Why the Navua Palm has such a restricted range is not known, in this respect it is similar to at least 8 other endemic Fijian palms.
The National Trust for Fiji’s Garrick Forest Reserve lies two kilometres from the Nakavu population of the Navua Palm but there are no palms in the reserve.
However, the palm grows very readily in Suva gardens.
Overview of the Soga, Fiji Sago Palm
A solitary and generally slender palm to 12 m in height. The trunk may become quite stout and develop an expanded base. The fronds are light, feathery and graceful with numerous pinnae; they arch in a curve to below the horizontal and lack a crownshaft. Dead fronds, or frond bases, may persist on the trunk giving it a tattered appearance. When emergent the crown becomes much more compact with 10-12 fronds. The inflorescence is large and wispy with small dispersed fruit which are bright crimson when mature.
Distribution: Known only from two small, restricted populations on Viti Levu.
One near Nakavu, inland from Navua, the site of the Natural Forest Management Project, and the other inland from Pacific Harbour. The total population in the wild is believed to be less than 250 palms.
Habitat and Ecology
Occurs sparingly in and on the edge of dense lowland
rainforest as an understorey, canopy or semi-emergent palm. These forests are
some of the wettest in lowland Fiji. Masked Shining Parrots have been recorded eating the fruit.
The only Fijian name recorded for this rare palm is the generic niuniu. The palm heart is edible and the immature seeds are eaten – they are reported to taste like coconut.
This is an attractive medium sized palm which is readily grown in Suva
where it can grow fully exposed to sunlight. For other locations, it probably requires a wet climate or a great deal of water. Readily propagated from seed.
Project: In Progress
1 January, 2008