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Friday, March 21, 2014

Macarthur Palm

There is an ornamental plant that is ubiquitous in many areas in Luzon, but I did not know what its name was. I then heard from older folks that its name is "Macarthur," leading me to assume that the commonplace palm was labeled as such in honor of the famous American general who said the famous line, "... I shall return." This ornamental palm is being planted by the Metro Manila Development Authority on large pots along its footbridges.

Macarthur palm, ornamental plants, Macarthur, palm
Image Credit: Cainta Plant Nursery

It turns out that Macarthur (Ptychosperma macarthurii) is originally found in isolated occurrences in the Northern Territory and Queensland in Australia, and New Guinea. The palm was introduced to the Philippines in the 1900s. It was named for Sir William Macarthur (1800-1882). He was was one of the most active and influential horticulturists in Australia in the mid-to-late 19th century.

Macarthur palm, ornamental plants, William Macarthur
William Macarthur (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

My presumption about the plant and Douglas MacArthur have been incorrect, but there is still a connection can be made. In 1942, the general said the line "I came out of Bataan and I shall return." during a speech in Terowie, South Australia. Everyone knows that two years later, he fulfilled this promise in the shores of Palo, Leyte.

Macarthur palm, ornamental plants, Douglas MacArthur, Leyte
Douglas MacArthur's landing in Leyte, 1944 (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Because of these associations, I now see the Macarthur plant in a new light. It may not be related to General Douglas but it made me remind of a historical event that started the end of the Second World War and glorified victorious returns in all sorts of battlefields.

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