| Dypsis (DIP-sis) |
Andringitra, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield/Palmweb.
Habitat and DistributionAs with this entire genus, Dypsis albofarinosa grows naturally on the island of Madagascar.
Before this palm was described in 2003 by Don Hodel, it was sold by Jeff Marcus of Floribunda Palms as Dypsis sp. 'white petiole,' due to the juvenile's trait of a new spear with a white petiole. It was from Jeff's parent plant (adjacent photos) that the description was accomplished. This slender graceful palm is definitely in the D. baronii complex, and looks like a cross between the weeping form of D. onilahensis and D. baronii, with powdery white crownshaft and slightly drooping leaflets. It differs from most forms of D. baronii with it's more slender stems, and from the weeping form of D. onilahensis with less drooping of the leaflets and slightly less white on the trunk and stem. The stems range between 1.5-2.5 in./3.8-6.4 cm. and may be up to 15 ft./4.5 m. tall.Clustered, shrubby palm forming clumps to 5 x 2-3 m. Stems 4-5 cm in diam., ringed, internodes 6-15 cm, greenish but initially covered with chalky powdery white indument, occasionally dichotomously branching as in Dypsis fibrosa and D. lutescens. Leaves 4-6 per stem, ascending, spreading, arching, tips slightly pendulous and sometimes twisted; sheath about 58 cm long, lime green, densely covered with chalky powdery white indumentum, tubular, with blackish scales distally briefly extending on to petiole, a slight auricle or ligule at either side of petiole at mouth; petiole about 75 cm long, ascending, about 1.3 cm in diam. at base, about 1 cm in diam. at apex, initially covered with chalky powdery white indument, concave or channeled adaxially, convex abaxially, margins sharp; rachis ascending to spreading, about 1.35 m long, channeled adaxially near base soon becoming flat with a sharp vertical costa extending to tip, convex abaxially and initially covered with chalky powdery white indument, arching, sometimes twisting in distal half to about 200°; pinnae about 44 per side, about 50 x 1.1 cm proximally, about 50 x 1.5 cm in midleaf, about 17 x 0.4 mm distally, green, arising from rachis at angle to form v-shape blade, forward-pointing, lanceolate, long acuminate, ± with long drip tip, tips drooping, 2 marginal nerves and one prominent midrib raised adaxially, 1-2 secondaries between midrib and marginals, tertiaries numerous, faint, a few dark brown medifixed ramenta on abaxial midrib.
|Inflorescences infrafoliar, spreading in flower, drooping in fruit, branched to three orders; peduncle about 35-45 cm long, about 3.5 cm wide at base, about 2.5 cm wide at apex, about 1.5 cm thick, flattened adaxially, convex abaxially, glabrous; prophyll attached about 9 cm above base of peduncle, about 16 cm long, bicarinate, the two keels extending proximally below the point of attachment on to the peduncle as faint wings, tubular, apex bifid, lobes about 3.5 cm long, longitudinally striate-nerved, thick, ± coriaceous; 1st peduncular bract attached about 16 cm above base of peduncle, probably fallen away and not seen, only a truncated base 0.5 high remaining, this exceeded and concealed by prophyll, 2nd peduncular bract attached about 25 cm above base of peduncle and about 1 cm proximally of tip of prophyll, triangular, 1.5 cm long, just exceeding prophyll, 3rd peduncular bract attached about 27.5 cm above base of peduncle, rudimentary, 2-3 mm high; rachis 35-45 cm long, glabrous, with 14 branched and 7 unbranched 1st order branches, the proximal branches the largest and most complex with subpeduncle or base to 7 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide, flattened adaxially, convex abaxially, subrachis to 15 cm long, 2nd order branches with base to 3.5 cm long, 5 mm in diam., flattened; rachillae over 100 per inflorescence, 5-20 cm long, 3-5 mm in diam., glabrous; rachis and rachilla bracts 1-3 mm high, acute. Flowers in triads of a center later-opening pistillate flanked on either side by earlier-opening staminate or in dyads of 2 staminate or a staminate and a pistillate, triads or dyads 5-7 mm distant proximally, 1-2 mm distant distally, sunken in cleft-like pits 4 mm wide, 2.5-3 mm high, 2 mm deep, subtended proximally by a thin, raised, knife-like lip, 2-3 bracteoles subtending triads or dyads in proximal side of pit, these imbricate, thin, membranous, 0.5-0.8 mm high. Staminate flowers in bud 5 x 3 mm, bullet-shaped, at anthesis 5 x 5 mm; calyx cupular-triangular, 1.5 x 3 mm, sepals broadly rounded, imbricate nearly to apex, keeled, hooded, 2.25 x 2.75 mm; petals connate for 2 mm to receptacle, free for 3 x 2.75 mm, valvatexwate, acute, faintly nerved (strongly nerved when dry); stamens 6, equaling or slightly exceeding petals, filaments 3.5 mm long, slightly enlarged at base, anthers 1.5-2 x 0.5 mm, dorsifixed; pistillode 2.5-3 x 1 mm, columnar, longitudinally angled or fluted. Pistillate flowers in bud 4 x 3 mm, broadly ovoid or dome-shaped; calyx 3 x 3 mm, sepals broadly rounded, imbricate in proximal 2 mm, keeled, hooded, 2.5-3 x 2.5 mm, margins thin, ± transparent; petals 3-3.5 x 2.5 mm, imbricate in proximal 2.5 mm, broadly ovate with short apicula, acute; staminodes 6, 0.4 mm high, tooth-like; ovary 3 x 2 mm, bullet- to dome-shaped, stigmas not distinct at this time. Fruits 2 x 1.5 cm, ± ovoid. Seeds 17 x 14 mm, endosperm homogeneous; embryo sub-basal. (D. Hodel and J. Marcus. 2004)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.
