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Rhopalostylis Sapida in Habitat, New Zealand

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sipalms

Just had the chance to explore some of the mainland Nikau Habitat on the West Coast of the South Island, and collect some seed.

Never spent much time looking into this palm in habitat but it's incredible the variation depending on location, above/below canopy, and distance to the coast. Underneath the canopy they spread very wide, almost like Coconut or bangalows... there was many with green fronds below horizontal. After getting above canopy they turn into the typical shuttlecock shape. 

Also amazing to see hundreds of seedlings like grass around some really old ones in the forest. Enjoy..

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sipalms

And more...

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sipalms

The road was washed out in many places due to Cyclone Gita recently passing through a few weeks back.

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sipalms

Lastly... the obligatory sunset pics...

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Darold Petty

Thanks very much for these wonderful photos !

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Hammer

Wow.  Fantastic photos!  Thank you.

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Hilo Jason

Awesome!  Thanks for taking the time to post these! 

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Xerarch

:drool:Nice habitat shots! Oh man these photos just make me angry that these things can take cold but can’t take heat!:rant:

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DoomsDave

Wonderful shots.

Tough grow here, alas, so enjoy the pictures that much more.

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Rafael

Wondefull visuals! Thanks for sharing!

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Palm Tree Jim

Incredible habitat pictures....thanks for sharing!

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gilles06

I love rhopies especialy in natural landscape.

The beaches are so nice!

Than you

 

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Missi
3 hours ago, Xerarch said:

:drool:Nice habitat shots! Oh man these photos just make me angry that these things can take cold but can’t take heat!:rant:

Ditto :rant:

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hbernstein

OMG. Breathtaking!

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Josue Diaz

Wow! Amazing shots. Thanks for sharing. 

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Palmensammler

I love these palms :wub:

Unfortunately it's very difficult to get fresh seeds.

Eckhard

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Firepalm

Unreal! One of my favorite palms.  The silhouettes are amazing.  Thanks for sharing these!

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sipalms

They are a pretty special palm given their tropical appearance in a not-so-tropical latitude, and the fact they don't tolerate tropical heat yet are rather cold sensitive.

Once you're under the canopy surrounded by thousands of them, along with ponga (tree ferns) you could just as easily be in tropical Southeast Asia or Central American rainforest.

Will be interesting to compare the Chatham Island and Banks Peninsula varieties side-by-side in my garden this year - I'm going to leave one of each exposed to the elements and watch as they react to temps which could reach as low as -5 or 23F.

Edited by sipalms
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Jim in Los Altos

Love'em! Great nature shots too! They're an easy grow up here in the Bay Area and I've used them in several client's yards over the years and have them trunking in my own yard. 

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sipalms

Bumping this feed....

I've been travelling around the eastern part of the North Island and came across a lot of Nikau Palms in habitat. Enjoy.

The first were south of Tauranga, between Tauranga and Gisborne, in the Waioeka Gorge. This is a several hour drive through native rainforest with the river running through the middle.

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sipalms

Lots of groves right down to the riverbanks along this route. The river looks dull coloured but was actually crystal clear, must have been due to the lighting.

 

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sipalms

Then get to Gisborne, which has the highest average summer maximums of anywhere in NZ and seems very much like Southern California.

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sipalms

Then, on the way to Napier the next day, stopped by at Morere Springs, an amazing sample of east coast rainforest, of which was mostly rhopalostylis / nikau groves. 

It amazes me how much different the Nikau palm looks below the canopy, than above. Below the canopy the fronds hang well below horizontal whereas above the canopy and exposed to wind, the nikau forms a traditional shuttlecock shape.

You can see why the Maoris, who originally came from the tropical pacific, named this tree 'Nikau' which means 'frond of the coconut'. Here's some info on the translation;

Hawaiian: Nī'au, "coconut leaf midrib";
Tahitian: Nī'au, "frond of coconut palm; also midribs of the fronds";
Tuamotuan: Nikāu, "leaflets of the coconut frond, as distinct from the whole frond (rau niu)"; 
Tupuaki (Austral Islands): Niau, "Coconut leaf; sometimes used as a general term for the coconut palm"; 
New Zealand Māori: Nīkau (Rhopalostylis sapida, "Nīkau palm ", Arecaceae; since the 19th Century, nīkau has also been adopted as the general word for "palm tree", for example in Biblical translations).

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sipalms

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sipalms

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sipalms

The seedlings were everywhere. Initially being a bit of a palm fan, and being in habitat, I felt bad about stepping on them off the track. But after a while I realised that they were like grass and given that only one palm actually developed in a 2 metre radius, it wouldn't have been the end of the world.....

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These were growing near the carpark. But they look more like seedlings from a phoenix caneriensis nearby than from the many nikaus in the area, someone may be able to confirm???

