Seychelles stilt palm
- Scientific name: Verschaffeltia splendida
- Family: Arecaceae (palm)
Erect palm up to 25m tall, usually much shorter. Trunk smooth but scarred where leaves have fallen; spiny when young; rings of dark spines pointing downwards at top of trunk on older trees; numerous aerial roots at the base. Leaves up to 3m long with bio-lobed apex. Leaf stalks (petioles) spiny on young trees only. Flower stalks (inflorescences) up to 2m long, drooping beneath leaves of crown. Fruits spherical, brownish-green becoming red when mature.
- The spikes on the trunks of the younger palm protect it from hungry animals.
- The stilt root system is thought to have evolved to stabilise the palm on sleep slopes.
Where it grows
Only found on the Seychelles, this canopy or understorey tree grows in moist forests, on steep hillsides and ledges, from near sea level up to 850m altitude.
The timber from this palm is used as a building material. The trunk is split to make rain gutters.
This species is endemic to (ie only found on) the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. It is rated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as 'vulnerable' and 'conservation dependent' because of the gradual reduction of its natural habitats from the invasion of alien plants such as true cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) and Malabar plum (Syzygium jambos).
- Crown: cluster of leaves and branches at the top of trunk.
- Understorey: growing underneath the canopy layer.