Flame Thrower Palm
Flame Thrower Palm - Chambeyronia macrocarpa
Chambeyronia macrocarpa is a species of palm tree commonly known as the red leaf palm. It is sometimes called the flamethrower palm. The species is endemic to New Caledonia.
Chambeyronia macrocarpa is a solitary palm up to about 20 m tall (but usually less than 15 m tall in cultivation), with a spectacular, feather-like bright red new leaf, which stays red for up to 10
days. The leaflets are also very wide, thick, and shiny, so even without a new leaf it is very distinctive, with very fat and thick pinnate leaves,
3-3,5 m long.
The Chambeyronia macrocarpa (Brongn.) Vieill. ex Becc. (1920) is a monoecious species with single, erect, stem, tall up to about
15 m with a diameter of 16-20 cm, enlarged at the base, smooth, of glossy green colour, at times with yellow striations, in the youngest part, on which stand out the rings trace of the junction of the fallen leaves.
Regularly pinnate, 2-4 m long, leaves, curved, of intense glossy green colour, often of a showy red, orange or bronze colour, during the first days of the opening, with at the foliar base wrapping totally the stem for a height of 1,2 m, thus forming a sort of an elegant capital, of green colour, at times covered by tiny whitish scales.
Petiole internally grooved, roundish externally, with small brownish scales. Oblong pinnules with pointed apex, 0,8-1,3 m long and 5-10 cm broad in the median part, coriaceous, waxy, with prominent marginal and central nervations.
The inflorescences generate under the leaves on a short peduncle, are ramified, erect (hanging when in fruit), up to about 1 m long, with flowers placed in the typical triad (a female flower between two male ones), but in the apical part where only male flowers are present. The inflorescence has the phenomenon of the proterandry, the male flowers ripe before the female ones; this avoids the self-fecundation, favouring the crossed one.
The fruits are from globose to ellipsoid, 4-5,5 cm long and 2,5-4,5 cm of diameter, of red colour when ripe, containing only one globose seed, of 2,5-3,5 cm of length and 2-3 cm of diameter. It reproduces by seed which germinates in 3-4 months at the temperature of 22-24 °C.
Chambeyronia macrocarpa comes from New Caledonia. The luscious island of New Caledonia is east of Australia and north of New Zealand. On this island you will find extraordinary primitive plants including the Flamethrower which dates back to the Mesozoic Era, when dinosaurs roamed the planet.
C. macrocarpa is endemic to the mid-elevations of the New Caledonian rain forest from 2,000-3,000 ft/610-900m. On ultramafic substrate vulcano-sedimentary (shale).
The genus was honoured by the botanist Eugène Veillard (1819-1896) to the French naval officer Charles Marie Chambeyron (1827-1891), leader of the expedition in New Caledonia.
The name of the species is the combination of the Greek terms “makrüs” = big and “karpüs” = fruit, with obvious reference.
The Flame Thrower Palm is also known as the blushing Palm, Watermelon Palm, Red Feather Palm, and Red Leaf Palm.
The Flame Thrower Palm is considered cold hardy. They can resist temperatures down to 25 degrees F.
There are several varieties of this palm which have different crown shaft.
Chambeyronia macrocarpa is the national tree of New Caledonia. It becomes obvious why, when one is on approach to that country's airport. This gorgeous tall emergent species can be seen poking its head above the forest, and becomes especially visible while sporting its trademark new leaf.