Dypsis sanctaemariae

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
In habitat. Photo-Rare Palm Seeds.com
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Madagascar. Known only from Îsle Sainte-Marie.
Madagascar. Photo by Jeff Searle, Searle Brothers Nursery Florida.
White sand forest; alt. 10-20 m.


Clustering palm of the forest undergrowth. STEMS to 2.5 m tall, about 2 cm in diam.; internodes c. 3 cm long, basally grey-brown, distally green, with scattered brown scales. LEAVES about 8 in crown, porrect, forming a "shuttlecock" and tending to trap litter; sheath yellow green or crimson, 17-20 cm long, 2-3 cm in diam., densely covered in evenly spaced red-brown scales, auricles triangular, 0.5-2.5 x 1- 2 cm; petiole absent; blade to 120 cm long, entire, bifid, or with 2 very broad leaflets on one side of the rachis, the apical cleft to 48 cm deep, or irregularly divided into leaflets; costa or rachis 80-88 cm long, 7-9 mm wide at the base, abaxially densely covered with red-brown scales; leaflets very variable in width, to 10 on each side of the rachis, proximal leaflets 35 x 0.5 cm, then leaflets increasing in length and width towards the middle of the leaf, where 44 x 2.3 cm, then decreasing in length to the broad distal pair to 26.5 x 3.5 cm, adaxial surface with very sparse minute brown punctiform scales along major veins, abaxially with abundant brown punctiform scales and bands of looser brown scales. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, branched to one order; peduncle 41-45 cm long, erect or strongly reflexed, about 10 mm wide at the base, tapering to 4-6 mm wide distally, thinly covered with red-brown tomentum; prophyll inserted 8.5-10 cm above the base of the peduncle, 18-36 x 1.2-1.3 cm, striate, sparsely covered with red-brown scales; peduncular bract inserted at least 14 cm above the insertion of the prophyll, 25 x 2 cm when split and opened out, scaly as the prophyll; rachis 11-13 cm, 4-6 mm in diam. at the base, red-brown tomentose; rachillae 5-6, pendulous, 30-40 cm long, about 3.5 mm in diam. when fresh, shrinking to about 2 mm in diam. in dried specimens, with a basal bare portion 1-6 cm long, surface with scattered short brown hairs; triads about 2 mm distant, partially sunken in shallow pits, the rachilla bracts inconspicuous, about 0.5 x 2.5 mm. STAMINATE FLOWER buds bluntly pointed, about 2.5 x 1.5 mm; sepals rounded, 1.5 x 1.5 mm, irregularly keeled; petals 2.5 x 1.5 mm, triangular; stamens 6, filaments (in bud) 0.7 mm long, anthers 1.5 x 0.5 mm; pistillode conical, trifid, minute. PISTILLATE FLOWER 4 x 2.5 mm; sepals 1.8 x 1.8 mm, broad imbricate; petals triangular 3.5 x 2 mm; staminodes 6, minute; ovary 3 x 2 mm, conical, stigmas eccentric. FRUIT unknown. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

The form of the inflorescence and stamen number suggest that this species is related to D. boiviniana. It may be distinguished from the latter species by the form of the leaf, which is entire and bifid, or with few irregular approximate leaflets as opposed to numerous fascicled and divergent leaflets, and the rachillae which are more slender and with inconspicuous rachilla bracts. It is similar to D. mangorensis but differs in the very much larger leaf, lacking a petiole and in the much longer rachillae. Maroantsetra: Hiaraka, Oct. 1986 (bud), Dransfield et al. JD6367 (K, TAN) seems a very slender (clustering) plant of this species; the stem is 1 cm thick, the sheath 15 -16 cm long, the petiole is almost absent; the leaflets are regular and slightly smaller than in the above description; the inflorescence is also slender, with a 2 mm thick peduncle; there are four rachillae 21-23 cm long. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

A handsome palm of the undergrowth of wind-pruned coastal forest, on white sand raised-beaches on the Indian Ocean coast of Îsle Sainte Marie. It occurs in two forms that grow together, one with a pinnate leaf, the other with an entire leaf. In the field we thought that this species might be a form of D. paludosa with inflorescences branched to one instead two orders, but there are six stamens so the relationships are with D. boiviniana. The species epithet is derived from Sainte-Marie. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Critical; known from a single population. The Forêt d'Ambohidena is under threat by the development of a new resort hotel. (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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