Dypsis dracaenoides

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
Madagascar. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Madagascar. Known only from Vondrozo forest, southeast of Madagascar. Lowland humid
Madagascar. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
forest and rather dry montane forest in the western part of Vondrozo. Common palm in valleys and on lower slopes; alt. 550 - 600 m.


Clustering palm with 2 - 5 stems per clump, occasionally solitary, erect or sometimes leaning. Stems 2.5 - 4 m high, 0.8 - 1.5 cm diam.; internodes 0.8 - 4 cm long, covered with red scales in the distal part, proximal part with corky lenticels. Leaves 8 - 12 in the crown, forming a shuttlecock; sheath pale green, covered with red brown scales, 18.5 - 25 cm long, 1.5 - 2.2 cm wide, with auricles 5 - 6 × 0.6 - 1 cm; petiole absent or up to 4 cm long, occasionally densely scaly, adaxially flattened, abaxially rounded; rachis 16 - 38 cm long, tapering from about 1 cm in diam. at the base, adaxially flattened near the base, keeled towards the apex, abaxially angled, minutely scaly, blade coriaceous; lamina entire and deeply bifid or dissected; entire leaves 70 - 104 cm long, 10 - 16 cm wide, abaxially with scattered scales, ramenta very sparse, main veins 6 - 8 in each side of the rachis, apex dentate, lobe 55 - 80 cm, pinnate leaves with 8 - 9 very narrow leaflets on each side of the rachis, somewhat irregularly arranged, spaced at about 0.6 - 5.5 cm, proximal leaflets 41 - 60 × 0.5 - 0.7 cm, median leaflets 59 - 76 × 0.5 - 0.7 cm, distal multiplefold leaflets 59 - 70 × 1.3 - 2 cm, main veins 2 - 3, apices dentate, abaxial surface of leaflets with scatteredscales. Inflorescences interfoliar, pendulous to erect, branched to 2 orders; peduncle 50 - 68 cm long, 4 - 7 mm in diam., brown puberulous; prophyll 18 - 20.5 cm long, 6.5 - 8 mm wide, inserted at 6 - 6.3 cm from the base of peduncle, 2-keeled, covered in scattered reddish- brown tomentum, open for 2 - 3.3 cm in the distalpart; peduncular bract 31 - 56 cm long, 4 - 7 mm wide,inserted at 7 - 10 cm from the base of peduncle, sparsely scaly with reddish-brown tomentum, apical beak about 3 mm, split to 3.3 - 6.5 cm in the distal part; rachis 20 - 40 cm long, 0.4 - 0.6 cm wide, yellowish, covered with scattered red scales, with 4 - 9 first branched rachillae and 8 - 11 unbranched rachillae, proximal rachillae to 6 cm long with up to 4 rachillae; rachilla 7 - 16 cm long, about 1 mm in diam., minutely puberulous, triads distant. Staminate flowers with sepals 0.8 - 1.3 × 1 - 1.3 mm, imbricate, minutely scaly, triangular, keeled, slightly asymmetric; petals 2 - 2.1 × 1.6 - 1.8 mm, elliptic, valvate, striate, coriaceous; stamens 6, equal, filaments 0.5 - 0.7 mm long, about 0.1 mm wide, anthers versatile, medifixed, elongate, 1.2 - 1.4 × 0.4 - 0.5 mm; pistillode obovoid, about 0.4 mm high. Pistillate flowers with sepals 1.2 - 1.4 × 1.1 - 1.3 mm, minutely scaly, triangular, asymmetric; petals 2.2 - 2.4 × 1.1 - 1.4 mm, elliptic, striate, imbricate, coriaceous; staminodes minute; gynoecium about 1.7 × 1 mm. Fruit not seen. (M. Rakotoarinivo and J. Dransfield. 2010)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

The dissected-leaved form of this beautiful species bears an uncanny resemblance to Dracaena (Dracaenaceae), hence the specific epithet. This new species is related to group 4 of Dypsis (Dransfield & Beentje 1995), which includes six palms of the southern part of the rainforest in Madagascar. The group includes multi-stemmed undergrowth palms with six equal stamens. The new species is immediately distinguished by its striking leaf polymorphism and inflorescence structure. (M. Rakotoarinivo and J. Dransfield. 2010)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

Conservation: Vunerable [VU (D2)]. Known only from an area about 15 km2, in the west of Vondrozo. About 100 mature individuals have been observed and the forest where it occurs is managed by the local population. Illegal logging and mining activities continue and increase the threats to this species, in particular through habitat loss and degradation. (M. Rakotoarinivo and J. Dransfield. 2010)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Critically Endangered (IUCN Redlist) Known only from Vondrozo forest where it is common (about 200 mature individuals seen). The forest is managed by the local population but illegal wood and mining exploitation may move this species into a more threatened category in the very near feature if these activities are not stopped. The extent of occurrence and area of occupancy are both well under 10 km², it is known from a single location and there is projected continuing decline due to a variety of threats, hence is listed as Critically Endangered.

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).

Rakotoarinivo, M. & Dransfield, J. 2010. New species of Dypsis and Ravenea (Arecaceae) from Madagascar.
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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