Pritchardia are single trunked palm trees with fan-shaped leaves. The Hawaiian Pritchardia are generally medium to large sized palms growing from 25 to 60 feet tall. The color and hairiness of the leaves, the length of the flowering stems, and the size and color of the fruit vary by species. For example, Pritchardia martii from O’ahu reaches about 30 feet in height and has leaves that are silvery underneath. The flower stalks grow past the ends of the leaves and the oval fruit is about 2 inches long. On the other hand, Pritchardia hillebrandii is from Moloka’i and grows to about 20 feet tall. It has leaves that are silvery underneath, flower stalks that don’t extend beyond the leaves, and round fruit that is up to 1 inch in diameter and blue to black when ripe.
Pritchardia remota from Nihoa is one of the smaller of the Hawaiian species. Its slender trunk reaches heights of up to 20 feet and is topped by fewer than 40 green, waxy leaves. The flower stalks are shorter than the leaves and the 3/4 inch greenish-brown fruits ripen to dark purplish-black. (Bornhorst 1996; Chapin 1990; NTBG n.d. (b); Wagner 1990)
The genus Pritchardia consists of 25 species of palms native to the tropical Pacific Islands. There are as many as 19 endemic species of Pritchardia in the Hawaiian islands including species categorized as either endangered, rare or vulnerable. Each Hawaiian island has at least one distinct Pritchardia species with some islands having distinct species or forms restricted to individual valleys or mountains. The natural habitats of the species vary considerably. Pritchardia martii grows in the Ko’olau Mountains of O’ahu in wet forests at elevations of 1,100 to 2,000 feet. Pritchardia hillebrandii is from the windward coast of Moloka’i and grows in moist to wet forests from 100 to 1,900 feet. Pritchardia remota is found only on the cliff bases and terraces of East and West Palm valleys on Nihoa at elevations from 650 to 2,600 feet. (Wagner 1990)