Cyrtostachys Blume
  • Bull. Sci. Phys. Nat. Néerl. 1: 66 (1838) 

Notes: Distribution: Pen. Thailand to Papuasia

General Description

Solitary or clustered, moderate to tall, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious palms. Stems erect, bare, conspicuously ringed with leaf scars, often bearing a mass of adventitious roots at the base, where clustering, the clump rather close, or more rarely diffusely spreading by stolons. Leaves pinnate, neatly abscising; sheaths tubular, forming a well-defined crownshaft, brilliantly orange-red coloured in 1 species (Cyrtostachys renda), glabrous or scaly; petiole short to long, adaxially channelled or flattened, abaxially rounded or angled, glabrous or scaly; rachis like the petiole but angled adaxially; leaflets always single-fold, acute or acuminate, regularly arranged, often stiff, sometimes ascending, sometimes slightly paler beneath, ± glabrous adaxially, abaxially often with ramenta along the midvein and sometimes minutely dotted between the veins, transverse veinlets conspicuous or obscure. Inflorescence apparently protandrous, infrafoliar, highly branched to 3 orders, rather diffuse and spreading; peduncle usually very short, ± oval in cross-section; prophyll enclosing the inflorescence until leaf fall, borne just above the winged base of the peduncle, tubular, 2-keeled, ±lanceolate, with winged margins, splitting, soon caducous; peduncular bract borne just above the prophyll, completely enclosing the inflorescence, splitting longitudinally like the prophyll, caducous; subsequent bracts very inconspicuous, incomplete, low, triangular; rachis longer than the peduncle; first-order branches robust, spreading, with a short bare portion at the base, then branching to produce diverging rachillae or second-order branches; second-order branches, when not rachillae, also with short bare portion and then branching to produce rachillae; rachillae elongate, cylindrical, rather robust, glabrous, papillose, minutely roughened or indumentose, often brightly coloured, expanding long before anthesis; rachilla bracts low, triangular, spirally arranged, rather crowded, each partially enclosing a shallow pit bearing a triad of flowers, triads borne throughout the length of the rachillae; floral bracteoles membranous, very small and inconspicuous. Staminate flowers with 3, distinct, imbricate, broad, strongly keeled sepals with minutely toothed margins (?always); petals about twice as long as sepals, united at the very base to ca. 1/3 their length, globose or ellipsoidal, apically attached, the hilum orbicular, endosperm distally with 3 triangular, valvate tips; stamens 9–15, the filaments awl-homogeneous; embryo basal. Germination adjacent-ligular; eophyll bifid shaped, connate basally, apically inflexed in bud, anthers apically and basally with narrow lobes. Cytology: 2n = 32. slightly bilobed, dorsifixed, latrorse; pistillode almost as long as filaments, narrow, elongate, trifid. Pollen ellipsoidal, less frequently, oblate triangular, symmetric or slightly asymmetric; aperture a distal sulcus or trichotomosulcus; ectexine tectate, perforate rugulate, in some species with verrucate or gemmate supratectal processes, aperture margin similar; infratectum columellate; longest axis 27–56 µm; post-meiotic tetrads tetrahedral [2/11]. Pistillate flowers about the same size as or slightly larger than the staminate; sepals 3, distinct, rounded, imbricate, the margins minutely toothed (?always); petals 3, slightly larger than the sepals, distinct, imbricate proximally, asymmetrical, rounded with short triangular valvate tips; staminodal ring membranous, very low, bearing short truncate or irregularly triangular teeth; gynoecium unilocular, ellipsoidal with 3 short recurved stigmas, ovule pendulous from the apex of the locule, form unknown. Fruit 1-seeded, broad to narrow-ellipsoidal, usually black, the perianth whorls persistent, stigmatic remains apical; epicarp smooth, contrasting with the rachilla, mesocarp thin, oily, with abundant longitudinal fibre bundles, endocarp thin, closely adhering to the seed.

Diagnostic Description

Solitary or clustered, moderate to very robust pinnate-leaved palms of West Malesia and New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, with conspicuous crownshafts, inflorescences with short peduncles and flowers generally borne in pits; fruits have apical stigmatic remains.


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


Cyrtostachys renda is exclusive to peat swamp forest, usually near the coast, where it can be a conspicuous component of the vegetation; other species may be found in lowland rain forest and at altitudes of up to about 500 m.


Seven species: Cyrtostachys renda in the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo, and very widely cultivated; all other species in New Guinea and Melanesia.


This species is a commercially important ornamental. Locally, its trunk is also used as a source of laths for supporting Nypa leaf thatch. The larger New Guinea species may supply timber.

Common Names

Sealing wax palm, pinang rajah (Cyrtostachys renda).

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Asia-Tropical Indo-China Thailand
  • Malesia Borneo
  • Malaya
  • Sumatera
  • Papuasia Bismarck Archipelago
  • New Guinea
  • Solomon Is.


  • 1 Heatubun, C.D., Baker, W.J., Mogea, J.P., Harley, M.M., Tjitrosoedirdjo, S.S. & Dransfield, J. (2009). A monograph of Cyrtostachys (Arecaceae). Kew Bulletin 64: 67-94.
  • 2 J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008
  • 3 Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 4 Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. Continental Publishing, Deurne.

 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
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