Tectiphiala H.E.Moore
  • Gentes Herb. 11: 285 (1978) 

Notes: Distribution: Mascarenes

General Description

Moderate, solitary or clustered, spiny, pleonanthic, monoecious palm. Stem erect, bearing persistent leaf bases basally, distally free of leaf bases, ringed with leaf scars and abundant long spines with bulbous bases. Leaves pinnate, neatly abscising in mature individuals; sheaths tubular, forming a crownshaft, bearing an untidy ligule, and very densely covered in spines of varying length and abundant dark hairs; petiole rather short, adaxially with short spines, abaxially hairy; rachis bearing stiff hairs on both surfaces or on the adaxial surface alone; leaflets single-fold, very coriaceous, acute, arranged in close or distant fascicles, and fanned within the groups, adaxially glabrous, abaxially with a very dense covering of white scales, the midnerve bearing scattered ramenta, transverse veinlets obscure. Inflorescences solitary, infrafoliar, erect in bud, becoming ± pendulous, branching to 1 order, protandrous; peduncle covered in short spines at the base, above the insertion of the peduncular bract bearing a variety of short to very long spines; prophyll inserted just above the base of the peduncle, tubular, 2-keeled, completely enclosing the inflorescence in bud, splitting along the ventral midline and abscising, densely covered in stiff dark hairs; peduncular bract 1, inserted just above the prophyll, similarly hairy, abscising before anthesis; rachis scarcely evident; rachillae 3–5, congested at the apex of the peduncle, straight or flexuous, flattened and spiny at the base; rachilla bracts arranged in ca. 6 vertical rows throughout most of the rachilla length, prominent, approximate, projecting, saucer-like, rounded, each subtending a triad except at the very tip of the rachilla where subtending solitary or paired staminate flowers; bracteoles surrounding the pistillate flower unequal, one much larger than the other. Staminate flowers asymmetrical, acute, very briefly stalked, obscuring the rachilla bracts; sepals 3, often unequal, acute, briefly connate at the base; petals 3, distinct, strongly nerved when dry, angled, acute, valvate; stamens 6(–7), ± equalling the petals, filaments ± cylindrical, ± twisted and coiled, erect at the tip, anthers dorsifixed, briefly bifid at the tip, deeply bifid at the base, latrorse; pistillode usually apparent, 1/2 as long as the stamens, trifid or oblique. Pollen ellipsoidal symmetric to asymmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, coarsely perforate and/or rugulate, aperture margin similar or slightly finer; infratectum columellate; longest axis 42–66 µm [1/1]. Pistillate flowers in bud ± obscured by the staminate flowers; sepals 3, distinct, broadly imbricate, ± acute; petals 3, distinct, scarcely exceeding the sepals, broadly imbricate with briefly valvate tips; staminodes 6(–7), small, tooth-like or linear; gynoecium ovoid, unilocular, uniovulate, the stigmas not prominent, ovule large, pendulous, probably hemianatropous. Fruit asymmetrically ovoid, dark blue-black, with apical stigmatic remains; epicarp smooth, underlain by longitudinal sclereids over a layer of tannin cells, endocarp thin with round basal operculum. Seed attached by an elongate elliptical hilum, raphe branches anastomosing, endosperm homogeneous; embryo basal. Germination and eophyll not known. Cytology not studied.

Diagnostic Description

Moderate solitary very spiny pinnate-leaved palms, native to Mauritius, with conspicuous crownshafts and distinctive cup-like pits on the rachillae.


Fruit (Essig et al. 2001).


Tectiphiala grows in relict scrub in mostly wet, more-or-less acid situations at elevations of ca. 570–650 m above sea level.


A single species endemic to Mauritius.


The cabbage is edible.

Common Names

Common names not recorded.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Africa Western Indian Ocean Mauritius

Included Species


  • 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 http://www.palmweb.org. Accessed on 21/04/2013
  • A Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
  • B http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from http://e-monocot.org.
  • 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; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/ Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • D See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm 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.