Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Clinostigma samoense
H. Wendland, Arecaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  Evaluate; score: 1 (Hawaii-Pacific Weed Risk Assessment for Clinostigma samoense)

Other Latin names:  Clinostigma powellianum Becc.; Cyphokentia samoensis (H. Wendl.) Warb.

Common name(s): [more details]

Hawaiian: niu vao

Samoan: niu vao

Unknown: niu vao

Habit:  tree

Description:  "Clinostigma are among the most beautiful feather-leaved palms. This species from cloud forests in Samoa in the southern Pacific has a tall, slender, ringed trunk that is initially white but turns green with age. Its leaves are large and undivided in juvenile plants, but become elegantly spreading and very finely divided in adult specimens. C. samoense is fast growing and best suited to humid, tropical or warm subtropical climates." (Palm Pedia)

"Trunk type: Solitary. Hight: To 25 meters, (82'), with a powdery blue to lime green crownshaft, a tall, slender, ringed trunk, the trunk when young appears whitish, but turns a glaucous green with age, and maintains a ‘chalky’ appearance even when mature, when mature they develope a mass of stilt roots. The leaves are pendulant, giving the crown a wonderful appearance. The immature leaves are bifid, and go pinnate after a year or two in the ground. Leaf detail: Pinnately compound, fine leaflets, heavily drooping, with arching fronds, fronds to 6 meters, (20')." (Palm Pedia)

Clinostigma genus in Samoa: "Distinguishable by their large palm habit; fronds pinnate, usually with long reins from the basal leaflets; large, dense panicles; small whitish flowers; numerous stamens; and a black subglobose to ovoid drupe." (Rainforest Trees of Samoa, p. 184)

Habitat/ecology:  "Broadleaved lowland forest." (IUCN Red List)

In cultivation: "Filtered light when young, full sun when mature, consistently moist soil, well drained position. Once established, C. samoense is fast growing palm. The younger palms need either some wind protection, or patience from the grower. . . . C. samoense is fast growing and best suited to humid, tropical or warm subtropical climates." (Palm Pedia) " (Palm Pedia)

"Some authors recognize only one species on 'Upolu, Clinostigma onchorhynchum, with complete intergradation between the extremes of fruit shape and size. However, to the present author there appears [sic] to be two different populations: a lowland one occurring from near sea level to 450 m elevation and having small globose fruits less than 1 cm in diameter; and a montane species (especially common around Lake Lanoto'o), reported from 510 to 750 m elevation and having irregularly obovoid fruits 1.2-1.8 cm long." [PIER ed.: It's unclear from the text which species is associated with which population.] (Rainforest Trees of Samoa, p. 183)

Propagation:  (no propagation information known by PIER)

Native range:  [Clinostigma samoense is] "[a] palm confined to Upolu Island, Western Samoa. Remaining subpopulations appear to be healthy and stable, the species occasionally being quite common." (IUCN Red List)

Clinostigma samoense is "endemic to 'Upolu" (Rainforest Trees of Samoa, p. 183)

Impacts and invaded habitats:  (no invaded habitats or impacts known by PIER; please let us know if you know of such information we should add here)


Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
American Samoa
American Samoa Islands
American Samoa Islands   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
American Samoa
Tutuila Islands
Tutuila Island introduced
Whistler, W. A. (1984) (p. 183)
"Clinostigma samoense is apparently a modern introduction to Tutuila (reportedly introduced from 'Upolu in 1905), where it has become naturalized on the western end of the island."
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawaiian Islands cultivated
Staples, George W./Herbst, Derral R. (2005) (p. 630)
"Although not abundant in Hawai'i, [Clinostigma samoense, among others] can be expected to be seen more frequently in landscaping in the future. . ." (A Tropical Garden Flora, p. 630)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island cultivated
Palm Pedia (year unknown)
accessed 20180423
Samoa   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Samoa native
U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (year unknown)
accessed 20180518
Samoa native
Johnson, Dennis V. (2011) (pp. 237, 111)
accessed online version 20180924
Western Samoa Islands
Upolu Island native
Whistler, W. A. (1984) (p. 183)
"...endemic to 'Upolu...."
Western Samoa Islands
Western Samoa Islands   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Western Samoa Islands
Western Samoa Islands native
Johnson, Dennis V. (2011) (p. 111)
ref says endemic to Western Samoa, accessed online version 20180924

Comments:  In Hawaii (A Tropical Garden Flora, p. 630) "An interesting note on the samoense is that taxonomists are now calling the samoense that we are growing in Hawaii C. species ‘Eastern Upolu'." (Palm Pedia)

Control:  If you know of control methods for Clinostigma samoense, please let us know.

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This page was created on 12 SEP 2017 and was last updated on 21 JUL 2018.