It is found only in Australia with the best-known occurrence found in Palm Valley in Finke Gorge National Park, Northern Territory. There are more than 3,000 cabbage palms in Palm Valley, many of which are several hundred years old and form a lush oasis among the rugged rocks and gorges. This region is now largely dry Central Ranges xeric scrubland.
The palms are not relics from a previous age when Central Australia was much wetter, as previously thought.
New genetic analyses find that Livistona mariae arrived only 15,000 years ago. The red cabbage palm's closest relative, the Mataranka palm Livistonia rigida, grows in two areas 800 to 1000 kilometers to the north on either side of the Gulf of Carpentaria—too far away, it would seem, for these species to be anything but distant relations. However, a 2010 study led by Australian biologists, including Bowman, and colleagues at Kyoto University in Japan found that L. mariae was genetically identical to L. rigida.
- Ancient Palm Not So Ancient Archived March 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Research findings back up Aboriginal legend on origin of Central Australian palm trees". ABC News. 3 April 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
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