Dypsis pilulifera

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Special note: Until recently this species was known as Dypsis sp. 'Jurassic Park', and has now been changed to Dypsis pilulifera, and the palm that held the name Dypsis pilulifera, has been returned to it's un-described name of Dypsis sp. ‘Orange Crush.’

Dypsis (DIP-sis)
pilulifera (pihl-oo-lih-FEHR-ah)
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
pilulifera (pihl-oo-lih-FEHR-ah)
Dypsis sp. 'Jurassic Park'
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Suchin Marcus with New Flower.


Dypsis Sp. 'Jurassic Park' - Dypsis pilulifera, has a homogeneous endosperm in the seed, and Dypsis oropedionis is ruminate. The palms look similar but are a different species. (J.D. Andersen Nursery, Hawaii.)

Solitary palm. TRUNK 8-30 m high, 10-40 cm. in diam. at breast height, 10-12 cm. in diam., near the crownshaft, internodes 20-60 cm proximally, 2-3 cm near the crownshaft, green becoming greyish or dark brown, conspicuously ringed, nodal scars about 1.5 cm; wood medium hard. LEAVES 4-9 in the crown, tristichous, slightly arching; sheath 1.1-1.7 m long, 3 mm thick, abaxially green, pale brown to peach-coloured with some wax, and with slightly sunken large (3-8 x 1-2 mm) reddish-tomentose scales, that continuously cover flaking and glabrescent, with disintegrating auricles of about 4 x 6 cm; petiole absent or up to 40 cm long, with the same indument as the sheath but with only remnants of the scales present, 7 x 4 cm in diam., canaliculate; rachis 2.9-5 m long, in mid-leaf about 2 x 1.5 cm, with small scattered scales, proximally canaliculate, distally keeled; pinnae grouped and fanned or slightly irregular, 70-144 on each side of the rachis, closely set, the proximal 56-160 x 0.5-1.8 cm, median 88-124 x 2.4-3.7 cm, distal 10-44 x 0.4-2 cm, glabrous or with minute scattered scales, with distant red ramenta, main vein 1, with unequally acute apices. INFLORESCENCE infrafoliar, branched to 3-4 orders, erect in bud, pendulous in fruit; peduncle about 23 cm long, 8 x 3.5 cm. in diam.; prophyll 40-50 x 9-15 cm, borne at about 3 cm above the base of the peduncle, beaked for up to 10 cm, pale brown abaxially, chestnut brown adaxially; peduncular bract inserted at about 7 cm above the base of the peduncle, 37-70 x 6.5-13 cm, split over its length but closed in the distal part which forms a beak 10 cm long; rachis with up to 20 first order branches; rachillae cream, (7-) 20-40 cm long, 2.5- 3 mm. in diam., with quite dense triads in pits. STAMINATE FLOWERS (from detached material) with sepals 1-1.2 x 1.5-2 mm; petals 1.8-2 x 1.4 x 0.7 mm, versatile; pistillode columnar, 1.8 x 0.7 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with sepals 1.3-2.1 x 1.4-2.2 mm, hooded and rounded; petals 2-2.9 x 1.8-2.5 mm; staminodes six, 0.2-0.6 mm high; gynoecium 2-2.8 mm high, 1.5-2.3 mm. in diam., slightly asymmetrical with spreading terminal stigmas. FRUIT globose, 5-7 mm, with fibrous endocarp, the fibres anastomosing. SEED globose or nearly so, 4-5 mm, rounded at base and apex with homogeneous endosperm. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Despite the fact that the type of D. pilulifera consists of an inflorescence with fruits and lacks any vegetative material, it is one and the same as the other populations from the North, rather than D. mananjarensis. Another collection by de Lastelle (the type of D. lastelliana) is also without locality, but judging by the distribution of that species, must have been from NE Madagascar. Beccari and Jumelle state that the type of D. pilulif-(Photo: D.N. Cooke). era was called Neodypsis lastelliana by Baillon, but in fact Baillon compared it to that taxon, and wrote that it was quite likely a different species. The material of Chrysalidocarpus paucifolius is scanty, but a second collection made in the type area some seventy-five years later is conspecific, and allows us to state with almost complete certainty that this taxon is identical to D. pilulifera. Close to D. mananjarensis, from which it can be distinguished by the indument: reddish tomentose scales in D. pilulifera, against large white waxy scales in D. mananjarensis. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


"This Dypsis seems variable in size and colour not only of the new spear, but the leaf colour as well, which varies from the "darkest" green to some with lime green leaves, and this 1 with the red petiole has a mix of dark and light green. In the shade, these are very very slow, full sun they grow at a very good speed." (Pete) Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

PFC for PP.png

Comments and Curiosities

This species was thought to be D. tokoravina, and then a couple years later it had been re-classified as an sp. and was classified as Sp. 'Jurassic Park' as it had been years eariler, again, now it has been re-classified to Dypsis pilulifera. edric.

