Family : Arecaceae
Text © Pietro Puccio
English translation by Mario Beltramini
The Cyrtostachys renda Blume (1838) is native to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, where it grows in the swampy areas close to the coasts or along the waterways.
The name of the genus comes from the Greek "kyrtos" = arched, and "stachys" = panicle, with reference to the arched inflorescence. The name of the species is the local name fo the palm.
It is commonly known as: "lipstick palm", "maharajah palm", "sealing wax palm", "pinang rajah", "Sumatra wax palm" (English); "palmier rouge" (French); "palmera de lacre", "palmera roja" (Spanish); "Siegellackpalme", "Rotstielpalme" (German); "palmeira-laca", "palmeira-lacre (Portuguese).
Cespitose plant with thin stems, unarmed, tall up to 12 metres and diameter 5-7 cm, of green colour in the younger part, greyish in the older one, and on which are visible the rings, traces of the junction of the fallen-off leaves. The leaves are pinnate, erect, long up to 2 metres, with leaflets of dark green colour on the upper side, and green grey on the lower one, rather rigid and regularly inserted in the rachis to form a V. The foliar sheath which wraps the stem for about 60 cm of height and the petiole are of vivid red colour.
The ramified inflorescence, comes out from under the leaves, and carries flowers united in groups of three in the characteristic triad (two male, one female). Ellipsoidal fruits of about 10 mm of length and 5 mm of diameter, of black colour. It reproduces by division and by seed, which keeps the germinative power for short time; the times of germination are in the order of 2 months.
It is widely cultivated for its remarkable ornamental characteristics exclusively in the humid tropical zones, being extremely sensitive both to low temperatures and to the lack of humidity.
Synonyms: Bentinckia renda (Blume) Mart. (1853); Areca erythropoda Miq. (1861); Pinanga purpurea Miq. (1861); Ptychosperma coccinea Teijsm. & Binn. (1866); Areca erythrocarpa H.Wendl. (1878); Cyrtostachys lakka Becc. (1885); Pinanga rubricaulis Linden (1885).
The photographic file of Giuseppe Mazza