Dypsis prestoniana var. 'big curly'

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
prestoniana (pres-toh-nee-AHN-ah)
var. 'big curly'
Photo by Robert De Jong, Oceanside, CA.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
prestoniana (pres-toh-nee-AHN-ah)
var. 'big curly'
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Tavilo (Betsimisaraka); Babovavy, Tavilo (Antaisaka).

Habitat and Distribution

Dypsis prestoniana var. 'big curly' is endemic to Madagascar. Only known from the
Dr. Mardi Darian's Garden, San Diego, CA. Wayne giving scale. Photo by Robert.
Midongy area; an old collection from Mahanoro. Moist forest; slight slope; clay soils derived from laterite; alt. 50-550 m.


Solitary palm. TRUNK 4-12 m. high, 24-40 cm. in diam.; basal boss about 15 cm high, 40 cm. in diam.; internodes 10-15 cm, pale grey-brown, distally green and smooth; nodal scars c. 3.5 cm, pale grey. LEAVES 8-10 in the crown, spiral, porrect to spreading, arched gracefully in the distal part; sheath 90% open, green to pale brown or grey, with waxy covering, with flaking brown tomentum of peltate scales, about 114 x 28 cm, with distinct rounded shoulders, the sheath in cross-section slightly triangular with thick middle section and thin flat margins; petiole 0-17 cm, about 7 x 6 cm. in diam., deeply channelled; rachis about 4.4 m, channelled in its proximal part (channel 6 cm wide near petiole) but in mid leaf about 3.5 x 3 cm. in diam., with slightly sunken circular waxy scales; pinnae about 164 on each side of the rachis, grouped and fanned within the groups, the groups 3-9 in number, dense and irregular, about 4 cm apart, the individual pinnae 0.3-2 cm apart, the proximal 76 -123 x 1-2.5 cm, the most proximal often with long pendulous reins, median 97-112 x 2.7-4.7 cm, distal 17-50 x 1.3-2.6 cm, main veins 3, plus very thickened margins, abaxially glaucous with white wax, as well as with dense patches of large (- 8 mm) red-brown ramenta on the midrib near the base, pinnae apices unequally bifid and acute. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, erect with spreading or recurved branches, branched to 3 orders, about 226 x 90 cm; peduncle about 118 cm long, 12 x 4 cm. in diam. proximally, 8 x 4.5 cm. in diam. distally, yellow with brown scales, turning green with redbrown scales; A prophyll about 60 x 20 cm (to 1.2 m, fide Perrier), woody, densely scaly, slightly beaked, only opening near the apex; peduncular bract deciduous (inserted at 55 cm), the distal portion seen with white wax and minute peltate scales, probably beaked; non-sheathing peduncular bract at 91 cm (4.5-5 cm high, base around peduncle), at 105 cm (3.5 cm high, 9 cm wide), at 110 cm (1 x 9 cm); rachis about 106 cm, densely puberulous, with about 26 branched and 8 unbranched first order branches; main first order branches with a rachis of up to 42 cm, proximally up to 4 x 1.5 cm. in diam., with up to 12 branched and 9 unbranched secondary branches; rachillae 9-42 cm, densely puberulous, 2.5-4 mm. in diam., whitish or pale yellow; triads dense, set in slight pits subtended by entire, rounded bracts. STAMINATE FLOWERS in bud with sepals 1.2-1.3 x 1.2-1.3 mm; petals 1.5-1.8 x 1.3-1.4 mm; stamens 6, 1-seriate, with filaments about 1 mm and narrowly cylindrical, anthers 1-1.2 x 0.4 mm with parallel locules, versatile and dorsifixed; pistillode about 0.8 x 0.3 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with sepals 1.5-2.2 x 1.6-2.4 mm, concave, orbicular, rounded, minutely ciliolate; petals 2-2.6 x 2.1-2.8 mm, broadly obovate with a small apiculus; staminodes 6, 0.4-1 mm high, thin and flat; ovary about 2.5 x 1.8 mm, asymmetrical. FRUIT ellipsoid with rounded apex, 12-15 x 6-8 mm, orange; endocarp fibrous. SEED narrowly ellipsoid, 11-12 x 5-5.5 mm, acute at base, rounded at apex, with homogeneous endosperm with slight marginal undulations. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Quite distinct from other large solitary species with grouped pinnae by its long and interfoliar inflorescence with densely puberulous rachillae, and homogeneous endosperm. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone 9b

Comments and Curiosities

Four basic characteristics make this variation stand out from its counterpart, regular D. prestoniana. One: its mammouth size, (3 and sometime 4 times the size of a regular D. prestoniana) huge even at the juvenile stage, no confusing this palm with a regular D. prestoniana. Second: its much curlier and wider pinnae. Third: its nearly always green, I mean green color. And four: its ease of care to maintain that green color, regular D. prestoniana struggles to keep any semblance of a solid green appearance, (except in Hawaii, once it's well rooted in the ground) often exhibiting a two tone, light green, dark green, striped pinnae and spear (Bill Sanford refers to as the Oreo look).

A species which was discovered through serendipity: HB was trying to refind Chrysalidocarpus midongensis (now a synonym of D. onilahensis), unaware that that taxon came from a totally different Midongy (a small hamlet in the Itremo Mountains), failed to find it, but spotted this elegant tree on the skyline of a hill. The specific epithet honours Mr. Paul Preston, President of McDonald's Restaurants Limited (UK), who sponsored the four-year Palms of Madagascar fellowship. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Vulnerable. At present only known from the Midongy area, where numbers do not exceed two hundred. None occurs in a protected area. HB has visited the Mahanoro area, which is nowadays devoid of tree palms. (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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