Friday, 20 February 2009

Arecastrum romanzoffianum var. australe

Illustration of Cocos capitata. Diplothemium campestre. Tab. 78 (Butia capitata (Mart.) Becc., )
Historia naturalis palmarum : opus tripartium / Carol. Frid. Phil. de Martius. Volume 2 of 3

Syagrus romanzoffiana (Cham.) Glassman is the accepted binomial for this old name. But the variety australe was cultivated as a distinct plant by nineteenth century horticulturists.

What were considered its distinguishing characteristics?

Arecastrum romanzoffianum var. australe (Mart.) Becc. was published in:
Agricoltura Coloniale 10: 459, t. 3, f. 2-6. 1916. (Agric. Colon.)

The basionym was :
Cocos australis Mart. Voyage dans l'Amérique Méridionale 1844.

Chittenden, RHS Dictionary, 1951, p.168, gives the following description:
var. australe, pinnae very numerous, glaucous, stem about 30ft., slow growing.

That glaucous suggests that we are dealing with Butia capitata. This is not the glaucous underside to the leaves that is often seen in Syagrus romazoffianum and given in the description by Chittenden of the type species.

Mac Perry Landscaping in Florida writes:
Cocos australis (Butia capitata) Previously misnamed, the pindo palm is a favorite as far north as South Carolina ...

Gordon Courtright Tropicals also gives Cocos australis as a synonym for Butia capitata and gives the common name as Hardy Blue Cocos or Jelly Palm.

In Australia Ferell M. Bridwell writes that Butia capitata was once sold as Australian Coco Palm, "since it was once classified botanically as Cocos australis".

Cocos australis is figured by Nicholson in his Dictionary. Fig 485 clearly shows Butia capitata as a young plant. The accompanying written description reveals itself as the source for Chittenden's text (as was frequently the case).

C. australis (Southern) l. pinnate, with very numerous linear glaucous pinnae. Stem erect, columnar, in old specimens 20ft. to 30ft. high. Buenos Ayres and Paraguay. A slow, growing, decidedly ornamental palm.

30 feet for a Butia? Perhaps this refers to stature in habitat.

Refering to the illustration at the head of this post:

Cocos capitata Mart., Hist. Nat. Palm. 2: 114 (1826) is a synonym for Butia capitata (Mart.) Becc., Agric. Colon. 10: 504 (1916). Homotypic synonyms are Calappa capitata (Mart.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 982 (1891), Butia capitata (Mart.) Becc., Agric. Colon. 10: 504 (1916) and Syagrus capitata (Mart.) Glassman, Fieldiana, Bot. 32: 143 (1970).

Older Synonyms for this variety:

Cocos flexuosa, Mart. --
Syagrus flexuosa, Becc., 466. C. flexuosa, Hort., non Mart.
Arecastrum Romanzoffianum, var. australe,

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