Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

Growth Habits and Trellis Requirements of Climbing Palms (Calamus spp) in North-Eastern Queensland

FE Putz

Australian Journal of Botany 38(6) 603 - 608
Published: 1990


Calamus moti and C. australis in tropical forest on the Atherton Tableland, Queensland, Australia, climb with the aid of long whip-like flagella covered with sharp hooks. Stiff stems and long flagella allow climbing palms to span larger gaps between successive supports than other types of climbers. Furthermore, recurved hooks on the flagella serve as a ratchet-like mechanism that draws climbing palms closer to supporting plants. Although both palm species climbed up through closed canopy forest, they were more abundant on treefall gap margins. Many gap-edge climbers survived after their supporting trees fell and grew back upwards on gap-edge trees. Once in the canopy, the climbing palms avoided growing up and out of the tops of their supporting trees through the combined effects of decreased internode length and downward slippage of the dangling stem.

© CSIRO 1990

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