Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Christmas palm, Manila palm, Adonidia palm, Dwarf royal palm.

+ Tree Species

Veitchia merrillii

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Christmas palm is native to Philippines but has been cultivated throughout the world's tropics for many centuries. They are fairly drought tolerant once established and are moderately tolerant of salt spray on their foliage. This species occurs in rainforests, open forests, steep limestone hills and areas along the coast, such as beaches near forests. It is found at altitudes of 10 - 100 m in the Philippines. A tropical climate and soil that isn't soggy is really all this palm requires. This species grows best in moist, but well-drained soils. In Kampala, this palm can be found at Impala avenue among other places.

+ Description

Christmas palm is an evergreen, single-stemmed palm tree that grows about 6 meters tall. The straight, cylindrical, unbranched stem is around 15 - 21cm in diameter, topped by a compact crown of about a dozen arched, pinnate leaves about 1.5 meters' long

BARK: solitary, grey, texture is smooth and finely ringed and is swollen at the base.

LEAVES: large, pinnately compound leaves are arched upwards (1.5 - 2 m long), but the leaflets droop downwards (0.6 m long, 5 cm wide). The leaf bases form a smooth, light green crown-shaft that occurs above the trunk, but below the leaf blades.

FLOWERS: grey/green, small, on 2 feet long inflorescences from under the crown shaft, arranged in groups of three (two male flowers and one female flower) in long, branched inflorescences known as panicles (0.6 m long). Male flowers have a puffball-like appearance due to their numerous stamens.

FRUIT: ½ an inch in diameter, oval, green when unripe, bright red when ripe.

+ Uses

Edible: fleshy seed is used as a substitute for betel nut (Areca catechu) as a masticatory.

Agroforestry: tree is prized by beekeepers for its high quality nectar.

The brown seed is used generally in combination with other seeds to make ornamental necklaces.

An ornamental palm.

+ Propagation


+ Management

Needs little pruning to develop a strong structure.

+ Remarks

The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a masticatory and source of beads. It is often grown as an ornamental in tropical gardens, and as a pot plant in cooler areas. The palm is very susceptible to lethal yellowing disease. Its other common name of Christmas Palm is a result of the attractive fruit which are ripening to a brilliant red at the end of December.

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