The Botanical Review

, Volume 85, Issue 1, pp 40–77 | Cite as

Review of Vegetative Branching in the Palms (Arecaceae)

  • Sara M. EdelmanEmail author
  • Jennifer H. Richards


Vegetative branching is common in the palms (Arecaceae). However, current terms to describe vegetative branching diversity are not consistent and do not cover the full range of branching types. In this study vegetative branching types in the palms were reviewed and defined, and the phylogenetic distribution of palm branching types was described. Branching types were described from a literature review and field observations; 1903 species representing all 181 genera were included. Five branching types were found: lateral axillary branching, shoot apical division, false vivipary, abaxial branching, and leaf-opposed branching. Most species (55%) exhibited no vegetative branching. Lateral axillary was the most common branching type. Lateral axillary branching and shoot apical division were predicted to be the earliest-evolved branching types. The present study suggests that branching types have different evolutionary histories, and it is likely that the solitary habit is more common now than when palms initially diverged from commelinid relatives.


Arecaceae Branching Commelinid monocots Monocotyledons Palmae Palm phylogeny Vegetative anatomy Vegetative propagation 



We would like to thank Dr. Scott Zona for his extensive guidance and help editing, Dr. Jack Fisher for his help with the anatomical analysis and Dr. P. Barry Tomlinson for his help with the literature review and for anatomical insights. SME gratefully acknowledges the support of the Florida International University Dissertation Year Fellowship and the FIU International Center for Tropical Botany, both of which provided time for completing her dissertation; this research was completed in partial fulfillmet of her dissertation requirements. She also acknowledges the support of a Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Graduate Fellowship, which supported her during her dissertation research.


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.International Center for Tropical BotanyMiamiUSA

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