New Caledonian palms get some new names

Michael McCorquindale

Photos: Weta2000nz

With the recent release of the second edition of Genera Palmarum, and A revision of the palm genera (Arecaceae) of New Caledonia By Jean-Christophe Pintaud & William J. Baker in Kew Bulletin Vol. 63: 61-73 (2008), many of us will now have to learn some new names for the palms of New Caledonia.
Since the release of The palms of New Caledonia (Hodel, Pintaud) in 1998, New Caledonia has had 37 species of palm, spanning 16 genera. The International Palm Society website claims "This book will serve as the authoritative reference on the subject for years to come." Well a decade on and things have changed. There are now 38 species spanning 10 genera on the Island.

With this new morphological, anatomical, ecological and molecular revision we see the end of Alloschmidia, Campecarpus, Moratia, Lavoixia and Veillonia, all of which were monotypic genera that now find themselves spread through the remaining 10 genera of the Island. Both species of Brongniartikentia also move into synonym, becoming Clinosperma along with Lavoixia, raising the total species of Clinosperma from 1 to 4.
Basselinia having 11 species in 2005 is now revised upward to 13.
Chambeyronia remains with just 2 species.
Cyphophoenix increases from 2 species to 4.

These are likely to still change further in the future as techniques improve. So many palms from New Caledonia have visual similarities that help blur the lines of science, these must be looked past when dealing with palms from a monophyletic group, and phylogeny is now the accepted way of grouping palms. To the non scientist it can all be a little confusing. Why for example would Veillonia alba be put in with Cyphophoenix and not Burretiokentia, when seeds, crownshafts and overall look of the palms have much more in common? When comparing Cyphophoenix elegans with Cyphophoenix (Veillonia) alba, the following differences become apparent;

C. alba has dense glaucous wax on the crownshaft, C. elegans has none.
C. alba has brown fruit, C. elegans has red.

C. alba seed endocarp is thick and jagged like a stone, C.elegans is smooth and capsule shaped. In fact all layers of the fruit are quite different.

C. alba and C.fulcita seem quite different to C. elegans and C. nucele which share very similar traits.
Don't be surprised if more rearrangement of the Subtribe Basseliniinae soon takes place.

Basseliniinae is now home to Basselinia, Burretiokentia, Cyphophoenix and Cyphosperma of New Caledonia. These were all formally of the Subtribe IguanurinaeLepidorrhachis, of Lord Howe Island, is now also included in Basseliniinae. Clinosperma and Cyphokentia have been moved from Iguanurinae to Clinospermatinae.
Archontophoenicinae which once contained Actinokentia, Archontophoenix, Chambeyronia, Hedyscepe, Kentiopsis and Rhopalostylis no longer contains its Lord Howe and New Zealand representatives. Hedyscepe and Rhopalostylis now belong to Rhopalostylidinae.

The new accepted species names are:

Actinokentia divaricata

Actinokentia huerlimannii

Basselinia deplanchei

Basselinia eriostachys

Basselinia favieri

Basselinia glabrata  originally called then changed in 1978 to Alloscmidia glabrata now Basselinia once more

Basselinia gracilis

Basselinia humboldtiana

Basselinia iterata

Basselinia pancheri

Basselinia porphyrea

Basselinia sordida

Basselinia tomentosa

Basselinia velutina

Basselinia vestita

Burretiokentia dumasii

Burretiokentia grandiflora

Burretiokentia hapala

Burretiokentia koghiensis

Burretiokentia vieillardii

Chambeyronia lepidota

Chambeyronia macrocarpa

Clinosperma bracteale      Clinosperma bractealis

Clinosperma lanuginosa changed from Brongniartikentia lanuginosa

Clinosperma macrocarpa changed from Lavoixia macrocarpa

Clinosperma vaginata changed from Brongniartikentia vaginata, Cyphokentia vaginata

Cyphokentia macrostachya

Cyphokentia cerifera changed from Moratia cerifera

Cyphophoenix alba changed from Veillonia alba

Cyphophoenix elegans

Cyphophoenix fulcita changed back from Campecarpus fulcitus

Cyphophoenix nucele

Cyphosperma balansae

Kentiopsis oliviformis

Kentiopsis magnifica

Kentiopsis piersoniorum

Kentiopsis pyriformis

Pritchardiopsis jeanneneyi

Underlined species are on the MAF list and therefore allowed in New Zealand.

NOTE: The MAF Biosecurity index is so out of date and full of historical errors and spelling mistakes that a full summary of all species allowed in NZ is almost impossible to show here. Chambeyronia macrocarpa for example can enter New Zealand under at least 4 different names.


Dransfield, J., Uhl, N. W., Asmussen, C. B., Baker, W.J., Harley, M. M. & Lewis, C. E. (2008). Genera Palmarum, The evolution and classification of palms Second edition. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, International Palm Society and L. H.Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University

Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K.

Pintaud,J-C.,Baker,W.J., (2008) A revision of the palm genera (Arecaceae) of New Caledonia. Kew Bulletin Vol. 63: 61-73

Top Photo: Burretiokentia hapala inflorescence in cultivation in New Caledonia

Bottom Photo: Cyphophoenix alba (formerly Veillonia alba) in habitat on Mt. Paniť, New Caledonia


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