| Ravenea (rah-vehn-EH-ah) |
Antanambe, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Habitat and DistributionRavenea albicans is endemic to Northeast Madagascar; the protologue says common between
Slender solitary undergrowth palm; trunk 3-6 m high, up to 11 cm in diam. at breast height, covered in marcescent, litter-trapping sheath bases. Leaves, about 8 in the crown, porrect, 3-4 m long; sheath about 72 cm, with brown-velvety tomentum over green; petiole 0-34 cm, proximally about 5 x 4 cm across, distally 3.7 x 3.3 cm across, canaliculate; rachis about 3 .7 m long, in midleaf 2-2.2 cm wide with 8 mm wide keel, with transverse ('zebra') striping especially abaxially; leaflets stiff, in one plane, 45-47 on each side of the rachis, the proximal 62-65 x 2.2-2.5 cm, median 75-83 x 6.6-7.2 cm (the protologue gives 50-60 x 2-2.5, but in the type the apices are broken off and the leaflets are folded) (interval 4.5-5 cm), distal 20-25 x 0.8- 1.5 cm; abaxially with continuous white tomentum. Staminate inflorescences solitary, interfoliar, branching to 1 order, hardly exserted, mostly hidden among sheaths and leaf remnants; peduncle distally 12 x 6 mm, dense white-puberulous; with 3(-4?) bracts, the first being destroyed at anthesis, the ones seen 25 cm, 30 cm, 32-35 cm; rachillae 5-8 cm long, 2.5 mm across; calyx reduced to 3 small triangular teeth < 2 mm; petals elongated, triangular and acuminate, 5.5-6.5 mm, free or hardly connate at the base; episepalous stamens with large filament, appearing free among the spread petals; epipetalous stamens with filament connate to inner side of petals, the anthers therefore appearing sessile. Pistillate inflorescences solitary, interfoliar, erect, 126-150 cm, branched to 1 order; peduncle 94-120 cm, proximally 2.5-3.4 x 1.2-1.7 cm across, distally 1.5 x 0.8 cm; prophyll c. 18 x 7.5 cm; peduncular bracts seen 27 cm, 34 cm, 46 cm; rachis 8-12 cm; rachillae 8-13 in number, 17-29 cm long; pedicels 1- 2 mm; flowers unknown. Fruit unknown. Eophyll bifid, with the characteristic white abaxial surface of the leaflets. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.
We believe that this species only flowers and fruits at intervals, i.e. not every year, since all the trees we checked in Mananara Biosphere Reserve over a period of two years were sterile, with only ancient inflorescences. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.
Warm, sheltered, and moist. Likes a very light, open mix and heavy shade. Very slow growing. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a
Comments and Curiosities
Many Raveneas with leaflets that have silver backsides have been incorrectly identified as Ravenea albicans. The most widely distributed Raveneas of this type have recently been identified as Ravenea hypoleuca. As of Jan. 2015, Palmpedia is unaware of any true Ravenea albicans in cultivation. This is a dioecious genus.
This tree is immediately recognizable by the white undersides of the leaflets, and the "zebra-striping" on the leaf rachis. Despite these outstanding characters, it remained uncollected for about seventy years after the first collection by Perrier. The Latin name refers to the white leaflet undersides. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.
Conservation: Endangered. Only known from two recent localities, in one of which where we counted 40 trees with trunks, about a hundred young ones without trunks, and several seedlings. The distribution area was very limited. The second locality only came to light when the book was going to press. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.
Endangered in the wild, with only 2 small populations known.
Uses: Heart edible.
A very rare and hard to obtain species from the northeast of Madagascar, where it grows in the undergrowth of moist tropical forests at low elevation. It is a midsized palm with a slender trunk that can reach about 9 m (30 ft.) tall. Its most stunning feature are the white undersides of the leaves, which make it immediately recognizable. (RPS.com)
"This is a pretty rare plant in cultivation, still, but has great potential as an ornamental landscaping palm, even in California where it seems to show some hardiness. This solitary, pinnate Madagascan palm was nicknamed this for some time (White Majesty Palm), due to the white undersides of its leaves... but I guess it's finally been officially named now." Geoff Stein 2007)
This is a tillering palm, it exhibits saxophone style root growth (it has a heel), keep top third of heel above soil elevation!
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- THE SAXOPHONE STYLE ROOT GROWTH (HEEL)
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.