Rhopalostylis baueri


Rhopalostylis: club style

Common Name(s)

Kermadec nikau (N.Z. only)

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - RR, SO
2009 - TO


Rhopalostylis baueri (Seem.) H.Wendl. et Drude



Brief Description

Palm to 15m tall with a ringed trunk and 3m long leaves inhabiting Raoul Island in the Kermadec Islands. Leaves with multiple long narrow leaflets (to 1m in length) closely-spaced along the central stem. Flowers pinkish, in multiple spikes at the top of trunk. Fruit red.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Monocotyledonous Trees and Shrubs


Areca sapida Endl., Kentia sapida (Endl.) Mart., Kentia baueri Seem., Eora baueri (H.Wendl. et Drude) O.F.Cook., Rhopalostylis cheesemanii Beccari, R. baueri var. cheesemanii (Beccari) Sykes


Indigenous. In New Zealand known only from Raoul Island (Kermadec Islands group). Also on Norfolk Island, its type locality.


Abundant in both dry and wet forest types on Raoul Island where it sometimes is the main canopy dominant.


Trunk up to 15 m tall, and 0.35 m wide, green to dark green fading to grey with age between rather closely spaced leaf-scars; crown-shaft to 0.80 m long, smooth and green, slightly bulging. Leaf to 3 m long, usually dark green; leaflets closely set, ascending sharply, up to 1 m long and 40 mm wide. Spathes c. 380 × 150 mm, between pink and yellow, smooth, falling as first flowers open. Ultimate branches of inflorescence to 300 mm long, c.15 mm diameter with buds on, at first pale cream-coloured; flower-buds tightly packed. Sepals short, the longest one in male rarely = petals; petals white or pink. Fruit c. 13 × 12 mm, subglobose to globose brick-red. Seed Seed almost spherical, tightly invested in pale fawn endocarp which is marked by several vascular strands curving ± obliquely from hilum and only a few running longitudinally; hilum a broad band from the slightly flattened chalazal area to a pronounced papilla beside the micropyle

Similar Taxa

Rhopalostylis sapida is a very variable species. It is best distinguished from R. baueri by its elliptic-oblong, smaller (mostly up to 7 mm diameter) fruit. While many New Zealand populations of R. sapida have narrower leaflets, some, especially those in the Hauraki Gulf and on the Chatham Islands have equally broad leaflets and fruit dimensions comparable to R. baueri. Rhopalostylis sapida is absent from the indigenous range of R. baueri.


December - January

Flower Colours

Red / Pink,White


December - January

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed. Seed should be soaked in water to remove flesh and then sown over a damp peat/coarse sand mix and left in a shaded spot (ideally in a mister) and ignored. Fruit may take up to a year to germinate. Frost tender. Plants resent root disturbance so they should be planted in a sheltered semi-shaded site and then left alone.


In the New Zealand part of its range it is not threatened. However, it is only known from Raoul Island, and so qualifies as Range Restricted. On Norfolk, while common it occupies a very reduced range in the centre of that island. There the species is threatened to some extent by rats which eat the fruit and germinating seedlings.

Chromosome No.

2n = 32

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Occasionally sold by retail plant nurseries and most specialist native plant nurseries, usually under the names R. cheesemanii and R. baueri var. cheesemanii. Most material sold here as R. baueri is from Norfolk Island.


Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970).

References and further reading

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington.

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014