Dypsis malcomberi

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
malcomberi (mal-kohm-ber'-ee)
Dypsis malcomberi craft.jpg
Marcus Garden, Hawaii, photo by Paul Craft
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
malcomberi (mal-kohm-ber'-ee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Rahosy, Vakaka (Antanosy).

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Madagascar. Only known from the Andohahela. Moist forest; slight or steep
Dypsis malcomberi, Jeff Marcus and Dr. John Dranfield, Hawaii
mid slopes, occasionally near forest streams; alt. 400-800 m.


Solitary palm. TRUNK 15-25 m. high, 25-35 cm. in diam., distally 14-15 cm. in diam., at the base slightly bulbous with a few aerial roots, internodes 10-28 cm (distally 5-6 cm), slightly stepped, finely fissured and brown, ringed, nodal scars about 2 cm. LEAVES tristichous, 6-8 per crown, plumose; sheath bright green to yellow-green, waxy, swollen, 1.5-2 m, 17-25 cm. in diam., closed or open for up to one quarter of its length, glabrous, auricles absent or up to 4 x 10 cm; petiole 20-50 cm, 4-8 cm. in diam., bright green, glabrous, canaliculate with sharp edges; rachis 3-4 m long, bright green, in mid-leaf 4-5 cm. in diam., proximally canaliculate, distally keeled; pinnae in groups of 2-8 or only slightly irregular, the group interval 1-13 cm, the pinnae fanned to almost in one plane, drooping in their distal part, 135-188 on each side of the rachis, basal 80-110 (-220) x 0.6-3.2 cm, median 93-135 x 2.8-4.6 cm, distal 10-50 x 1-2 cm, attenuate, main vein 1, bright green, not waxy, glabrous but for the ramenta. INFLORESCENCE infrafoliar, branched to 3-4 orders, arching and with pendulous rachillae in fruit; peduncle green, 20-30 cm long, 6-16 x 3-5 cm. in diam., glabrous; prophyll 42-73 x 12-20 cm, borne at 8-9 cm above the base of the peduncle, glabrous, splitting abaxially; peduncular bract borne at 15 cm above the base of the peduncle, deciduous, 72-117 x 16 cm, beaked for 8-21 cm, green, glabrous with a waxy bloom; rachis 60-124 cm, green, glabrous, with 18-21 branched and 12-17 unbranched first order branches; rachillae 15-48 cm long, 3.5-8 mm. in diam., glabrous, triads dense with proud, slightly reflexed bracts. STAMINATE FLOWERS pale green, with sepals 1.8-2.3 x 2.2-2.8 mm; petals 2.3-2.6 x 1.8-1.9 mm; stamens 6, cream, uniseriate, filaments about 1 mm in bud, anthers about 1.3 x 0.6 mm, versatile; pistillode about 1.5 x 0.5 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS (in fruit) with sepals 2.6-3.2 x 2.4-2.8 mm; petals 3-3.5 x 3-4.2 mm; staminodes 0.5-1.3 mm, flat; gynoecium not seen. FRUIT pale orange, globose to ellipsoid, 8-10 x 4-7 mm, with hardly fibrous endocarp; SEED about 5.5 x 4 mm, with homogeneous endosperm. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Clearly allied to D. mananjarensis and D. pilulifera; though very similar, in the field these three taxa have a different appearance. Probably the same as: Midongy: 24km S of Midongy, May 1992 (fr.), Beentje & Andriampaniry 4670 (K, TAN), but the material is too scanty to be certain; it comes from wet forest at 800 m altitude, but was collected from a tree felled for palm-heart some time before. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

An impressive and massive tristichous palm. The species is named for Simon Malcomber, enthusiastic plant collector and tree climber, who took a great deal of trouble to obtain more material of this rare species. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Vulnerable. Only known from a single small area. Though this species occurs in a protected area (Andohahela is a Reserve Spéciale) the felling for construction purposes seems to continue. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Uses: The outer wood is used to make planks for walls.

A very large and impressive palm from the south-eastern tip of Madagascar, the Malcomber's Palm is closely related to Mardy Darian's famous "Mealy Bug Palm," Dypsis mananjarensis. It unites several of those specific characteristics that could make it a great success as an ornamental palm. First, it occurrs far south and at considerable altitude and thus would be quite tolerant of cool conditions, making it suitable not only for tropical but also subtropical and warm temperate areas. Second, it is a beautiful, stately and fast-growing plant with a smooth, solitary trunk; large, plumose leaves; and a long, waxy green crownshaft, and would lend itself well to planting in avenues, parks, and large gardens. And finally, it reproduces readily from seed. (RPS.com)

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. 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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