Native and endemic to the Seychelles, the Verscheffeltia splendida grows up to 80 feet high in moist tropical forests, on steep hillsides and ledges, from near sea level up to 2,500 feet in altitude.
The only species in its genus, the Verschaffeltia splendida represents a unique evolutionary lineage of the Seychelles and has a very restricted range as it occurs only on three islands: Mahé, Silhouette and Praslin.
The distinguishing feature of this palm is the “stilt-like” roots supporting the slender stem (see photos below)/
Verschaffeltia splendida is the premier stilt root palm growing in the tropics, and its unique root system is thought to have evolved to stabilize the palm on sleep slopes.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, “the invasion of alien plant species and habitat loss due to human settlements are potential threats to this species, but it does not seem to be strongly affected by these threats. It is listed as Near Threatened, 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)”.
The timber from this palm was historically used for the production of water gutters and the walls of huts.
The species occurs in the Morne Seychellois National Park and in the Praslin National Park. It is legally protected by the Breadfruit and other Trees (protection) Act.
There are six Verschaffeltia splendida thriving in the Merwin Palm Collection.
Want to “virtually explore” the Merwin Palm Collection? Search through our archive of Palm Facts of the Week, featuring palms hand-planted by W.S Merwin. To search through the Online Merwin Palm Database, visit this link.
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