Dypsis basilonga

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
basilonga (bahs-ih-LOHN-gah)
Hawaii. Photo by Bill Austin.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
basilonga (bahs-ih-LOHN-gah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Madiovozona (Tanala; meaning 'clean neck').

Habitat and Distribution

Dypsis basilonga is endemic to Madagascar. Only known from Vatovavy. Small-crown,
Hawaii. Photo by Bill Austin.
submontane forest, on gneiss; 300-500 m.


Solitary palm. Trunk 2-5 m tall, 10-15 cm in diam.; internodes short; crownshaft well-developed, whitish, about 40 cm long. LEAVES strongly curved, about 6-7 in the crown, 1-1.5 m long; sheath white and waxy, about 40 cm long, glabrous, without ligules; petiole 14-16 cm long, about 1.5 cm wide, channelled, with patches of dense tomentum; rachis about 1 m long; pinnae more than 30 on each side of the rachis, inn groups of 2-3, the proximal pinnae with a very long gap between the basal pair and the next pair, the most proximal to 117 x 3 cm, the next 75 x 1.9 cm, median 64-68 x 2.6-3.1 cm, the group interval 4.5-5.5 cm, the pinnae interval 0.2-0.3 cm, distal 16-40 x 1-1.7 cm, glaucous abaxially, with lines of minute reddish scales on the minor veins, main vein 1, with thickened margins, apices unequally attenuate. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, about 80 cm long, branched to 2 orders; peduncle 40-60 cm long, proximally 5 x 0.5 cm, straight within the sheath, then curved through 180 ° so the branched part hanging; prophyll borne at about 40 cm above the base of the peduncle, waxy; peduncular bract inserted at about 50 cm from the base of the peduncle; first order branches with a secondary rachis of up to 11 cm, proximally 2 x 0.8 cm, with up to 8 rachillae, glabrous; rachillae 15- 19 cm long, about 4 mm in diam., with distant triads in pits; rachilla bracts proud and rounded. STAMINATE FLOWERS not seen. PISTILLATE FLOWERS not seen; sepals in fruit rounded; petals twice as long as the sepals (fide Beccari). FRUIT (see note) ellipsoid, about 20 x 9-10 mm, with rounded base and apex; endocarp fibrous, with anastomosing fibres. SEED oblong, with pointed base and rounded apex; endosperm ruminate with shallow distant intrusions. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

The confusion with D. decipiens was caused by Beccari, who thought the two species were the same and united them in Macrophloga; the new genus was necessary because of the ruminate endosperm of the fruit of Perrier 12088. The leaves in the genus description were based on D. decipiens. The fruit is now missing from the type; there is, however, a photo which shows the fruit attached to a loose rachilla. The description of the fruit and seed is taken from Beccari (1914), who is accurate in his descriptions. The protologue adds the following data, not apparent from the type or its label: Solitary, trunk 4-6 m, diam. 12 cm; leaves gracefully curved; sheath whitish waxy, adaxially pinkish, 3 cm wide; inflorescence interfoliar, branched to 2 orders; Staminate flowers in bud 4 mm long. Pistillate flowers with sepals 1.5 x 1.5 mm, petals 3 x 2.5 mm; ovary cylindrical. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

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Comments and Curiosities

A rare and elegant palm, apparently confined to a single hill which is now surrounded by a sea of cultivation and secondary vegetation. We have seen this species in situ in the type locality, but the inflorescences were too rotten to make a proper specimen. It is a compact, rather graceful palm, common in the low-canopy thin-stemmed small-crown forest just below the summit of Mt Vatovavy at 450-500 m altitude, growing on the edges of cliffs in what is probably a wind-swept habitat. The species name refers to the 'basal' leaflets nearest the petiole, which are sometimes very long. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Endangered. Single-site status; the only protection of the forest derives from local fady (taboos). (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Uses: Excellent palm-heart.

This is a tillering palm, it exhibits saxophone style root growth (it has a heel), keep top third of heel above soil elevation!

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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