Vascular – Native
Trees & Shrubs - Monocotyledons
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.
2n = 32
Current conservation status
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley.
2012 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Palm to 15m tall with a ringed trunk and 3m long erect leaves inhabiting lowland forest south to Okarito and Banks Peninsula and the Chatham Islands. Leaves with multiple narrow leaflets to 1m long closely-spaced along central stem. Flowers pinkish, in multiple spikes at the top of trunk. Fruit red.
Endemic. North Island, South Island from Marlborough Sounds and Nelson south to Okarito in the west and Banks Peninsula in the east. Also on Chatham and Pitt Islands. However Chatham Islands plants have adistinct juvenile form, larger fruits, and thicker indumentum on the fronds.
Primarily a species of coastal to lowland forest in the warmer parts of New Zealand.
Trunk up to 15 m, stout, covered in grey-green leaf scars, otherwise green. Crownshaft 0.6(-1) m long, dark green, smooth, bulging. Fronds up to 3 m long; leaflets to 1 m, closely set (sometimes over lapping), ascending. Spathes c.300 x 150 mm., between pink and yellow, caducous. Inflorescence shortly stalked, with many branches, 200-400 mm long. Flowers sessile, unisexual, tightly packed, lilac to pink. Males in pairs, caducous, stamens 6. Females solitary, with minute staminodes, ovary 1-locular, stigmas terminal, recurved, persistent. Fruit c.10 x 7 mm, elliptic-oblong, flesh red.
Rhopalostylis baueri (Seem.) H.Wendl. et Drude, which differs mainly by its globose to oval fruits, and from most populations of R. sapida, by the broader leaflets. Both species of Rhopalostylis are very similar and research is needed.
November - April
February - November
Easy from seed. Fruit should be soaked for a few days in water and then lightly scrubbed to clear the flesh, then place in sealed plastic bags in half shade until seed begins to germinate. Plant germinating seed in deep, narrow pots. Avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible. An excellent pot plant, and provided the tap root is left intact it can be easily transplanted. Quite hardy. Very variable in the wild, so could benefit from critical horticultural selection.
rhopalostylis: Club style
Where To Buy
Commonly sold by most retail plant nurseries.
The palm on the Chatham Islands is probably distinct from R. sapida but further research is required.
Fact sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange for NZPCN (1 June 2013)
References and further reading
Esler, A.E. 1969. Leaf fall and flowering of nikau. Wellington Botanical Society Bulletin, 36: 19-22
Greenwood, R.M. 1969. Notes on growth of young nikau plants. Wellington Botanical Society Bulletin, 36: 22-23
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Rhopalostylis sapida Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/rhopalostylis-sapida/ (Date website was queried)