Acmopyle sahniana / Fijian acmopyle

Birbal Sahni
Birbal Sahni

Acmopyle sahniana, as described in 1947 by John Theodore Buchholz (1888 - 1951) and Netta Elizabeth Gray (1913–1970), in Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 28(1), is commonly known as Fijian acmopyle, or as Drautabua in its native country. The species name honors Indian paleobotanist, Birbal Sahni (1891 - 1949), who did doctoral research on the closely related Acmopyle pancheri, research that led to the 2 species being broken out into their own genus.


Description. Fijian acmopyle is an evergreen coniferous species of tree which will grow to mature heights of 10 to 15 feet (3 - 5 m) tall, with a gnarled trunk.

  • Foliage is dense and dimorphic. Leaves are flattened, slightly falcate, linear, 0.4 to 0.75 inch (10 - 19 mm) long and 0.08 to 0.13 inch (2 - 3.2 mm) wide. Leaf margins are nearly parallel, glaucous, with prominent stomata below in 10 to 12 lines with a weakly marked midrib and an obliquely acute apex. Leaves on fertile branchlets scale-like, flattened, long-triangular, 0.06 to 1 inch (1.5 - 2.5 mm) long, keeled and broadly decurrent.
  • Pollen cones are produced on terminal branchlet and measure 0.2 inch (5 mm) long and 0.08 inch (2 mm) wide.
  • Seed cones are produced on a branchlet with a scaly peduncle to 0.2 inch (5 mm) long, cone with 2 bracts. The ovule is inverted and solitary, covered by a broad epimatium that is purplish-green in color.
  • Seeds are nearly erect, rounded and elongated into a conical point, covered by a nearly blackish receptacle at maturity

Distribution. This species is native only to Fiji where it occurs in central Viti Levu. It is known from localities in Namosi and near Mt. Tomanivi. It was also known from the Koroyanitu range in western Viti Levu (Mba Province), but recent searches have failed to find it there. Elevation averages 1,700 feet (530 m) ± 650 feet (204 m). Within this range, the mean annual temperature is 72°F (22.3°C), with an average minimum in the coldest month of 64°F (17.5°C), and a mean annual precipitation of 111 inches (2,820 mm).

The extent of occurrence is less than than 60 miles (100 km) if the Koroyanitu subpopulation is assumed to be extinct; further surveys are needed to confirm this. The area of occupancy is likely to be more than 6.2 miles (10 km) using standard IUCN calculations. The total species population is estimated to number less than 50 mature individuals. This estimate dates from 1998 and has not been updated as of late 2010. Subpopulations are likely to be severely fragmented and undergoing continuing decline. In 2000 the IUCN listed it as Critically Endangered.

Attribution from: Chris Earle; The Gynosperm Database, ©2013

Acmopyle sahniana — foliage detail.
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