Sabinaria magnifica

Family: Arecaceae    Palm Tree

Common Name: Girasol Palm

Cold Hardiness Zone: 10b     View the UK and US zone maps

Sabinaria magnifica Information

Solitary, unarmed palm. Stem 1-6 m tall, 9-12 cm diam., light brown, smooth, with inconspicuous leaf scars. Leaves 20-35, induplicately palmate; sheath + petiole ca. 319 cm long, sheath basally cleft for ca. 43 cm, brown-woolly internally; petiole biconvex, rhomboid in transverse section, the margins sharp toward base, green, covered below with a deciduous scaly and light brown tomentum, 2 cm wide at the middle; adaxial hastula tubular, truncate, ca. 1 cm long; abaxial hastula forming a low rim; blade flat, rigid, sometimes inequilateral at base, 1.4-1.6 m diam., divided almost to the base into two large halves, these divided to ca. 1/10 their length into single fold segments, each with 36-42 single-fold segments, these free at the apex for 5-9 cm; basal segments 34-50 cm long, 1.4-1.7 cm wide, bifid at the apex for ca. 5 mm; distal segments 104 cm long, 4.2 cm wide, the free portion with a shoulder on each side just above the adaxial split, bifid at the apex for ca. 5 mm, the two tips rounded and slightly unequal, glossy above, with numerous cross-veins of two sizes, silvery-whitish below. Inflorescences and infructescences interfoliar, basally erect, the distal half arching laterally, with branches of first order or sometimes the basal branches with a few rachillae; peduncle at least 30 cm long, 1.5 cm wide at apex, subcylindrical; prophyll deeply buried among the leaves, at least 31 cm long, 3.5 cm wide, slightly two-keeled, acute and abaxially split at the fibrous apex, yellowish when fresh, covered, especially toward base, with a light brown woolly tomentum; peduncular bracts at least five, ca. 26-27 cm long, 6 cm wide, chartaceous, persistent, acute at apex, covered with light brown, woolly, more or less persistent tomentum; rachis 46-62 cm long, subcylindrical; rachillae 32-40, each raquilla subtended by a large, persistent, chartaceous, cream-coloured bract with indumentum similar to that of the peduncular bracts, progressively smaller toward the apex, fraying into fibres in fruit; basal bracts 20-22 cm long, ca. 7 cm wide, middle bracts 13-16 cm long, 5-6 cm wide, apical bracts 4-6 cm long, 0.5-1.5 cm wide; rachillae of the proximal one half with both staminate and pistillate flowers, those of the distal half bearing only staminate flowers; basal rachillae 18-20 cm long, the proximal 1/3 thick, 5-7 mm wide, adaxially flattened and without flowers, abaxially with pistillate flowers separated from each other 1-2 mm, mostly with no anthers and only a few of them with 1-2 anthers, the distal 2/3 of proximal rachillae almost cylindrical, ca. 3 mm diam., with staminate flowers spirally arranged all around the rachilla, separated from each other 1-3 mm; middle rachillae 12-14 cm long, the proximal 2 cm similar to the corresponding area of the basal rachillae, otherwise as described for the staminate portion; apical rachillae 3-4 cm long, bearing only staminate flowers and appearing like the staminate portion of basal rachillae. Flowers whitish when fresh, borne on a short pedicel and subtended by a small, narrow triangular bract. Staminate flowers 4-5 mm long, 3-3.5 mm wide, oblong; sepals three, 1.3-2 mm long, connate into a 0.8-1 mm long cupule with three ovate long-acuminate lobes ca. 1 mm wide, fused with the corolla at a single place on the margin; corolla tubular, oblong, 2.5-3.2 mm long, the petals connate for ca. ¾ their length, with three rounded to triangular lobes ca. 1 mm wide, sometimes two of the petals completely free to base; stamens 20-23, exserted ca. 1 mm beyond the corolla; filaments connate by their fleshy bases into several irregular groups of 1-6, these in turn connate farther below with each other and basally adnate with the corolla, filiform at the apex, the free portion ca. 1 mm long, tapering to a filamentous apex ca. 0.5 mm long; anthers ca. 1 mm long, 0.2 mm wide, oblong, basally bifid, shortly bifid to rounded apically; pistillode absent. Pistillate flowers 7-11 mm long, ca. 2.5 mm wide, mostly similar to the staminate ones; sepals three, 1.3-2 mm long, connate in a 0.8-1 mm cupule with three ovate long acuminate lobes, fused with the corolla at a single place on the margin; corolla tubular, oblong, 2.5-3.5 mm long, the petals connate for ca. ¾ their length, with three rounded to triangular lobes, sometimes two of the petals completely free to base; staminodes 14-19, only slightly exserted from the corolla, filaments basally connate into a fleshy tube adnate to the corolla base, the free portion fleshy and subulate, ca. 1.5 mm long, sometimes with an apical 0.5 mm filamentous apex; anthers oblong, ca. 1 mm long, similar to those of the staminate flowers; gynoecium unicarpellate, 4-5 mm long, ovoid at the base, tapering to a slender, flattened, curved style and a papillose stigma ca. 2 mm long; ovule hemianatropous, laterally attached, bearing a large oblique aril. Fruits closely packed along the basal portion of the proximal, thickened rachilla stumps, these up to 7 cm long, 7-8 mm thick, individual fruits obovoid to turbinate or subglobose, green when immature, yellowish green when nearly mature, finally turning black, 3.6-4.4 cm long., 3-3.6 cm diam., with inconspicuous, eccentrically apical stigmatic residue; epicarp minutely tuberculate with sparse perforations, smooth with the naked eye; seeds oblong-ovoid, 2.4-2.7 cm long, 2.2-2.3 cm wide, with ellipsoid hilum and subbasal ascending raphe branches; endosperm homogeneous; embryo basal. Seedling with lanceolate eophyll, whitish below, ca. 30 cm long, 4-5 cm wide.

