Podococcus barteri (PROTA)
|Geographic coverage Africa|
|Geographic coverage World|
Podococcus barteri G.Mann & H.Wendl.
- Protologue: Trans. Linn. Soc. London 24(3): 426 (1864).
- Family: Arecaceae (Palmae)
Origin and geographic distribution
Podococcus barteri is distributed from Nigeria to DR Congo and Cabinda (Angola), never more than 200 km inland.
In Gabon the leaves are used for covering temporary huts when leaves of more desirable species are not available. The leaf rachis is used for weaving fish-traps and the whole rachis is used as a fishing rod. In Equatorial Guinea the leaf base is used as a chew stick to clean the teeth, and in Cameroon the beaten stem is similarly used. The stems are used for making furniture. The fruit pulp and the fresh seeds are eaten.
Small, monoecious, slender, unarmed palm; stem up to 2(–3) m tall, up to 1 cm in diameter, covered in reddish brown fibrous leaf bases, eventually bare and with annular leaf scars, with basal axillary stolons; prop roots present. Leaves few, 50–120 cm long, pinnately compound with up to 7 leaflets on each side of the rachis; sheath up to c. 15 cm long, tubular, becoming split opposite the petiole, densely covered in red-brown woolly tomentum, margins fibrous; petiole slender, up to 50 cm long, narrowly channelled above, rounded below; rachis like petiole but longer; leaflets alternate to subopposite, rhomboid, single-fold, up to 30 cm × 12 cm, lower ones smaller, basal half with entire margin, upper half with toothed margin, membranous, glabrous above, sparsely hairy below. Inflorescence solitary, between the leaves, spike-like, c. 75 cm long, initially erect, pendulous when fruiting, protandrous, many-flowered; peduncle slender, up to 50 cm long; prophyll tubular, 2-keeled, dark brown, disintegrating into long fibres; peduncular bracts 2–3, tubular, disintegrating as prophyll; rachis about as long as peduncle or longer, bearing spirally arranged triads of 2 distal male flowers and 1 proximate female flower, or paired or solitary male flowers distally. Flowers enclosed in pits, unisexual, 3-merous, bracteoles membranous, sepals distinct, petals valvate, about twice as long as sepals, adnate to receptacle; male flowers with 6 stamens in 2 whorls and short pistillode; female flowers with connate petals, staminodes 6, ovary superior and (1–)3-celled, stigmas 3. Fruit a drupe, 1–3-lobed, ellipsoidal or with ellipsoidal lobes, 2–3.5 cm × 0.5–1.5 cm, often slightly curved, orange-red to brown, fragrant when ripe, 1–3-seeded; exocarp smooth, leathery; mesocarp gelatinous with inner layer of fibres; endocarp crustaceous. Seed narrowly ellipsoidal, c. 19 mm × 4 mm.
Podococcus comprises 2 species. Podococcus acaulis Hua, a small palm up to 3(–4) m tall distributed in Gabon and Congo, was previously considered conspecific with Podococcus barteri. It can be distinguished from Podococcus barteri by the absence of a stem, its clustering habit, its leaves densely hairy below, its erect infructescence and its purplish brown fruit.
Podococcus barteri is extremely slow growing and lives long. In Cameroon the total lifecycle was estimated at about 70 years. Adult palms produce one leaf per year, and each leaf remains about 5 year in the crown. Natural vegetative reproduction takes place through stolons growing horizontally above, on or under the soil-surface, with the apex eventually growing upward and roots being formed at the bend. In Cameroon it has been estimated that seedlings start vegetative reproduction after 15 years and flowering after 37 years, while vegetatively produced palms start vegetative reproduction after 4 years and flowering after 26 years. Flowering is protandrous, with the male flowers being shed several weeks before female flowering. In Cameroon the period from initial emergence of the spathe to seed maturation is about 17 months. Flowering and fruiting is year-round.
Podococcus barteri occurs from sea-level up to 700 m altitude in areas with an average annual rainfall of 1500–2400 mm. It is found in the undergrowth of evergreen forest, and in relatively dry locations in swamp forest and on river banks. It persists in logged forest but is absent from young secondary vegetation.
The 1000-seed weight is c. 600 g.
Podococcus barteri is fairly widespread, but highly localised with many disjunctions and it is extremely slow growing. Although it is presently not included in the IUCN Red list of threatened species, it may become classified as vulnerable in the future.
Podococcus barteri is only locally used as a source of thatch, fishing material, chew sticks and edible fruits. There is no reason to expect that its importance will increase in the future. In view of the slow growth rate, care should be taken in the exploitation of this palm.
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- Walker, A., 1931. L’emoumou (Podococcus barteri): palmier intéressant du Gabon. Revue de Botanique Appliquée & d’Agriculture Tropicale 11: 933–934.
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- M. Brink, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Correct citation of this article
Brink, M., 2011. Podococcus barteri G.Mann & H.Wendl. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp>.
Accessed 12 November 2020.
- See the Prota4U database.