Marojejya insignis

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Marojejya (mahr-oh-JEH-jah)
insignis (in-SIG-niss)
Maroansetra, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Marojejya (mahr-oh-JEH-jah)
insignis (in-SIG-niss)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Menamoso, Beondroka (Tsimihety); Maroalavehivavy (the female Beccariophoenix), Betefoka, Besofina, Hovotralanana, Mandanzezika (Betsimisaraka); Fohitanana, kona (Tanala).

Habitat and Distribution

Madagascar, Found in the following protected areas: Marojejy, Masoala, Mananara
Marojejy Park, Madagascar. Photo by Jeff Searle, Searle Brothers Nursery, FL.
Avaratra, Ambatovaky, Mantadia Betampona and Andohahela. Occasional monitoring of the species, especially the harvest trends, is required Occurs in lowland to mid-altitude rain forest growing on ridgetops or steep slopes at altitudes ranging from 50 up to 1,200 m.


Solitary tree palm. TRUNK 2-8 m. high, 14-40 cm in diam. (with sheath remnants up to 50 cm), obscurely ringed; distal part (about 1 m) of trunk, covered in sheath/petiole remnants, often with zigzag roots of other plants visible; internodes brown, 1.5-2.5 cm, nodal scars about 1 cm. Superficial roots sometimes present. LEAVES 15-20 in the crown, spirally arranged, 4-5 m long, held porrect in shuttlecock mode, marcescent; sheath glabrous, 40-94 cm long, attenuate towards the blade, without auricles or with clear auricles to 6 x 5 cm, abaxially densely red-tomentose to almost glabrous, bright green to cherry-red, distally (together with the proximal part of the lamina) litter- and water-accumulating with aerial roots penetrating the litter, soon splitting opposite the petiole, the margins often fibrous, the margins with conspicuous robust parallel veins, those of the auricles sinuous or arching; (apparent?) petiole 0-143 cm, adaxially channelled with sharp edges to flat, 4-9 x 3-6.5 cm. in diam., in older leaves with scattered scales; rachis 3-5.8 m long, in midleaf 1.5-3 cm wide and keeled, abaxially with scattered chocolate-coloured to reddish scales (up to 5 x 1 mm) in shallow depressions or ± glabrous; either with the lamina entire in proximal quarter, multi-fold, outer margin 1.5-2 m long, 20-30 cm wide and more distally regularly pinnate, with (22, Amby) 30-60 leaflets on each side of the rachis, or with the leaf regularly pinnate with 59-84 leaflets on each side of the rachis, and nearly all leaflets single-fold, stiff or slightly arching, in one plane, green, the proximal 36-80 x 0.4-2.6 (-7.5) cm (the basal two occasionally 2-fold), the median 75-120 x 2-5 (-15) cm (interval 2-7.5 cm), distal 28-52 x 1-7 cm, connate for 2.5-12 cm, main veins 1-10, fold interfaces with medium-sized reddish scales (floccose whan young, with minute reddish dots or not visible ly reddish-tomentellous; prophyll 26-35 x 6.5-15 cm, with small scattered scales, split over its length, adnate for 3 cm; first peduncular bract inserted at about 8 cm from the base of the peduncle, 34-45 x 5-15 cm, with a beak 2-4 cm or not beaked at all, with scattered scales; non-tubular peduncular bracts 9-15, decreasing in size from base to apex of the peduncle, 2-31 x 1.2-7 cm; rachis 8-18 cm, densely reddish-tomentellous, with 16-50 rachillae; rachillae 5-12 cm long, with a short bare base to 1.5 cm long and 7-13 x 4 mm diam. with a few narrowly triangular sterile bracts, the rest about 12 mm in diam., very densely set with solitary pistillate flowers; bracteoles two, 3-6 x 3-4 mm, acute, very similar to the sepals. PISTILLATE FLOWERS green to creamcoloured; bracteoles 2-6 x 2.3-6 mm, the largest very similar to the sepals; sepals imbricate, slightly asymmetrical (more so in fruit), broadly ovate with slightly thickened, darker apex, the margins ciliolate, 5-8 x 4.5-7.5 mm, with slightly ragged edges; petals broadly ovate with small fleshy triangular apices, 7-16 x 5-12 mm; staminodes slender, 1-1.7 mm, sometimes connate for up to 0.2 mm, in fruit connate with the fruit base and carried upwards for up to 1 mm; pistil 9-12 x 4-6 mm, styles to 2 mm long, papillose adaxially. FRUIT bright to dark plum red to purplish turning black, irregularly obovoid, 18-21 x 11-20 x 10-14 mm, with a pronounced style boss to 5 mm high, this either subapical to almost sub-basal; mesocarp fleshy, 1-1.5 mm thick; endocarp fibrous, 14-16 x 12-16 mm, the fibres parallel near the base, anastomosing distally, without a beak. SEED subglobose, 11-14 x 10-15 x 9-10 mm, with homogeneous endosperm; embryo basal. EOPHYLL bifid, with a long petiole (> 13 cm). (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Lightly shaded, moist but well drained position. Apparantly not quite as moisture loving as its sibling M. darianii . Requires at least warm sub-tropical conditions.

Comments and Curiosities

This is one of the grandest palms of Madagascar. First discovered in 1949 on the spectacular mountain massif of Marojejy, it has now been found to occur throughout the length of the eastern rain forests. There is even a handsome individual growing in the Parc de Tsimbazaza in Antananarivo opposite the Herbarium building. This is a rather massive, litter-trapping palm.

Etymology: The specific epithet is from the Latin for "outstanding" or "remarkable".

Conservation: Least Concern - (IUCN Red List). Widespread in the east of Madagascar, where about 1,700 mature individuals are estimated to occur at about 15 known sites. The threats to this species are not causing any significant declines at present and the extent of occurrence and area of occupancy are well above the thresholds for a threatened listing. The species is therefore listed as Least Concern. It was previously assessed as Vulnerable, but there is more information available on the species now. Periodic monitoring is required because if harvest levels increase or there is is significant loss of habitat, this species could easily slip back into a threatened category again. Although the distribution range is large, it is rather rarely encountered. Where it does occur, it may be locally abundant but in large parts of its range, it appears to be absent. The whole population is estimated to comprise about 1,700 mature individuals. The population appears to be relatively stable at present. (Dr's. Rakotoarinivo, M. & Dransfield, J. 2012.)

Uses: The palm-heart is eaten by local people, and trees are felled to obtain this.

Similar and almost as stunning as its entire-leaved cousin M. darianii, this impressive species from northeastern Madagascar sports a large crown of pinnate leaves atop a tall trunk. It is best suited for the humid, tropical garden. (

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, 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 & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 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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