Friday 17 May
Palm (Roscheria melanochaetes)
Palm fact file
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This solitary palm tree is the smallest of the Seychelles palms (2). The slender stem may grow up to 8 metres high and is ringed with black spines near to the growing shoot (3). Young leaves are an arresting coral-red colour; they reach up to 2.5 metres long and are feather-like at maturity with leaflets on either side of the midrib (2). Both male and female flowers are found on the same tree; they are small and yellow, borne on solitary, metre-long inflorescences (2). Rounded fruits that may be up to 6 cm long develop; these ripen to a deep red colour at maturity (2).
- Height: up to 8 m (2)
The species name of melanochaetes refers to the black spines covering the trunk of this palm; the spines are believed to have evolved as a defence against giant tortoises, the only natural large herbivores in the islands. R. melanochaetes normally grows at high altitudes, where tortoises rarely ventured and consequently this species has fewer spines than any other endemic palm (except for the giant coco-de-mer, Lodoicea maldivica) (4).Top
Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
This small palm species is under threat from habitat destruction in the form of infrastructure development, it is also at risk from the introduction of invasive species (1).Top
Much of the range of this species is within the Morne Seychellois National Park on the island of Mahé; the Silhouette population is the subject of conservation work by the Silhouette Conservation Project of the Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles (4) (5).Top
Authenticated (6/5/03) by Justin Gerlach. Scientific Co-ordinator, The Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- The reproductive shoots of the plant, which bear flowers.
- The individual 'leaf-like' parts of a compound leaf.
- IUCN Red List (February, 2003)
- Wise, R. (1998) A Fragile Eden. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
- Robertson, S.A. (1989) Flowering Plants of the Seychelles. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
- Gerlach, J. (2002) Pers. comm.
- Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles (May, 2003)
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