Family : Arecaceae
Text © Pietro Puccio
English translation by Mario Beltramini
The species is native to Vanuatu, where is particularly diffused in the humid forests of the island of Nguna, on volcanic soils, from the sea level up to about 500 m of altitude.
The genus is honoured to the family Veitch, owner of the famous Londin nursery, founded by John Veitch (1725-183), active from the XVIII to the XX century, who introduced in Europe a huge numbaer of exotic species; the Latin specific name is the diminutive of Areca.
Common names: Montgomery palm (English).
The Veitchia arecina Becc. (1921) is an unarmed monoecious species with erect stem, solitary, slightly enlarged and with adventitious roots at the base, smooth, of whitish colour, 15-28 m tall and of 15-25 cm of diameter, on which are prominent the rings trace of the junction of the fallen leaves. The leaves, about 11 in the adult plants, on short petiole, are pinnate, slightly arcuate, horizontal to ascending, up to 3 m long.
Leaflets, about 50 per side, regularly arranged along the rachis on the same level, horizontal or slightly drooping, from 20 cm to 1 m long and 2 to 5 cm broad, lanceolate with apex truncated obliquely and irregularly toothed, of dark green colour, with the central vein and the marginal ones prominent and provided in the lower page of “ramenta” (tiny brown elongated scales with the margins irregularly toothed).
The foliar base wraps completely the stem for a length of 0,8-1,4 m forming a sort of tubular capital, slightly swollen at the base, of pale green colour and thickly covered by tiny white scales, but towards the apex and on the petiole where they are brown-blackish.
The inflorescences, on an about 15 cm long peduncle, covered by a whitish tomentum, generate under the leaves (infrafoliar), are 0,8-1 m long, ramified, with greenish white unisexual flowers arranged in triads (one female flower between two male), except in the terminal part where are present only solitary male flowers. Oblong male flowers, about 1,5 cm long and of 0,7 cm of diameter, with 80-130 stamina, globose female flowers, about 0,6 cm long and of 0,5 cm of diameter, with 3 stigmata.
Ovoidal fruits initially green, then yellow and finally bright red when ripe, 3-5,5 cm long and of 2,5 cm of diameter, containing one single ovoidal seed, ip to 2,5 cm long and of 1,8 cm of diameter.
Similar as appearance to the Veitchia winin H.E.Moore (1957), H.E.Moore (1957), that differs for the shorter male flowers, 1 cm, the lower number of stamina, 40-60, and the smaller size of the fruits, 1,5-1,8 cm long and of about 1 cm of diameter. It reproduces by seed, previously kept in water for two days, in aerated and draining loam kept humid at the temperature of 24-26 °C, with germination times of 1-3 months. Palm standing among the most ornamental in absolute, of great effect utilized in groups of more individuals, cultivable in the tropical and humid subtropical climate zones, its cultivation may be tried in the milder warm temperate ones, where temperatures around the 0 °C are very short lasting exceptions.
Of particularly fast growth, in the best conditions of cultivation, requires full sun, but in the very first years of life when it needs a partial shade, and is not particular about the soil, from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline, provided draining and maintained constantly humid, as it does not stand dry periods. Moreover, it resists strong winds and the marine aerosols, hence may be employed close to the sea.
Synonyms: Veitchia hookeriana Becc. (1921); Veitchia macdanielsii H.E.Moore (1957); Veitchia montgomeryana H.E.Moore (1957).
The photographic file of Giuseppe Mazza