm genera (Arecaceae) of New Caledonia. Kew Bulletin 63: 61-73.
  • 3 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.