Dypsis heterophylla

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
P1010192c Dypsis heterophylla.JPG
Madagascar. Photo by Phil Arrowsmith.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Entire bifid & pinnate.
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Madagascar. Reasonably widespread between Tsaratanana and Marojejy in the north to the Ambositra area.
Floribunda Palms
Submontane rain forest; steep slopes or ridges; alt. 550-1450 m.


Clustering palm, often seeming solitary. STEMS 0.5-2.5 m tall, 7-8 mm in diam.; internodes 3-6 cm long, dark green, distally 0.7-4 cm long, densely dull rusty-scaly. LEAVES 5-9 in the crown, spiral, entire or pinnate, porrect, sometimes marcescent; sheath 6-12 cm long, pale green and densely scaly with long-laciniate purple to red scales, with auricles absent or up to 1 cm long; petiole absent or up to 12 cm long, 1.5-3 mm wide, densely puberulous; rachis 9-28 cm long, densely puberulous to almost glabrous, in mid-leaf 1-2 mm wide, hardly keeled; lamina entire and 17-24 cm long, midrib 7.5-11.5 cm, lobes 7.5-14 x 1.2-3.5 cm, the apices dentate over a width of 5-12 mm and with some teeth on the outside margin as well, with 7-11 main veins, with reddish glands on midrib and minor veins; or pinnate with 2-13 leaflets on each side of the rachis, in groups of 2-5 or irregular, group interval 2-8 cm, the proximal leaflets 7-20 x 0.3-1.8 cm (occasionally much wider than the median and connate for up to 1.8 cm with the midrib, with 1-6 main veins), median 6-13 (- 19) x 0.4-1.3 cm, distal 5-15 x 0.6-3 cm, main veins 1-5, with a few to many scattered scales on the main and minor veins and distally with large marginal scales, apices attenuate to acuminate, distal pair joined for 0.5-5 cm, with 3-6 main veins, dentate over a width of 0.3-1 cm. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, branched to 1 order or rarely (in the north, and the type of N. rhodotricha) unbranched, arching, 15-30 cm; peduncle 7-19 cm long, 1.5-2 mm in diam. distally, densely puberulous; prophyll 4-15 cm long, 3-8 mm wide, borne at 3-5 cm above the base of the peduncle, dark brown, with scattered scales to almost glabrous, opening in the distal 1-3 cm; peduncular bract deciduous, inserted at 9-12 cm from the base of the peduncle, 3-9 cm long, split in the distal 2-3 cm; non-tubular peduncular bract occasionally present and 2-11 mm long; rachis absent or up to 5 cm long, with (1 -) 2-6 branches, with scattered scales; rachillae yellow-green, 4-10 cm long, 1-2.5 mm in diam., with scattered stellate scales but glabrescent, with distant superficial triads. STAMINATE FLOWERS with sepals 0.7-1.6 mm x 0.8-1.5 mm; petals 1.6-3 x 1.1-1.6 mm, striate, occasionally on a 0.3-0.5 mm high receptacle; stamens 6, equal or biseriate, the antesepalous 0.2-0.4 mm lower than the antepetalous, connate for 0.2-0.3 mm, filaments 0.4-1.2 mm, white, thin, anthers 1-1.5 x 0.4-0.7 mm, dorsifixed versatile, slightly apiculate; pistillode trigonous-pyramidal, 0.6-1.2 x 0.2-0.6 mm, cylindrical. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with sepals 0.7-1.6 x 0.8-1.6 mm; petals 2-2.8 x 1.5-2.8 mm; staminodes 0.1-0.4 mm; pistil 2.1-2.2 mm high, 0.7-2.2 mm in diam. FRUIT yellow turning orange and then red, ellipsoid, fleshy, 5-6.3 x 4-5 mm (9-11 x 4-5 mm in the type of rhodotricha). SEED about 6 x 3.5-4 mm, with rounded to slightly pointed base and apex, with homogeneous endosperm. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Dypsis heterophylla was described by Baker with Baron 486 and Lyall 323 as the only specimens mentioned. These syntypes are of different taxa. We believe Baron 486 represents Baker's idea of D. heterophylla best, not only because the other specimen is cited as "also, Lyall 323" but the protologue refers to the mixture of entire and pinnate leaves present in the Baron sheet; the Lyall sheet has only entire leaves. Therefore we have chosen Baron 486 as the lectotype of the name. Lyall 323, the lectoparatype of D. heterophylla, is D. minuta. There are three sheets of the lectotype at Kew, all looking quite different from each other; however, lar. Heterophylla seems a most appropriate name for this taxon. N. rhodotricha is distinct only by the fruit size, and therefore is brought into synonymy here. Dypsidium vilersianum was put into synonymy of Neophloga rhodotricha by Beccari in 1906; Dypsidium emirnense / Neophloga emirnensis was put into synonymy by Jumelle in 1929. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

An aptly named species: heterophylla means with different or variable leaves, and that is certainly true. The type has entire leaves and pinnate leaves on the same stem. This is a small clustering palm of the submontane forest, with quite some variation, some forms being very decorative. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Rare; occurring in a wide area, but not common anywhere. (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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