Phoenicophorium borsigianum


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Phoenicophorium borsigianum
Species Authority: (K.Koch) Stuntz
Common Name/s:
English Thief Palm
Areca sechellarum (H.Wendl.) Baill.
Astrocaryum borsigianum K.Koch
Astrocaryum sechellarum (H.Wendl.) Baill.
Phoenicophorium sechellarum H.Wendl.
Stevensonia borsigiana (K.Koch) L.H.Bailey
Taxonomic Notes: The only species in its genus, representing a unique evolutionary lineage for the Seychelles.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2007-02-01
Assessor/s: Ismail, S., Huber, M.J. & Mougal, J.
Reviewer/s: Baker, W.J. & Lutz, M.L.
Phoenicophorium borsigianum is endemic to the Seychelles and occurs on the eight islands Mahé, Praslin Silhouette, La Digue, Frégate, Curieuse, Félicité and St. Anne. Although the total land area of the eight islands where the species occurs is only 235 km2, there is no criterion met or nearly met. The species can even establish in heavy degraded and invaded forest, dominated by alien invasive species. It is therefore listed as Least Concern. The leaves have been extensively used in the past for thatching of roofs. For tourist infrastructure this practice has a renaissance. While it is not thought that this is currently causing a decline in the population, future trends need to be monitored.
1998 Lower Risk/near threatened (Oldfield et al. 1998)
1997 Vulnerable (Walter and Gillett 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Endemic to Seychelles, this species occurs on the eight islands: Mahé, Praslin Silhouette, La Digue, Frégate, Curieuse, Félicité and St. Anne (Robertson 1989, Matatiken and Dogley 2006). These islands have a total area of 235 km2 (National Statistics Bureau 2005). The extant of occurrence (EOO) is less than 5,000 km2 and the area of occupancy (AOO) is smaller than 500 km2.

The species is able to establish itself in different habitat types from deep forests to rocky outcrop areas. In a survey in 1994 it was found in 56 out of 73 areas of special conservation value (Carlström 1996). This indicates is wide distribution.
Seychelles (Seychelles (main island group))
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In 1942, this species was said to be the most abundant of the endemic Seychelles palms (Bailey 1942). This is still thought to be the case (Carlström 1996). It is also used for rehabilitation of degraded areas. The leaves of this species are used for thatching (Carlström 1996), but it seems that this practice does not reduce the population size. The species is able to establish itself in different habitat types from deep forests to rocky outcrop areas. There is no continuing decline observable, as the species reproduces extremely well in most areas (Carlström 1996). In areas with closed canopy it is also able to compete with Cinnamomum verum (Fleischmann 1999).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Understory tree in forests at low and intermediate altitudes. Colonizes bare eroded ground where drought is severe and able to establish on rocky outcrops. Frequently associates with Lodoicea maldivica on Praslin and Curieuse.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species seems to face no threat that cannot be balanced by its natural regeneration. The most severe threat is loss of habitat in lower areas due to construction activities. An additional threat is the use of the leaves for thatching of roofs. The extent of usage is not known but it does not seem to affect the population size.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Present in Morne Seychellois Curieuse Marine National Park, St. Anne and Praslin National Parks. The species is protected by the Breadfruit and other Trees (protection) Act.
Citation: Ismail, S., Huber, M.J. & Mougal, J. 2011. Phoenicophorium borsigianum. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 23 April 2014.
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