Dypsis baronii

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
baronii (bah-ROHN-ee)
var. 'Black stem', Madagascar. Photo by Justin.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
baronii (bah-ROHN-ee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Farihazo (Imerina, "sugarcane tree"); Tongalo (Betsimisaraka). Sugar Cane Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Dypsis baronii is endemic to Madagascar. North, Central and E Madagascar.
Marojejy, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Moist montane forests, bamboo-dominated forests; usually on steep mid-slopes, less often on ridge crests; survives in half-shade or full sun; 850-1470 m.


Clustering palm in clumps of 3-5, rarely appearing solitary. STEMS S 2-8 m. high, rarely with a single branching point, 2.5-12 [-22] cm in diam., near the crown 2.5-5.5 cm in diam.; internodes 4-35 cm., near the crown as short as 1.3 cm., grey, grey-green or blackish; nodal scars about 0.5 cm., faint, white; wood hard, with a dense layer of hard red fibres just underneath the bark; crownshaft to 10 cm in diam., pale green to pale yellow, waxy, the unexposed sheaths peach-coloured; occasionally with the remnants of sheaths remaining on the distal part of the trunk, but usually the leaves abscising neatly. LEAVES 4-8 in the crown, spiral or tristichous, arching, the young leaves sometimes held on edge in their distal half; crownshaft 28-60 cm. long, pale green to pale yellow, waxy, the unexposed sheaths peach-coloured, only distally densely scaly, with auricles to 2 cm. high; petiole 0-37 (-53) cm. long, proximally 1-2.3 x 1.2-2.5 cm., distally 0.8-1.3 x 0.8-1 cm in diam., with dense but flaking red to dark scales, therefore appearing crimson when young, later with scattered scales, slightly channelled; rachis 0.5-1.2 m. long, abaxially densely scaly but glabrescent, in mid-leaf 0.8-1.6 cm wide and keeled; leaflets 35-60 on each side of the rachis, regular, in one plane, dark green, stiff with the distal part pendulous, the proximal 19- 100 x 0.3-1.1 cm., median 25-49 [-77] x 0.9-2.7 cm., distal 7-36 x 0.3-1.8 cm., sometimes glabrous but more often with quite a few ramenta (2-5 mm. long) proximally, on the minor veins often with scattered reddish bumps, these being the remnants of the quite dense bases, of stellate-laciniate reddish scales on the minor veins in young leaves, main vein 1, plus rather thickened margins, apices bifid, unequally attenuate. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar or infrafoliar, branched to 2 orders, arching; peduncle 24-62 cm. long, proximally 0.8-2.2 x 0.5-0.8 cm., distally 1.8-3.5 x 0.9-2 cm in diam., glabrous, proximally red, distally green; prophyll 25-73 x 2.2-4 [-5.5] cm., borne at 2.5-22 (-45) cm. above the base of the peduncle, erect, often hooded, dark crimson to pale brown, distally with scattered scales; peduncular bract inserted at 22-54 from the base of the peduncle, deciduous, 20-44 (-65) cm. long, erect and hooded, deep crimson or brown, carried upwards by the lengthening inflorescence; non-tubular peduncular bracts usually 2, 1-6 (-17.5) x 0.6-1.4 cm.; rachis 13-33 cm. long, glabrous, with 5-21 branched and 7-10 unbranched first order branches, the proximal with a secondary rachis of up to 4.5 [-11.5] cm. long and 4-13 x 2-6 mm. in diam. and with 4-9 [-15] rachillae, rachis bracts 4-20 mm. long; rachillae 3-24) cm. long, [1.5-] 2.5-4.5 mm in diam., glabrous, pinkish to pale green, with distant or dense slightly sunken triads; rachilla bracts 1-1.5 mm., acute.


One of the most cold tolerant of the Madagascan palms. Deserves to be much more widely grown than it is, in view of its attractiveness, and cold tolerance. Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b (established specimens)

Can be a bit difficult, but usually prefers a lightly shaded, moist, but well drained position. As mentioned above, quite untroubled by even several degrees of frost.

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Comments and Curiosities

A common species of the rain forest of the eastern escarpments. It closely resembles D. lutescens, but that is strictly a littoral species, confined to a narrow strip of vegetation close to the sea; and D. onilahensis, from drier localities on the Western side of the island. D. baronii is a graceful palm, and is often seen in the gardens of central Madagascar, particularly in Antananarivo. This is such a fine ornamental that it should be much more widely grown outside Madagascar than it is at present, particularly in view of its occurrence in upland areas. The species was named after the Reverend Richard Baron (1847-1907) who collected the type and many other plants in 1880-1897. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Uses: Excellent palm-heart; fruit edible and sweet. Very elegant palm, cultivated in Antananarivo and on the plateau as an ornamental.

External Links


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).

Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995. Palms of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and The International Palm Society.
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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