Thursday, March 24, 2011

Species of the Month - Johannesteijsmannia, the Joey Palms

Johannesteijsmannia, the Joey Palms. 

Under the group of Fan Palms, or Daun Payung in Malay, Johannesteijsmannia is a genus of four species of palms found in tropical rain forests  of southern Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.   They are beautiful, huge fan palms with large, undivided, diamond-shaped leaves, and usually grow without a trunk – resembling the feathers of a huge shuttlecock. They require warm, shady, and moist rainforest conditions.

These palms are among the rarest in the world and global attention is focused on their conservation status because they are also among the most beautiful palms known.  Because of their beauty, they are among the most desirable palms for collectors, yet they are difficult to find in the nursery trade because they are so rare.

It is an extremely proud claim that Peninsular Malaysia is one of the only places on Earth with all four species of this incredibly beautiful genus occur naturally, and the southern region of Taman Negeri Selangor is home to 3 of them!

The four species of are:

Johannesteijsmannia lanceolata, or the Slender Joey

The "Slender Joey" is the rarest of the four species of Johannesteijsmannia. It is known only from an extremely limited habitat, one of which is in Taman Negeri Selangor.  

It is easily separated from the other species in the genus by its more narrow, pleated leaf that can reach to 3.5 metres tall and 30 cm wide.


Johannesteijsmannia magnifica , Silver Joey

The “Silver Joey” is a magnificent palm, and may be considered one of the most spectacular plants known. It is trunkless, with enormous spear shaped leaves that grow up to 3 metres long, (the first metre of which is petiole) and up to 2 metres wide.  It has also been recorded in the Park.

The underside is covered in fine white hairs which give it a silvery appearance. These leaves arch over and leave any viewer with an unforgettable sight.



Johannesteijsmannia altifrons  or the Joey Palm or Diamond Joey

J. altifrons is more widespread, found also in southern Thailand, Sumatra and Sarawak, but the other three species are known only in Peninsular Malaysia.   

The Diamond Joey is a medium sized, trunkless palm with large, simple, undivided leaves that can be up to 4-6metres in length, coming directly from an underground rootstock. These large, leathery, diamond-shaped leaves are pleated along their length, and have serrated edges.  This is the third species recorded in the Park.


Johannesteijsmannia perakensis also known as Joey on a Stick.

This is the only species of Joey to develop a trunk, and it gets to about 4metres high. The leaves are very similar to those of J. altifrons , but are more widely spread.  This species is very rarely seen in cultivation.   

Notice the man sitting under the palm - this gives you an idea of the magnificent size most of the Joey palms can achieve.



The genus of palm Johannesteijsmannia is truly beautiful and rare, and is a testament to the immense richness and uniqueness of species still to be found in our beloved Taman Negeri Selangor.  Yet, these wonders of our Park are under serious pressure from human activity.  

To quote one botanist from PACSOA, when viewing one of these palms:

“I felt very privileged to have seen these still living "dinosaurs" and the question arose, looking at these plants, is whether there will be any such wonder left for our next generations or will we soon have traded such a wonderful sight for new car tyres?” 

The Park’s fate lies in our hands.


Information and photos were extracted, in part, from:
The Project Towards the Establishment of the Selangor State Park, reports
The Palm & Cycad Society of Austrailia.  Please read more:

2 comments:

  1. Johannesteijsmannia perakensis is naturally found from the Kledang mountain range. There is no record that it occurs in Selangor.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. Have made the correction.

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