 

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sipalms

Then finally we get to Napier. This place is definitely the place most like Los Angeles I have ever been to outside of Los Angeles..... even the surrounding hillside and mountains, with citrus everywhere, is a lot like California.

I believe these washingtonias were probably planted in the 1930s or 40s, after the Napier Earthquake. Someone will be able to confirm this. They may not even be that old. But are a similar height to those around Hollywood. 

The weather was pretty cloudy and wet, during a winter storm here.

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sipalms

This was supposed to be the silloutte shot of the sunset....... but didn't turn out that way1554963823_20190531_135826(Large).thumb.jpg.641f0d527d2781c5898b0daf8e5afdf5.jpg

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sipalms

Some more miscellaneous pics

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Tyrone

Thanks for these pics. I never get sick of Nikau palms in habitat or anywhere for that matter.

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OC2Texaspalmlvr

What beautiful pics of stunning palms thanks for the visual road trip =)

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redant

Awesome pictures, the washies and queens are downright ugly compared to the natives.

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Darold Petty

Sipalms,  Thank you so much for posting the habitat photos !  Your suspicions are correct; the seedling with the cut off distal leaflets is indeed a Phoenix.  This is easy to recognize because the leaflets are induplicate, that is folded into a 'V' shape at the point of attachment to the rachis.  This is an unusual detail for palms, shared only by a few genera other than Phoenix.  Most palms are opposite, reduplicate.   An easy memory trick is that "Induplicate holds IN the rain".    Furthermore the seedling to the right in the same photo might be a Washingtonia.

Thanks again for these great photos ! :greenthumb: 

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cbmnz

From my travels and observations, here is a rough range of where R.Sapida occur naturally in NZ. Anywhere in the yellow zone, where you find surviving rainforest- even small fragments, R. Sapida/Nikau dominate the under story.

I live quite close to the yellow/red boundary in North Island, on a forested peak about 25km South of here called Maugatautari, there are plenty in the understory of the bush, up to ~650m elevation. Yet another 50km or so South in the Pureora Forest, I've seen none, even in lowest/wettest parts of the bush there. 

 

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Edited by cbmnz
Change 750 to 650 more accuratw
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Tyrone
49 minutes ago, cbmnz said:

From my travels and observations, here is a rough range of where R.Sapida occur naturally in NZ. Anywhere in the yellow zone, where you find surviving rainforest- even small fragments, R. Sapida/Nikau dominate the under story.

I live quite close to the yellow/red boundary in North Island, on a forested peak about 25km South of here called Maugatautari, there are plenty in the understory of the bush, up to ~650m elevation. Yet another 50km or so South in the Pureora Forest, I've seen none, even in lowest/wettest parts of the bush there. 

 

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That’s very interesting info. Do you think in some of the forested areas that should be good for Nikau they might have been all eaten for palm hearts back in the day. 

Also in the South Island there’s that little pocket on the coast near Christchurch. Is that a remnant that would have joined up with the bigger area of Nikaus in the past and habitat destruction has separated them now. What do you think?

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cbmnz

As sipalm's photos show, Nikau are very good seeders. So I doubt any populations got wiped out by people killing some adults to eat the palm heart, there would always be a carpet of seedlings ready to replace them.

As you go into the centre of North Island, it gets higher, drier and colder. So Nikau's natural range has to end somewhere. Factor in too that it and other 'warm' species have probably had to retrench to the mildest areas only during ice ages and then slowly spread again as conditions warmed. Given enough time they will spread until they reach a geographical barrier that is too great.

The population in 'palm tree gully' near Christchurch is in one shaded creek gully right out on the end of Bank's peninsular. Some have speculated that this has been established by pre-european Maori or even very early Europeans planting seedlings. I tend to think however that is a natural remnant population, similar to that on the Chathams.  The extreme proximity to the ocean enabled it to survive the last few cold periods.

I'm unsure whether I got it right to draw that spur of range down to Kaikoura. There definitely are Nikau in the Malbough Sounds rainforest. I don't know if the wide Wairau valley is the end of them though, of if any occupy the shady creek gullies along the Kaikoura coast.

 

 

Edited by cbmnz

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Tyrone
1 hour ago, cbmnz said:

 

I'm unsure whether I got it right to draw that spur of range down to Kaikoura. There definitely are Nikau in the Malbough Sounds rainforest. I don't know if the wide Wairau valley is the end of them though, of if any occupy the shady creek gullies along the Kaikoura coast.

 

 

Only one way to find out. 

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Dave-Vero

I was lucky to get to visit Paparoa National Park several years ago.  It would be impressive without Nikau.  

The North Island's permissive climates are kind of amazing.  I was dazzled to see Douglas firs growing next to Rio de Janeiro bromeliads and poinsettias in Kerikeri, a likable tourist town if there ever was one.  
 

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