"Jeff Marcus wanted me to post the following updates to a couple of Dypsis ID mysteries that have changed and been confirmed. As a result of several visits to Jeff’s collection, and by using herbarium specimens, Dr. Dransfield and Jeff have the following information to share.

Jeff would like to express his appreciation to Dr. Dransfield, and feels fortunate that we have a taxonomist who cares enough to get things right in a very complicated genus like Dypsis. And to be open minded enough to base his scientific observations on information obtained from a private palm garden.

There is a palm that was known for many years primarily as Dypsis sp. “Orange Crush.” And several years ago the species name of Dypsis pilulifera was assigned to it. However, it has now been confirmed by comparing herbarium specimens at Kew, that this palm is not D. pilulifera. Apparently this palm will now again have to be considered as undescribed.

But all is not lost. The real Dypsis pilulifera has been found. The palm that has been sold by Floribunda for many years as Dypsis sp. ‘Jurassic Park’ has turned out to be D. pilulifera. This palm was also known in the trade for a time incorrectly as D. tokoravina.

Below is a photo of these two palms side by side in Jeff’s garden. The palm Jeff is standing next to is the “new” D. pilulifera (formerly “Jurassic Park"), and the two palms to the right are the “newly (again) undescribed” Dypsis sp. ‘Orange Crush.’" (Dypsisdean)

"First - in response to Neoflora whoever he/she may be, I must protest that job security doesn't come into it - I am retired after all! Our concern always, as taxonomists, is to work towards a stable, useful taxonomy that reflects relationships. But as humans (I think) we do make mistakes and furthermore, the goal posts are constantly moved as more and more material is introduced and comes to maturity. The material of Orange Crush that Bo sent does indeed closely resemble pilulifera in flowers and fruit but now I know the palm better in cultivation, it's clearly quite different from Jurassic Park (OK, you don't need me to tell you that). My task last week was to go through all the material in Kew looking at big canopy Dypsis specimens to see what Jurassic Park, material of which - and photos- I collected at Floribunda in February, most closely resembles. Another correspondent commented that problems probably arose by us looking at dried brown scraps in herbaria rather than living palms. BUT, the whole point is that the scientific name of a palm is authenticated by the type specimen - which in many cases may be a miserable scrap. It takes quite a lot of detective work to match up these scraps with modern scraps or modern well collected herbarium material. The type specimen of D. pilulifera was collected by Perrier de la Bathie in the 1920s. That specimen is in the Paris herbarium and in the University at Marseille. We have excellent life-sized photographic prints of the type and it was by comparison with that, and reading the original description that I have come to the conclusion that Jurassic Park is D. pilulifera. I am really confident about this. D. pilulifera, as treated in POM, may possibly contain some heterogeneous elements (our description may be too broad and include things that don't belong) but I am confident that the name pilulifera as I am applying it today is correct. Field botanists these days do take vast amounts of digital photographs (in answer to Mike in Kurtistown (oh, how I wish people used their real names on Palm talk). The value of digital photography has, of course, been long ago accepted by taxonomists. However, no amount of digital photography can improve historic scraps of dead brown 'hay' on which plant names are often based. What has helped me so much has been the opportunity to work with Jeff Marcus with his brilliant eye for species differences, to get to know the plants in cultivation, to as it were know them, and then to try to apply existing names. Where there is really no name and where I feel confident that we are dealing with a discrete taxon rather than variation within an existing taxon, then I will go about describing something as new. There are still more than a handful of big Dypsis in cultivation that defy naming at present and an equal number of really well collected modern specimens from the wild that await naming." Dr. John Dransfield) John (Dr. John Dransfield)

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).

J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995.

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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