General Information:
This is a new genus of the Cryosophileae tribe of palms, discovered and published in August 2013 (GLORIA GALEANO & RODRIGO BERNAL), found on the Serranía del Darién, the mountain range that forms the border between Colombia and Panama. The palm produces flowers with a single carpel, as well as the numerous stamens, this is reminiscent of Itaya, from which it differs in the unisexual flowers, the pistillate ones restricted to the base of the proximal rachillae, and tightly hidden by the large persistent rachis bracts, whereas in Itaya the rachis bracts are deciduous, and all flowers, which are hermaphroditic, are exposed. In Sabinaria fruits are restricted to the base of the lowermost rachillae, and are thus hidden among the litter-trapping leaf bases. Schippia also posseses biseriate perianth and unicarpellate gynoecium, and which has hermaphroditic proximal flowers and staminate distal ones, and six stamens. Leaf structure of Sabinaria is also unique among the Cryosophileae, as they have only one deep medial abaxial split, and lack any of the deep secondary splits that are common to the tribe. Two unusual characters are found in the perianth of Sabinaria. First, the calyx is fused to the corolla at one place on its margin, so that calyx and corolla appear like a single tissue arranged in two cycles. Secondly, is the occasional lack of fusion between two of the petals, which results in an open tube. The perianth of Sabinaria might represent an intermediate condition between the uniseriate and the biseriate perianth types found within the tribe.


Native to, Colombia, Panama

Known only from a small area at the base of the Serranía del Darién, in the Department of Chocó, northwestern Colombia, between 100 and 250 m elevation 8°34'59.4" N, 77°23'09.9" W. The area lay less than one kilometre away from the Colombia-Panama border, and the species most probably occurs also in that country. The area is covered by premontane moist forest, with an average annual rainfall of ca. 3000 mm.

Location: Colombia (8.590724°N, -77.381645°E)

Map may not represent the complete natural distribution. (Markers display observation data).

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