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Variation in Livistona Chinensis (or are these different livistona?)


Sandy Loam

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I have noticed that Livistona Chinensis seems to have a lot of genetic variation and I am wondering why. Perhaps I am confusing some Livistona Chinensis with other types of Livistona, such as Livistona Australis. The photos below will illustrate what I mean. For example, the first group of photos show the type with a slimmer trunk (often leaning but not always) with no leaf bases, whereas others seem to have a chunkier, thicker trunk full of leaf bases -- or simply very thick with the leaf bases fallen off. There also seems to be variation in how much the leaf tips droop. Some seem to have ribbon tips more than others, although I am not talking about tips that are as "ribbony" as Livistona Decora/Decipiens. There also seems to be variation in the fold in the middle of the leaf (some are slightly costapalmate whereas others do not appear to be costapalmate at all).

I will let the photos do the talking in several posts below, but can anyone explain this phenomenon? I wonder if I am simply confusing different Livistona species.

First photos now: long, skinny trunks, somewhat leaning, drooping leaf tips.... (photos all taken in Florida, USA)

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...and now more of the same type again.... (click photos to enlarge) Photos taken in Florida

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...and now some photos of the thicker trunk type (photos taken in Gainesville, Florida)

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...and now more of the thick-and-stout trunk type (all leaf bases retained too). These two photos were taken in Tallahassee, Florida (same tree). Click to enlarge.

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...and now more photos of what seems to be the slim-trunk type with leaf tips that tend to be more drooping and longer (and slightly more costapalmate too). These photos were taken in Gainesville, Florida.

I'm done. Can anyone explain this? (Please see my question in my original post at the top of the thread)

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As far as the different sized trunks and leaf bases attached, look at our native sabals varying degree of both. Here I see fat and skinny trunks in bone-dry sandhills and swamps, so soils and water don't seem to contribute to trunk thickness. As with the Sabals, I bet some boots (leaf bases) are cleaned off by landscapers but they probably shed naturally as well. Sorry I couldn't answer any of your question!

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They all look like L. chinensis to me. Don't most palms appear or actually become thinner the taller they get? Don't quite see the variation in leaf that your seeing...but would imagine that there would be some variation. Washingtonia has a lot of variation .....especially droopy vs non droopy tips.

David Simms zone 9a on Highway 30a

200 steps from the Gulf in NW Florida

30 ft. elevation and sandy soil

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Maybe it's a north vs. south thing. The photos in posts 1 and 2 were taken farther south in Florida. AliceHunter2000, I agree about Washingtonia Robusta, but it seems that in the south of Florida (where it stays warm all winter) most Washintonia Robusta have drooping leaf tips and no boots (leaf bases) on the trunk, whereas in the north of Florida where it gets cold in winter the leaf tips often stay rigid-looking and the boots stay on the trunk eternally. They also seem to grow taller in the south of Florida than in the north. Supposedly these changes occur with age, but I have noticed a north vs. south pattern too.

Does anyone know --- Is it possible that any of the palms above are actually Livistona Australis instead? Has there been some accidental hybridization in the Livistona Chinensis sold on the market?

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I also think that these Livistonas are all "pure" L. chinensis. The variations may be individual or depending on the locations and conditions like sun and wind. I post here two photos of the Ryûkyûan type of L. chinensis growing at 24°20’N, showing that the shape of the leaves is depending on the position of the tree: One L. stands in Ishigaki City near the coast, exposed to wind and sun, the other one stands on Iriomote, protected by other trees against wind and sun. (Both islands Ishigaki and Iriomote are part of their natural habitat.)

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My photos at flickr: flickr.com/photos/palmeir/albums

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I agree with all previous replies. To my untrained eyes all plants look the same. I have come across old chinensis with very skiny trunks and robust specimens as well in the metropolitan garden of Athens. BUT the plant depicted in post #4 is imo not a chinensis! A close relative to chinensis maybe, but not a chinensis. It is not the rigid segments that lead me to this conclusion but rather the VERY LONG petioles. Just an intuition :innocent:, you'd better keep an eye on it and watch its fruits, when it eventually comes to fruition. Fruit shape, size and color may help in the future to a definite answer.

Edited by Phoenikakias
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I agree - they are all L. chinensis. Even post #4 is consistent with juvenile L. chinensis grown under dense canopy.

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