5 December 2017.
The Nikau is New Zealand’s only palm. We have many on our property and a whole grove along part of our bush walk. The trunks are unbranched, up to 10m tall with a 25cm diameter.The top is crowned with large sheathing leaves or ‘fronds’.
I couldn’t resist running back for the camera this morning to snap this fresh bloom on the Nikau tree, (Rhopalostylis sapida). There is always something new to spot in the bush. I was just on the way to the clothesline and saw that the pod had been slipped off so that the flower ‘fingers’ could unfurl in the light. Some flowers don’t make it out and can’t escape from the pod, especially when it’s very dry, and then I have to help them by finding a long stick and knocking the pod case off! (foot added for scale). The ‘fingers’ are furled so tightly and often take a day to fully open out. The whole flower head is called an inflorescence and is made up of multiple tiny pink flowers. The fresh pods have a sweet aroma and dampness about them and this one was already housing some beetles. The red berries, up to 10mm long, often take 1 year to ripen and each contains a large seed, a good food source for the kereru and other birds. They swallow the whole fruit and then disperse the seed.