Hyophorbe verschaffeltii (the palmiste marron or spindle palm) is a critically endangered species of flowering plant in the Arecaceae family. It is endemic to Rodrigues island, Mauritius, but is widely grown in cultivation.
The spindle palm is 6 metres (20 ft) tall, and have lightly recurved pinnate leaves. They are elegant looking and are prized for landscape in the tropical and semi-tropical areas of the world. They are fairly short with 8-10 leaves that are held somewhat erect. Spindle palms have a crownshaft that becomes a light gray-green as the palm ages. Horn-like flower spikes emerge from below the crownshaft on mature specimens. Their fruits darken to a black colour when ripe. It was named after Ambroise Verschaffelt, (1825-1886).
It sometimes resembles its closest relative, the "Bottle Palm" (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis). Both of these species develop swollen trunks. However the Spindle Palm's trunk starts to swell in the middle (assuming the shape of a spindle). The Bottle Palm's trunk continues to swell at the base (often resembling the shape of a bottle). The Spindle Palm's foliage also has a more yellowish colour.
Spindle palms are endemic to Rodrigues island, Mauritius. It is threatened by habitat loss. There are only fifty or so specimens left in the wild, although its survival as a species is guaranteed due to ubiquitous cultivation in tropical areas of the planet.
Spindle palms are fairly cold intolerant. They are defoliated at 32 °F (0 °C) and may be killed at anything below that. If the palm does survive a freeze, the next few emerging leaves are stunted. Spindle palms grow in the USA only in south Florida and in isolated favored microclimates in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area and the Cape Canaveral area of central Florida. They do make good container plants that can be protected from a freeze.
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- "Hyophorbe verschaffeltii". PACSOA. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
- C.Lewis, Barboza, N. (2000). ldentity of the Hyophorbe Palms at the Botanical Garden of Cienfuegos, Cuba Palms 44. p.95.
- Johnson, D. 1998. Hyophorbe verschaffeltii. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Archived June 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Downloaded on 20 July 2007.
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