Measurements for the description were taken from non-dried, fresh or pickled material Marcus had collected and sent to Hodel. Dypsis albofarinosa is similar to D. baronii, D. lutescens and D. onilahensis, but these last three lack the powdery chalky white crownshaft and have shorter petioles and smaller fruits and seeds. Dypsis baronii and D. onilahensis also differ in their inflorescences branched only to two orders. The specific epithet is from the Latin albus, meaning white, and farina, meaning powder, and refers to the powdery white crownshafts. The white indument covering the leaf bases is of a waxy nature and is not readily apparent on dried material. Dypsis albofarinosa is in Group 3 (page 127, species 25-46) of Dypsis species in The Palms of Madagascar. This group, consisting of solitary or clustered subcanopy palms with six equal stamens, includes such well known and popular species as D. baronii, D. cabadae, D. lutescens, and D. onilahensis. Indeed, D. albofarinosa keys out to D. lutescens in couplet f23 of Key 6 (page 143) in The Palms of Madagascar. Because its wild origin in Madagascar is obscure, ecological and habitat information about Dypsis albofarinosa is unavailable.Dypsis albofarinosa originated in a commercial lot of seeds of D. baronii exported from Madagascar to Australia in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Several growers and collectors, among them Curt Butterfield of Queensland, Australia and Marcus, recognized that some of the resulting plants differed substantially from D. baronii. They selected out these different plants and grew them on, eventually distributing seeds and seedlings. The species has been erroneously grown under the name D. onilahensis in Australia and D. baronii and D. baronii var. compacta in Hawaii. Marcus has widely distributed this species as Dypsis 'white petiole.' A striking ornamental, the white powder Dypsis grows vigorously to form handsome, rather open clumps of a dozen or more slender stems to five meters tall topped by elegant, gracefully arching, long-pinnate leaves. Long petioles enhance the gracefully arching effect. Most conspicuous and exceptional are the chalky powdery white crownshafts. The powdery white material also initially covers the petiole, rachis, and stems but, unlike the crownshafts, weathers away from these organs. Relatively easy to grow, Dypsis albofarinosa fruits abundantly in cultivation and is easily propagated from seeds. It tolerates shade to nearly full sun in Hawaii. (D. Hodel and J. Marcus. 2004)/Palmweb.
The cultural requirements could also be descibed as being a cross between D. baronii and onilahensis. That is, more drought tolerant and cold hardy than D. baronii, yet less on both counts than D. onilahensis. As with most in this complex, some shade as a juvenile and full sun in most climates will suit it best. This species is an extremely attractive palm that is now readily available, and should be given a try by all those who appreciate a cute clustering palm, tolerant of a variety of climates, that will fit into a moderately sized location. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a
Comments and Curiosities
Etymology: Species name from the Latin; (albo = white, farinosa = flour).
Growers and collectors have long recognized that several undescribed and unnamed species of cultivated palms originating from Madagascar, mostly Dypsis, were not included in John Dransfield and Henk Beentje's monumental work, The Palms of Madagascar, when it was published in 1995. Hawaii palm grower Jeff Marcus was aware of one of these unnamed species growing in a private garden in Hilo, Hawaii and he had dubbed it Dypsis 'stumpy'. Marcus and others had distributed seeds and seedlings of Dypsis 'stumpy' and, because it had become fairly well known to palm collectors, Dransfield and Marcus described and named it D. carlsmithii in 2002 in honor of the late Donn Carlsmith in whose garden it was growing. Now Marcus has brought to the attention of palm collectors another new Dypsis, this one growing in his own nursery near Hilo, Hawaii. It is an especially attractive and highly ornamental Dypsis with clustering stems and powdery chalky white crownshafts. Because Marcus has widely distributed seeds and seedlings, it is appropriate to describe and name this handsome new species. (D. Hodel and J. Marcus. 2004)/Palmweb.
D. albofarinosa, the clustering White Powder Dypsis, was found in cultivation before it was known in habitat. That occurred around 1990, when a number of seedlings grown from a batch of seeds purchased as D. baronii turned out to be a different, unknown palm. This new species was first described just over 10 years ago. By the time later on when it was finally discovered in the wild, in a very small area of inland eastern Madagascar, fewer than 20 mature specimens were found. A powdery-white wax coating (indument) on its crownshafts – and briefly on its upper stems – makes it a striking ornamental. It also has attractively-arched leaves with long, thin, drooping leaflets. A slow grower, its stems at maturity can reach 15 ft. in height and 1½ to 2 in. in diameter. Its IUCN Red List conservation status is Critically Endangered, with a decreasing population trend. Often a species’ decline in habitat is attributed to urbanization or land clearing for farming. However, according to the IUCN, the threat to D. albofarinosa is “due to the impact of seed collectors.” This is, of course, not the first time that the passion to satisfy an overseas market has jeopardized the existence of a plant species. (fairchildgarden.org)
An exciting new species from Madagascar that was newly described only in 2003 by botanist Don Hodel and legendary palm grower Jeff Marcus. Similar to D. onilahensis and D. baronii, it has slender, branching stems and drooping, dark green, pinnate foliage and a distinctive, powdery white crownshaft, making it one of the most exciting new introductions in Madagascar palms. (RPS.com).
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.
Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.
Special thanks to Palmweb.org, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.
Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).
Hodel, D. & Marcus, J. 2004. The white powder Dypsis: a new species from cultivation. Palms, 48(2):90-93.
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.