Family : Arecaceae
Text © Pietro Puccio
English translation by Mario Beltramini
The Dictyosperma album (Bory) H. Wendl. & Drude ex Scheff. (1876) is native to the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues), where it is almost extinct.
The name of the genus comes from the combination of the Greek words “dictyon” = net and “sperma” = semen, with reference to the interlacement of the relieved lines present on the seed; the Latine name of the species, from “album” = white, referring to the white tomentum at times present on the foliar sheath.
The names under which it is commonly known are: “hurricane palm”, “princess palm” (English); “palmiste blanc” (French); “Hurrikanpalme” (German); “palmeira huracan” (Spanish); “palmeira-princesa” (Portuguese).
Palm with single trunk of dark grey or brown colour, about 20 cm of diameter and tall up to about 12 metres, often vertically cracked, with enlarged base. The leaves are pinnate, long about 3 metres and elegantly arched, of green colour with reddish shades in the young plants.
The pointed leaflets are about 70 cm long in the median part and disposed regularly on the rachis. The foliar base, which wraps completely the trunk for a height of 1 metre forming a sort of an elegant capitol, is covered by a tomentum which can be white, greyish or brown.
Monoecious plant, it produces, under the leaves, ramified inflorescences long about 50 cm carrying unisexual flowers united in groups of three (a female flower amidst two male ones). The fruits are ovoid, 18 mm long, of dark purple colour.
It reproduces by seed which germinates in about 2 months. Plant of remarkable ornamental value, it prefers sunny locations, regular watering and manure. Cultivable in the tropical and subtropical areas, its cultivation can be tried in a warm-temperate climate, as it resists to temperatures close to the 0°C only for short periods.
Synonyms : Areca alba Bory (1804); Linoma alba (Bory) O.F.Cook, (1917).
The photographic file of Giuseppe Mazza