Kumaon Palm
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Kumaon Palm
ative Photo: Pankaj Kumar
Common name: Kumaon Palm, Himalayan Windmill Palm, Kumaon Fan Palm
Botanical name: Trachycarpus takil    Family: Arecaceae (Palm family)

Kumaon Palm is a fan palm native to the foothills of the Himalaya in Kumaon. It grows at altitudes of 1800-2700 m. The tree grows up to 10-15 m tall, with a rough trunk covered in fiber from the old leaf bases. It is easily distinguishable from Trachycarpus fortunei by the leaf blade being irregularly divided only down to about the middle, among many other features. It was first discovered by a Major Madden, a British Army colonel with a passion for botany stationed in the Himalayas during the 1840s. Unfortunately, while Madden produced precise descriptions of both the plant and location, he made the fatal mistake of assuming it to be Trachycarpus martianus, failing to realize it was a separate species, thus losing the chance to claim its discovery. First officially described by the Italian Botanist Odoardo Beccari in 1905. The leaves all permanent, with stalks about as long as the blade. Blade is 3/4 orbicular, 1-1.2 m in diameter, irregularly divided down to about the middle into 45-50 segments, 60-85 cm in length. It is one of the cold hardiest palms to produce a tall trunk, tolerating temperatures down to −14 °C. During the flowering phase, 1–4 flowering spadices arise between the new leaves and previous year’s leaves. Each spadix is 2-4 ft long, fleshy, green, 3-5 times branched into ultimate panicles and covered by thick spathe at each node. Basal spathe largest and upper gradually reduced to a bract, densely covered by thick ferruginous velvety hairs on the outer side, inner side smooth, lower spathe completely encircles the node. Flowers are small, more of less regular, cyclic, arise on small expanded base, in ultimate branches of panicles, in groups of 2-4.

Identification credit: Pankaj Kumar
Photographed in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand.
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