Metroxylon amicarum 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Liliopsida Arecales Arecaceae

Scientific Name: Metroxylon amicarum (H.Wendl.) Hook.f.
Common Name(s):
English Caroline Ivory Nut
Coelococcus amicarum (H.Wendl.) W.Wight
Sagus amicarum H.Wendl.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2011-07-05
Assessor(s): Bachman, S. & Chadburn, H.
Reviewer(s): Hodel, D.R.
The distribution across the Caroline Islands gives Metroxylon amicarum a large extent of occurrence (EOO) and a small area of occupancy (AOO). Although harvested for numerous purposes, it appears to be used sustainably at present. It receives no formal protection in the form of protected areas. A better understanding of the size of the population and rates of harvest is needed. The populations are naturally fragmented and fruits are found on shores having been carried by waves (McClatchey et al. 2006). It is not thought to be subject to extreme fluctuations. The number of locations is suspected to exceed 10, as it is found in several localities on Pohnpei and it is also found on Truk, Kosrae, Nukuoro Atoll and Fefan and possibly other small islets in the group, such that threats are unlikely to occur simultaneously. However, due to the restricted AOO (500 km2) and a decline in the area, extent and quality of habitat, particularly on Pohnpei, a rating of Near Threatened is given (it almost qualifies for a  threatened listing under criterion B2ab(iii)). Surveys are required to establish the current population status of this palm and monitoring is needed to detect any declines.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to the Caroline Islands (Johnson 1998). It also occurs on Guam, but the lack of local name indicates that it is probably not a native species (McClatchey et al. 2006). Occurs from sea level up to 550 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
Micronesia, Federated States of
Present - origin uncertain:
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:500
Lower elevation limit (metres):1
Upper elevation limit (metres):550
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Population size is not known, but it has been noted as scarce in moist forest (Johnson 1998). It occurs in at least three subpopulations on the islands of Pohnpei, Chuuk and Nakuoro.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This palm grows to 12-33 m tall (McClatchey, et al. 2006). It is found in moist coastal or upland forest, freshwater wetlands and swamps. It flowers repeatedly in contrast to other Metroxylon spp. that are hapaxanthic or monocarpic i.e., flower once and die  (Johnson 1998, McClatchey 2006).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Buttons are made from the nut of this species. Roots, young leaves and stem cork are used for traditional medicine in Pohnpei. The leaves are highly valued for thatch for roofs and the stem pith is also eaten as a form of starch. Numerous other uses are known for this species and associated species of Metroxylon (sago palm) (McClatchey et al. 2006).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species has a restricted range in terms of area of occupancy (AOO of 500 km2). There are numerous uses of this palm along with other species of Metroxylon. At present there is no indication that it is unsustainably harvested, but this should be carefully monitored. There has been a reduction of undisturbed upland forest on Pohnpei and most of the island's forests have been  degraded or converted, mainly as a result of the cultivation of sakau  (Piper methysticum) (Zicus 2001). Any rise in sea level, extreme typhoon events and tsunami can impact on the habitat of low lying atoll systems.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species does not occur in any protected area and no collections are known to have been made for ex situ storage. However, it is represented in numerous botanic gardens.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
1. Forest -> 1.8. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Swamp
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.2. Genome resource bank

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:No
In-Place Species Management
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.4. Storms & flooding
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.1. Shifting agriculture
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.2. Gathering terrestrial plants -> 5.2.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.5. Inbreeding
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.8. Other

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Food - animal
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Medicine - human & veterinary
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Fibre
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Construction or structural materials

♦  Wearing apparel, accessories
 Local : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. Available at: (Accessed: 23 June 2015).

Johnson, D. 1998. Metroxylon amicarum. Available at: (Accessed: 5 July).

McClatchey, W., Manner, H.I. and Elevitch, C.R. 2006. Metroxylon amicarium, M. paulcoxii, M. sagu, M. salomonense, M. vitiense, and M. warburgii (sago palm). In: C.R. Elevitch (ed.), Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands: their culture, environment, and use, pp. 491-512. Permanent Agricultural Resources, Holualoa, Hawai‘i.

Zicus, S. 2001. Islands of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, in the Federated States of Micronesia, in the western Pacific Ocean. Available at: (Accessed: 2009).

Citation: Bachman, S. & Chadburn, H. 2015. Metroxylon amicarum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T38610A44533123. . Downloaded on 22 September 2018.
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