Dypsis bonsai

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
bonsai (bohn-SAH-ee)
Beanivona, Makira Protected Area, Toamasina, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
bonsai (bohn-SAH-ee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Bonsai Palm

Habitat and Distribution

Dypsis bonsai is endemic to Madagascar. Marojejy area and Masoala Peninsula; possibly
Beanivona, Makira Protected Area, Toamasina, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Zahamena. Low forest or ericoid vegetation on ridge crests; alt. 1000-1700 m.


Solitary palm. STEMS 1-2 m tall; distal internodes 0.7-1.3 cm, 6-8 mm in diam, reddish pubescent; nodal scars 2 mm. LEAVES 4-8 in the crown, pinnate; sheath 6.5-9 cm long, the outer open, densely reddish pubescent, with auricles 3 mm; petiole 1-4 cm long, 2-2.5 mm wide, densely to sparsely pubescent; rachis 10-18 cm long, in mid-leaf about 2 mm wide, densely to sparsely pubescent; leaflets 10-14 on each side of the rachis, in groups of 2-5, the group interval 1.5-5 cm, the proximal 4-9 x 0.2-1 cm, median 5.5-11 x 0.6-2.2 cm, distal 3-5 x 0.2-1.2 cm, main veins faint, 1 (-5), with scattered scales or almost glabrous, but distally on the margin with some longer scales, apices acuminate, unequal, distal pair joined for 0.5-1.2 cm, narrowly dentate. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, branched to 1-2 orders with orange axes; peduncle (13-) 22-28 cm long, 3-6 mm in diam., densely pubescent; prophyll 13-20 cm long, 8-11 mm wide, with scattered scales, open in the distal few cm; peduncular bract inserted at about 15 cm from the base of the peduncle, about 11 cm long, open for two-thirds, with a 3 mm long beak, quickly deciduous; non-tubular peduncular bract 2-6 x 5 mm; rachis 3-5.5 cm long, puberulous, with up to 3 (but usually without) forked first order branches, and 5-13 unbranched first order branches; rachillae 4-12 cm long, 1.5-2.5 mm in diam., densely pubescent or puberulous, or with sparse scales. STAMINATE FLOWERS with sepals orange, 1.3-1.8 x 1.2-1.7 mm; petals orange, 2-2.6 x 1.3-1.5 mm (on an up to 0.6 mm high receptacle); stamens 6, white, uniseriate, the filaments 0.6-0.9 mm long and thin, the anthers 1.2-1.3 x 0.5-0.7 mm, dorsifixed with parallel locules; pistillode 0.7-1 x 0.3 mm, conical. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with sepals 1-2 x 1.3-2.2 mm; petals 3-3.4 x 3-3.6 mm; staminodes 6, 0.2-1 mm; pistil about 2.5 x 1.9 mm. FRUIT only seen young, then golden yellow and about 8.5 x 4 mm, with subaequatorial stigmatic remains. SEED 8 x 3.5 mm, with homogeneous endosperm. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Slightly similar to D. linearis in the stout, erect inflorescence with orange axes and very hairy, rather fat rachillae; but distinct in much slighter build, the build and size of the leaflets. Other relationships are probably with D. concinna and D. heterophylla. Nosy Varika: Sakaleona valley, June 1939 (fl., y.fr.), Decary 14220 (P) is similar, but differs in the petiole (6- 11 cm long), rachis (to 23 cm long), peduncle (14-16.5 cm), rachillae 14-18 cm long; the peduncular bract is inserted at 8 cm from the base of the peduncle, and is 10.5 cm long. Pistillate flowers were within the range given above; fruit was 6-6.5 x 4-5 mm, and seed 4 x 3 mm, with homogeneous endosperm. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

A beautiful little palm, with a name which is Japanese for 'dwarf tree' or 'dwarfed tree'; we believe this is a wind-dwarfed taxon, and it is one of the most beautiful of the smaller Madagascar palms; of course, the taxon has no connection with Japan, but it looks like a bonsai tree. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Vulnerable. Occurs in a fire susceptible habitat, over a limited area. Numbers presumably low (possibly fewer than 300). (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

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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