Family : Arecaceae
Text © Pietro Puccio
English translation by Mario Beltramini
The species is native to Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore where it grows in the underwood of the humid forests at low altitudes.
The name of the genus is the combination of the Greek substantives “ρόπαλον” (rhopalon) = club, bat and “βλαστός” (blastos) = embryo, with reference to its shape; the specific name is the Latin adjective “singaporensis” = of Singapore, with obvious reference.
Common names: kerinting palm, Malaysian walking stick palm, Singapore walking-stick palm (English); keriting, rinting (Malaysia).
The Rhopaloblaste singaporensis (Becc.) Hook.f. (1883) is an unarmed monoecious cespitous species with few erect stems, up to 3-5 m tall and of 2-4 cm of diameter, of brown grey colour on which are visible the rings trace of the junction of the fallen leaves.
The leaves, on a 50-60 cm long petiole covered by tiny brown scales, are pinnate, 1-1,8 m long, with the foliar base, of pale green colour and densely covered by tiny brown scales, that wraps wholly the stem for a height of 25-40 cm; the foliar bases persist dry for long even after the fall of the leaf, overlapping one over the others and covering a long stretch of the terminal part of the stem. The leaflets, regularly arranged along the rachis in number of 40-50 per side, are linear-lanceolate, thinned and bifid at the apex, long in the median part 30-45 cm and 1-1,5 cm broad, of glossy intense green colour above, paler below, with tiny brown-blackish scales along the central vein above and greyish “ramenta” (elongated tiny scales with the margins irregularly toothed) below. The inflorescences, on short peduncle and enclosed during the initial phase of growth in a deciduous bract covered by brown tomentum, are ramified, 20-40 cm long, with unisexual flowers of greenish colour arranged in groups of three (one female flower between two male), but in the terminal part of the rachillae where are present only male flowers in pair or solitary. Ellipsoid fruits, 1-1,5 cm long and of 0,8 cm of diameter, orange to red when ripe, containing only one ellipsoid seed about 0,6 cm long and of 0,4 cm of diameter.
It reproduces by seed, previously cleaned from the pulp and kept in lukewarm water for 2 days, in aerated and draining loam maintained humid at the temperature of 26-28 °C, with germination times of 3-4 months.
Species with elegant foliage, paticularly suitable for small gardens due to the reduced size, cultivable exclusively in the tropical and humid subtropical climate zones in position sheltered from the winds and partially shady in the juvenile phase, even in full sun when adult. It requires particularly draining soils and hugh humidity, ambiental as well as in the soil. Of great effect cultivated in pot for the decoration of luminous inner spaces, with lowest winter temperatures not under the 18 °C, utilizing organic loam with addition of siliceous sand or agriperlite per a 30%. The waterings must be regular during the vegetative period in way to maintain the loam constantly humid, but without stagnations that may cause rooting rottenness, spaced in winter, but without ever allowing it to dry up completely. In presence of too dry air recourse can be done to nebulizations with water at ambient temperature and not calcareous, to avoid unaesthetic spots on the leaves, or to place the pot on a wide saucer filled with expanded clay or rubble with a layer of water not in direct contact with the bottom of the pot, in way to create a humid microenvironment around the plant. With the cleaned and varnished stems are made walking sticks, hence the most use common name.
Synonyms: Ptychosperma singaporensis Becc. (1877); Drymophloeus singaporensis (Becc.) Hook.f. (1884); Ptychoraphis singaporensis (Becc.) Becc. (1885); Ptychoraphis longiflora Ridl. (1904).
The photographic file of Giuseppe Mazza