Syn.: Iriartea nobilis (H. Wendl. ex Seem.) N. E. Br.
Family: Arecaceae Bercht. et J. Presl
Deckenia nobilis
Distribution: Monotypic genus endemic to inner granitic islands of Seychelles archipelago. It is known from islands of Mahé, Praslin, Silhouette, La Digue, Curieuse and Félicité. This genus is closely related to other palms from Réunion and Mauritius (genera Acanthophoenix and Tectiphiala), another related genus is Oncosperma from southeastern Asia (Sri Lanka to Phillipines).
Ecology: Deckenia nobilis prefers drier and well-drained places from sea level up to 600 m in very hot climate. In the past, it was probably very common and dominant in some vegetation types, actually scattered particularly in inaccessible places. It can easily grow in secondary stands.
Deckenia nobilis
Description: Monoecious palm up to 40 m; trunk is simple, very slender, with leaf scars and yellow spines when young. Leaves form a distinctive crown at the top of trunk, they are up to 5 m long, regularly divided to 60 or more pairs of linear pinnae. Leaf bases form smooth leathery sheats that enclose the upper part of trunk. Inflorescence is a branched panicle growing from the base of leaf-sheats; there are 2 big yellowish spiny sheats at right angle of the trunk that enclose inflorescence before the flowering. Flowers unisexual, 3-merous, with 6 yellowish perianth segments, the male flowers have 6–9 stamens and distinct pistillodium, the female flowers are very small, they content 6 very short staminodes, 1 celled ovary and 3 stigmas. Fruit is rather small ovoid or elipsoid drupe up to 1 cm long, green when unripe, becomes blackish with age.
Possible confusion: Palm Nephrosperma van-houtteanum is similar in habit, however is unrelated. This species differs in blackish spines in base of trunks and petioles of young plants, flowering palms are easy to distinguish by the type of inflorescence (in Nephrosperma is not closed by sheats).
Deckenia nobilisDeckenia nobilis
Deckenia nobilis
Usage: Succulent bases of leaves and growing palm hearts were consumed as „millionaire’s salad“ – this practice kills whole plant (similar species of Acanthophoenix in Réunion and Mauritius face a high risk of extinction).
Threat and protection: This species is legally protected.
Deckenia nobilis
Deckenia nobilis
These images were taken in Seychelles, Mahé and Praslin islands (by Vít Grulich and Alena Vydrová, 1.–9. 2. 2011).