Ravenea louvelii

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Ravenea (rah-vehn-EH-ah)
louvelii (loo-VEHL-ee)
Andasibe, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Ravenea (rah-vehn-EH-ah)
louvelii (loo-VEHL-ee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Lakamarefo, Siraboto.

Habitat and Distribution

East Madagascar, only known from Andasibe.
Andasibe - Mitsinjo - Madagascar (2014) - East Coast of Madagascar. Photo by "Olivier Reilhes"
Moist forest, steep slope near crest; alt. 800- 1000 m.


Short, stocky, palm of the forest undergrowth. litter-trapping habit, and persistent leaf bases. TRUNK 1.5-3 m high, 15-20 cm in diam. without leaf sheaths, about 50 cm with the sheath bases; distal 1.5 m of trunk with sheath remnants, proximal part only with sheath bases; wood hard; internodes about 3 cm. LEAVES 9-14 in the crown, robust, porrect, stiff, with up to 15 marcescent leaves present; sheath 46-60 x 6.5-8 cm, channelled adaxially, rounded abaxially, swollen at base, with dense soft pale brown tomentum, turning fibrous with age, with long stiff brown mar ginal fibres; petiole 50-130 cm long, proximally 3-5.5 x 2-3.5 cm across, distally 2-3 x 1.2-1.9 cm across, especially abaxially covered in rich brown scales, with very sharp margins, adaxially channelled with the central part flat or with central ridge, abaxially rounded; rachis 2.2-3 m long, in mid-leaf about 19 x 11 mm across, adaxially keeled with up to 9 mm wide flat keel top and abaxially flat, with sharp upper edges, especially abaxially covered in brown scales, continuing past the distal pair of leaflets for 10-21.5 cm; leaflets in one plane, slightly pendulous in distal part of leaflet, dark green, attenuate, 80-104 on each side of the rachis, the proximal ones 28-42 x 0.3-1 cm, median 47-67 x 1.4-2.6 cm (interval 1.5-2.5 cm), distal 10-40 x 0.4-1.8 cm, with some ramenta near the very base of the leaflet, or in young leaves with lines of red-brown scales; rachis bracts 4 x 1 mm; pedicels 0.5-2 mm, 2.5-4 mm across; bracteoles 1.5-4 x 1-2 mm, connate with the pedicel for 0.5-1 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS slightly musty-scented, cream-coloured; calyx connate for 0.6-1 mm, 2.8-5 mm across, the free lobes 0.8-2 x 2.6-3 mm; petals 6.5-9.5 x 1.7-2.2 mm, fleshy, 1.5 mm thick, connate by 1 mm through the fleshy base of the antesepalous filaments; staminodes 6, 2.8-3.2 x 1.6-1.7 mm; ovary ovoid, 3-3.8 x 3 mm. FRUIT dark purple (protologue says yellowish at maturity), somewhat depressed globose, 13-14 x 15-20 mm (25 mm according to Beccari), 1-2 seeded; stigmatic remains subapical or terminal. SEED ovoid, sometimes flat on 1 face, 9-13 x 6-9 mm; seed coat black, 0.2 mm thick. GERMINATION remote, eophyll pinnate. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Warm, sheltered, and moist. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

This is a dioecious genus.

This is one of the strangest Ravenea species, with an archaic appearance. The inflorescences are almost hidden among the leaf bases, and are probably beetle-pollinated. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Etymology: The species 'epithet' honnors; M. Louvel, head of the Forestry Department at Analamazaotra in the 1920s. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Critically Endangered; Only known from a single site, where it grows outside the protected area. Population numbers are low; we have counted fewer than 25 trees with trunks, and rejuvenation seems minimal. This species is known only from a single site just outside the reserve boundary of Analamazaotra in Andasibe. The population is small as there are fewer than 10 mature trees in this place; access to this area is restricted but as it is the only known site, this palm is threatened by seed harvesting for the horticultural trade. It appears that the population has undergone some reduction in recent years, as an earlier estimate of the population size was 25. The population trend is unknown. Access to the area is restricted, but seed harvesting for the international horticultural trade is a future potential threat. Seed collection may involve felling of the trees and may impact the regeneration potential of the species. The locality of this palm is just outside the Analamazaotra Reserve but is protected especially for maintaining its population. The species is listed on CITES Appendix II. Population monitoring is required to ensure that harvesting of seed does not happen. (Dransfield and Beentje 1995)/ICUN Red List.

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).

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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