Dypsis glabrescens

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
glabrescens (glah-BREH-senz)
Madagascar. Photo by Jörg Schumann, Thirnax Palms & Cycads
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
glabrescens (glah-BREH-senz)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Madagascar, only known from Îsle Sainte Marie, Mananara Avaratra and Betampona.
Kalalao, Ile Ste. Marie, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Rain forest; tending to occur in valley bottoms; alt. 50-600 m.


Slender solitary or clustering undergrowth palmlet to 3 m tall. STEM 7-10 mm in diam., internode to 9-30 mm, glabrous. LEAVES 5-6 in the crown; sheath 6-8 cm long, 8-11 mm in diam., striate, drying reddish brown, with scattered to dense caducous scales, auricles membranous, 12-16 x 2-3 mm; petiole 1-12 cm, 2-2.5 mm wide near base; rachis 9 -19 cm; blade entire bifid, to 33 cm long, split to almost two thirds the length or with 2-4 leaflets on each side of the rachis, diverging at an acute angle, rather close, the longest at the base to 26 x 1.5-2.8 cm, apical leaflets to 20 x 1.5 cm, apical leaflet tips somewhat contracted, blunt, only very shallowly lobed, adaxial surface with sparse minute brown punctiform scales, abaxially drying pale green, with abundant minute brown punctiform scales and bands of caducous brown hairs. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, shorter than the leaves, branching to 1 order; peduncle 18-23 cm long, about 2 mm in diam., with scattered dark brown trichomes; prophyll 6-11 x 0.4 cm, dull brown, with scattered caducous scales; peduncular bract similar, but exceeding the prophyll by 7-9 cm; rachis 6-11 cm, sparsely to densely covered with caducous brown trichomes, eventually glabrescent; rachillae about 14-25, diverging at a ± acute or right angle, 4-7 cm long, with scattered dark brown trichomes or almost glabrous, but covered in numerous minute papillae or smooth (Beentje 4488), triads about 1-3 mm distant, rachilla bracts inconspicuous, entire. STAMINATE FLOWERS c. 1.1 mm diam.; sepals c. 0.7 x 0.8 mm, rounded, broad imbricate, erose at margin, keeled; petals at anthesis very fleshy, striate, about 1.5 x 1.6 mm, basally very briefly joined, the lobes gaping slightly; stamens 3, antepetalous, alternating with 3 antesepalous staminodes, anthers didymous, about 0.2 x 0.1 mm, pistillode conical, minute. PISTILLATE FLOWER bud rounded, about 1 mm in diam.; sepals erose margined, broadly imbricate, about 0.8 x 0.9 mm;petals valvate apically, strongly imbricate at base, fleshy, 1.2 x 1 mm; staminodes 6 (fide Beccari); ovary about 0.8 mm in diam. FRUIT cherry-red at maturity, ovoid, 13-15 x 10-11 mm. SEED 10 x 6 mm, endosperm homogenous. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

This species resembles D. mocquerysiana in its small stature and entire-bifid or sparsely divided leaf and the position of the three stamens. It differs, however, in the inflorescence that has a much shorter rachis bearing many fewer rather uniform and relatively long rachillae that generally diverge at an acute angle; the rachillae are usually minutely papillose. Perrier 12037, cited in Flora of Madagascar under D. glabrescens, has antesepalous stamens, so cannot belong to D. glabrescens. It is included under D. forficifolia. A palm from Betampona, represented by Beentje 4488 matches D. glabrescens in all its parts except for lacking the minute papillosity of the rachillae of D. glabrescens. At first we thought that the specimens from Mananara Avaratra represented an undescribed taxon, but then a new collection from the type locality of D. glabrescens has illustrated a wider range of variation into which the Mananara collections fit. Razanaparany RN10018 (K, P) from nearby Ambodiriana, has similar rachillae to Beentje 4488, but has a robust leaf with many scales and of quite different texture and form and with a very much larger inflorescence. We have not been able to match this incomplete collection. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

A small solitary or clustering palm of the undergrowth of lowland forest in the north-east of the island. The species epithet, Latin for becoming glabrous (lacking hairs) refers to the branches of the inflorescence. In some populations, the rachillae are quite hairy when they are newly expanded. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Conservation: Endangered; despite being known from three localities, all populations are small. Only in Betampona does the palm occur within a reserve. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

A small, solitary or clustering Dypsis from northeastern Madagascar, where it grows in humid valley bottoms in rainforests. Its slender, cane-like stems grow to 3 m (10 ft.) tall. The leaves are entire and deeply bifid. (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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