Family : Arecaceae
Text © Pietro Puccio
English translation by Mario Beltramini
The Roscheria melanochaetes (H.Wendl.) H.Wendl. ex Balf.f. (1877) is endemic plant of the Seychelles Islands (particularly, Mahé and Silhouette islands), where it grows in the under wood of the pluvial forests over the 300 metres of altitude.
The genus is honoured to the German explorer Albrecht Röscher (1836-1860); the name of the species is the combination of the Greek word "mélas, melanos" = black and "chàite" = bristle, with reference to the thorns on the stem and the foliar sheath.
It is locally known as "latanier hauban", "latanier haubaum", "latannyen oban".
Palm with solitary stem, thorny when young and with aerial roots at the base, it can reach a height of 6-8 m with a diameter of about 8 cm; also the basal sheath shows blackish thorns, especially when young. The pinnate leaves, strongly curved, of a pale green colour, are 2-2,5 m long with a bifid whole lamina when young, irregularly parted in segments of variable width and a length up to about 40 cm, with a sharp tip, or truncated and indented, when adult. The very ramified inflorescence, which develops between the leaves, is about 1,5 metres long and carries flowers of both sexes. The fruits are globose, about 6 mm long, of red colour when ripe. The seeds germinate in 2-3 months.
Very demanding plant for what temperature and ambient humidity are concerned, it is hardly cultivable outside the zones with a particularly wet tropical climate.
Synonyms: Verschaffeltia melanochaetes H.Wendl. (1871); Phoenicophorium viridifolium H.Wendl. (1878).
The photographic file of Giuseppe Mazza