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Rhopalostylis Sapida also known as Nikau is a palm tree

Rhopalostylis Sapida also known as Nikau is a palm tree.

Overview of Rhopalostylis Sapida or Nikau

• The other common names:
– Nikau grove
– Paraparaumu
• This is endemic to New Zealand.
• This is the only palm native to New Zealand.
• N?kau is a Maori word.
• This is located in Eastern Polynesian languages of the tropical Pacific.
• It implies the fronds or the midrib of the coconut palm.
• It occurs on Chatham Island and Pitt Island.
• The Nikau palm can grow up to a height of 15 m.
• It has a stout green trunk.
• The palm bears grey-green leaf scars.
• The trunk is covered by a smooth bulging crown shaft.
• This can grow up to 1m long.
• The fronds can grow up to 3m length.
• There are overlapping leaflets which can grow up to 1 m long.
• The inflorescence is multi-branched.
• It grows from 200 to 400 mm long.
• The flowers are tightly packed.
• These flowers are unisexual.
• They are lilac to pink in color.
• Male flowers rise in pairs.
• They have 6 stamens.
• The female flowers are solitary.
• The fruit is elliptic or oblong in shape.
• They measure about 10 by 7 mm.
• It is red when ripe.
• The flowers are produced between November and April.
• The fruits ripen from February to November.
• It takes a year to fully ripen.
• Kereru, the native wood pigeon prefers this food.
• The bases of the inner leaves were used for food and eaten raw or cooked.
• Even the young flower clusters were eaten as food.
• The food was covered in leaves before cooking.

These leaves were also used for:
– Cooking
– Baskets
– Floor mats
– Waterproof thatch for buildings.

Scientific Classification of Rhopalostylis Sapida or Nikau

• Kingdom : Plantae
• (unranked) : Angiosperms
• (unranked) : Monocots
• (unranked) : Commelinids
• Order : Arecales
• Family : Arecaceae
• Sub-tribe : Rhopalostylidinae
• Genus : Rhopalostylis
• Species : R. sapida
• Binomial name : Rhopalostylis sapida

Growing/Caring conditions

• The nikau palm cannot be transplanted easily.
• This is because it has a tap root.
• The roots get easily damaged and die.
• The palm requires moist shade to semi-shade when they are small.
• Nikau can be planted in the full sun.
• The leaves are upright and dry on the tips.
• Nikau tolerates light frosts only.
• A compost and mulch is essential when planting this palm.
• This way nikau retains moisture.
• It protects from wind when the palm is small.
• Nikau is propagated by seed.
• Plant the nikau in groups.
• This palm is also an excellent pot plant.
• It is quite hardy.
• This palm is slow-growing.
• This plant grows from seed.
• Initially it has to be scrubbed for outer coat removal.
• Then soak it for few days.
• Place these seeds in a sealed bag and in semi shade.
• Then the seeds will germinate readily.

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