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Pinanga is one of the largest genera of palm, including roughly 120 species, with more under review. This genus can be found growing throughout South China, the Himalayas, and New Guinea, and is especially common in the moist terrain of Southeast Asia's Sunda Shelf. These mostly tropical palms, members of the Arecaceae family, are often shrub-like in appearance, and usually develop brightly colored flowers, leaves, roots, and stems due to the dark environment in which they blossom.
Although all species in the Pinanga genus vary in some way, they often share striking similarities. For instance, most Pinanga species do not grow into a tree-like stature, but rather develop into a low-lying but plentiful shrub layer. Like many other types of palms, these species typically maintain a pinnate venation, or an arrangement of veins that begins with a large main vein that branches off into smaller ones. Unlike many other palms, however, the leaflets are typically formed into broad, united segments that vary in size and location.
As a way to attract pollinators in the dark rain forest setting, many Pinanga species grow in bright hues. Flowers often take on striking shades of red or pink, purple or maroon, and sometimes even bright white, orange, or yellow. Although they are occasionally a flat color, flowers may also be seen in combinations of different hues. The fruits of most of these types of plants are generally black or red.
Mature plants commonly bear blotchy green leaves veined in red, often giving the surrounding flesh a deep maroon shade. New leaves, on the other hand, frequently appear in shades of yellow or brown, red or pink, or in a combination of any of these colors. The leaf base, better known at the crownshaft, and the fruit-bearing branches of many Pinanga species are also brightly hued. Crownshafts are usually any color but green, ranging from white to orange, purple to brown. Fruit branches are typically orange-pink or red.
Despite the fact that many of these species bear a number of similarities, they often have distinct variations. For example, some species develop leaflets that are entirely united, while others are completely separated. Some species, such as simplicifrons, are tiny and low-growing, while others, like javana, are almost tree-like in height. Many species prefer warm, moist environments, while others will thrive in cool swamp forests or montane forests.