Selected Trees and Shrubs
Veitchia merrillii; Syn: Adonidia merrillii,
Common name: Manila Palm, Christmas Palm, Pacific Palm
Plant Family: Belongs to the Arecaceae or Palm family, which includes the Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera), the Royal Palm(Roystonea oleracea), and the Talipot or Century Palm (Corypha umbraculifera), the last producing the largest and most prolific inflorescence in the plant kingdom, a panicle of about 24 million flowers.
Description: The Manila Palm is a small, showy palm, with beautiful cascading leaves and large bunches of striking red fruit at Christmas time; tree is compact, fast-growing, up to 6 m tall (20 ft), resembling a dwarf Royal Palm; single slender stem, smooth, gray, swollen at base; above base stem about 15-21 cm diameter (6-8 in), topped by a short, light-green, smooth crown-shaft of leaf bases supporting a compact crown of about a dozen leaves; leaves arched and pinnate, about 1.5 m long (5 ft); leaflets about 0.6 m x 5 cm (2 ft x 2 in); flowers small, greenish white, borne in long inflorescences, 0.6 m (2 ft), emerging at joint of crown shaft and stem; fruit borne in large bunches, are ovoid, about 3.5 cm long (1.4 in), green, turning brilliant, glossy red when ripe about December, looking like ornaments on a Christmas tree, hence common name, Christmas Palm; one unusual variety, Golden Veitchia, has creamy-yellow fruit.
Natural Habitat: Tropical plant, thriving in full sunlight, on most, except waterlogged soils; propagation by seed.
Origin and Distribution: Native to the Philippines, but now distributed variously throughout the world; grown outdoors in tropics and subtropics, and in temperate climates is popular indoor ornamental.
Uses: Due to its elegant, small size, palm used as a small landscape or courtyard plant, or as a potted indoor or atrium plant; sometimes planted closely in twos or threes when the palms develop an attractively curved stem (concave inward); popular ornamental in Manila, capital city of the Philippines, hence one of its common names, Manila Palm; tree prized by beekeepers for its high quality nectar; very susceptible to lethal yellowing disease.
Arlington A. James. An Illustrated Guide to Dominica’s Botanic Gardens. Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Dominica 2007
Jack Scheper. Veitchia merrillii. Floridata.com. Tallahassee, Florida, October 2003 [www.floridata.com]
Dan Culbert. A Palm for Christmas. Okeechobee County Extension Service, University of Florida, Florida, December 2006 [okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu]
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