Millionaire’s salad (Deckenia nobilis)

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Millionaire's salad in habitat
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Millionaire’s salad fact file

Millionaire’s salad description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderArecales
FamilyPalmae
GenusDeckenia (1)

Millionaire's salad (Deckenia nobilis) is a tall palm which, when young, is armed with numerous yellow spines. These are lost when the tree reaches maturity, but scars remain where these spines were once borne (4). The enormous leaves measure up to five metres long and are composed of numerous pale green, smooth leaflets branching off a central stem (2) (3). Just below the crown of leaves, paddle-shaped, spiny, greenish-yellow spathes develop (5), which are held at right angles to the trunk (2). These split and drop off to reveal long, drooping, yellow branches of flowers (2) (5). The fruits of millionaire’s salad are small, around one centimetre long, egg-shaped and purple (2).

Also known as
cabbage palm, chou palmiste, millionaires salad, palmiste.
Size
Height: up to 40 m (2)
Trunk diameter: 25-26 cm (3)
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Millionaire’s salad biology

The spiny spathes that enclose the inflorescences are a distinguising character of this plant. They develop at the base of the leaves which encircle the trunk, and when the leaf falls from the tree, this frees the spathe so it moves away from the trunk and sits at right angles to the tree. The spathe then splits, drops off, and the drooping inflorescences unfurl (4) (5). The fallen spathes on the ground under the palm are said to resemble hedgehogs (4).

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Millionaire’s salad range

Found only in the Seychelles, where it occurs on the islands of Mahé, Silhouette, Praslin, La Digue, Curieuse and Felicité (2).

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Millionaire’s salad habitat

Millionaire’s salad grows in lowland forest, up to 600 metres above sea level (1). It is able to grow in exposed areas, such as on cliff faces, provided there is sufficiently deep soil (4).

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Millionaire’s salad status

Millionaire's salad is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Millionaire’s salad threats

In the past, this palm was exploited for the growing part at its very tip, which was harvested to be used in cooking, to make ‘millionaire’s salad’ (1) (4). The removal of this part of the palm, the ‘palm heart’ (1), kills the plant (4). However, today it is thought that it is the common coconut plant (Cocos nucifera) that is exploited more often for this use (4), and exploitation of millionaire’s salad is prohibited by law (1).

Millionaire’s salad is currently not highly threatened, but its restricted range may make it more vulnerable to threats such as invasive species, human and infrastructure development and tourism growth (1).

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Millionaire’s salad conservation

Millionaire’s salad is legally protected in the Seychelles and is found in protected areas throughout its range, such as the Morne Seychellois and Praslin National Parks and the Curieuse Marine National Park (1).

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Find out more

To learn more about conservation in the Seychelles visit:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Inflorescences
The shoots of a plant which bear a group or cluster of flowers.
Spathes
Leaf-like organs enclosing the flowering part of the plant.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2012)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Robertson, S.A. (1989) Flowering Plants of Seychelles. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  3. Baker, J.G. (1970) Flora of Mauritius and the Seychelles. L. Reeve and Co., London.
  4. Wise, R. (1998) A Fragile Eden. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
  5. Savage, A.J.P. and Ashton, P.S. (1983) The population structure of the double coconut and some other Seychelles palms. Biotropica, 15(1): 15 - 25.
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Image credit

Millionaire's salad in habitat  
Millionaire's salad in habitat

© Dr. Justin Gerlach

Dr. Justin Gerlach
Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles
Seychelles
gerlachs@btinternet.com
http://islandbiodiversity.com

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