Livistona humilis

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Figure 1. L. humilis in habitat, Darwin.


Common Names:

Sand Palm


Northern Teritory.


Tall open lowland forest. Stocker considers the occurrence of closely related species in the monsoon forest and open Eucalypt forest (L. benthamii - L. humilis), supports the hypothesis that the monsoon forest communities are very old communities which were probably well established in Northern Australia before the development of eucalypt dominated open forest communities. This would indicate that L. humilis has evolved and adapted with the open eucalypt forest though its distribution is still restricted to the higher rainfall areas. It is nevertheless the most widespread species present in the Northern Territory.

Figure 2. L. humilis


A small but abundant Livistona with dull green, deeply dividend palmate leaves. The slender trunk is covered in old leaf bases, offering some protection from the frequent grass fires. This species will hybridise with L. inermis where their ranges overlap. They are quite spectacular in the savannah woodland around Darwin when their yellow flowers rise well above the crown.


The black oval fruit should be cleaned and planted in trays. Germination is slow, taking up to 18 months. Limited experience suggests post-harvest ripening may be necessary. Seedlings resent disturbance and are very susceptible to fungal attack. Weekly applications of fungicide seem essential, plus excellent air circulation. Fairly slow growing, they are probably best planted out when palmate leaves develop. Planting the seed directly into their permanent position is a successful alternative. Extreme care is needed when transplanting large specimens, like most Coryphoid palms they dislike shifting.


Livistona humilis is so common around Darwin little interest is shown in cultivating it in home gardens. Frequently left after clearing, many can be seen on roadside verges and vacant lots. Captive specimens respond only moderately to irrigation and fertilizer.

Contributed by:

Alan White (from Palms & Cycads No. 20 July-Sept 1988)
Australian Botanic Gardens (Figure 2).

External Links:

Kew, PalmWeb, JSTOR, Trebrown

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