Dypsis lastelliana

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
lastelliana (lahs-teh-leh-AHN-ah)
Courtesy of Daryl O'Connor, Brisbane, Queensland.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
lastelliana (lahs-teh-leh-AHN-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Menavozona (Betsimisaraka, meaning Red Neck, referring to the leaf sheath), Sira or Ravintsira (Betsimisaraka, meaning Salt or Salt Leaf, referring to the former practice of making salt from the pith). 'Redneck' Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Northwest, Northeast and East Madagascar.
Mananara, Madagascar. Photo by Dr.Romer Rabarijaona.
Moist lowland forest on slopes (gneiss, quartz, granite), often rather open or near forest margins, or near water, in ravines, also in coastal forest on white sand; alt. 1-450 m.


This is one of the more elegant and colorful Dypsis, and is now widespread in cultivation. With it's large stature and fuzzy bright red crownshaft, it stands out in any setting. In the past Dypsis lastelliana, the "Redneck Palm, " was often confused with Dypsis lepthocheilos, the "Teddy Bear Palm." This confusion was engrained and still persists somewhat today. D. lastelliana can be differentiated from D. leptocheilos by its larger, slightly open, redder crownshaft, more "shuttlecock" leaf arrangement, and overall as a more robust palm in habitat and cultivation. D. leptocheilos differs in having an orangish, more slender crownshaft, with leafs that tend to more horizontal. Once an observer recognizes these differences, identification becomes much easier, and almost certain in most instances.

Interestingly enough, some photos from habitat show a palm with fronds tending well below the horizontal, while most palms in cultivation are oftentimes extremely "shuttlecock." Perhaps this is explained by the variability often seen in Dypsis species. A form with striking persistent white streaks in the petiole is in cultivation and can be seen in the photos below,

A solitary palm. TRUNK 5-15 m tall, 18-25 cm in diam., with swollen base; wood hard; internodes 8-10 cm, pale green to grey waxy green, nodal scars c. 4 cm, pale brown; crownshaft 70-75 cm tall, rich velvet red-brown. LEAVES 9-15 in the crown, spirally inserted; sheath 40- 60 cm long, partially open, adaxially brilliant cherry-red, abaxially densely red-brown pubescent; petiole 0-10 cm long, proximally to 11 x 3.5 cm, distally about 6 x 3.7 cm, channelled; rachis yellowish, to 3.8 m long, in mid-leaf 1.2-2.2 x 1.5-1.6 cm in diam. and here either channelled or keeled, glabrous, sometimes waxy; leaflets (50 -) 94-102 on each side of the rachis, regular, somewhat pendulous, the proximal 39-66 x 0.7-2 cm, median 56-89 x 2.4-4.3 cm, distal 18-54 x 0.4-2.3 cm, with a few tufts of laciniate ramenta on the proximal part of the abaxial midrib, but otherwise glabrous, main veins 1, prominent adaxially, as well as margins thickened, apices bifid and acute. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, branched to 3 orders, spreading, 1.3-2.2 x 1.2 m; peduncle 60-96 cm long, distally 2.5-3.2 x 1.7-1.5 cm; prophyll 30-52 x 6.5- 11 cm, borne at 3-13 cm above the base of the peduncle, rusty pubescent; peduncular bract deciduous, inserted at about 30 cm from the base of the peduncle, 80-110 cm long, about 12 cm wide when flat, splitting along its length but for the upper about 28 cm, with a beak of up to 7 cm long, densely reddish pubescent; rachis about 97 cm long, yellow-green, sometimes tinged red, with 13-17 branched and about 10 unbranched first order branches, the proximal of these with a rachis 2.5-3.5 x 1-1.3 cm in diam. at the base, to 45 cm long, and with up to 15 second order branches; rachis bracts up to 3 cm long, triangular and acute; rachillae pale or yellow-green, 27-47 cm long, 3-6 mm in diam., glabrous, with dense, slightly sunken triads.


This species likes a rich soil with regular fertilizer and watering, intolerant of any frost. But grows well in warmer months in 4 C to 40 C. Grows best above 18 C. An easily grown palm in the tropics which likes full sun/light shade, and a moist, well drained position. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10b

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Comments and Curiosities

Despite its robust growth habit in the tropics and sub-tropics, it has proven not as adaptable in the more temperate climates and languishes in comparison to its oft confused brethren, Dypsis leptocheilos. The name derives from the collector of the type, de Lastellé.

Conservation: Not threatened. Seems to be fairly widespread, over a wide altitude range. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Uses: Pith formerly used to make salt; palm-heart bitter, inedible, said to be poisonous by the Sakalava and Tsimihety. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

D. lastelliana, the Red Neck Palm, is popular for its fuzzy, rusty-red crownshaft. A solitary species endemic to the northern end of Madagascar, it reaches 16 to 49 ft. high, with a trunk diameter of 7 to 10 in. Its pendulous leaflets are arrayed in a regular pattern along the rachis. A particularly striking ornamental use is to plant it out in groups of three or more specimens. D. lastelliana favors warm, moist conditions. The similar-looking Teddy Bear Palm, D. leptocheilos, prefers a cooler, drier climate, and accordingly grows better in southern California than in our region. The IUCN Red List conservation status of D. lastelliana is Least Concern, with a stable population trend. (fairchildgarden.org)

A fabulous, tall and slender palm from northern Madagascar, where it grows in rainforest or coastal forest. The Red Neck Palm has huge, pinnate leaves with pendulous leaflets and a dark red-brown to purple-black crownshaft. It has similarities to D. leptocheilos, the Teddy Bear Palm, but is generally taller and more elegant. D. lastelliana is easy to grow and best suited to warm subtropical and tropical regions. (RPS.com)

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. The 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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