Dypsis ambositrae

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
ambositrae (ahm-boh-SEE-treh)
Daphoto zps6b225f05.jpg
Photo by Brett, SoCal.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
ambositrae (ahm-boh-SEE-treh)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Often doubles above ground (Given to aerial branching), rarely ever triples or quadruples at, or slightly below ground elevation, giving it the appearance of clustering, but can not be separated as individual specimens, as it is one trunk below that elevation, does not sucker, clump, or cluster.
Sun exposure: Filtered light when young, full sun when mature.
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Dypsis ambositrae is endemic to Madagascar only, Central Madagascar, near Ambositra.
Here is the grandfather of all these palms. This very old specimen is considered sacred to the local people. It is an ancestral part of their families' heritage, and protected from being cut down. The homeowner who's property this palm resides on, estimated its age at around 50 years. Photo By Jeff Searle, Searle Brothers Nursery FL.
Open forest and plateaus; among rocks or in riverine forest remnants, medium or steep mid slope; alt. 1300-1500 m. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Solitary palm, often splits and doubles but rarely triples at or above ground elevation, usually stays solitary when in regularly burnt terrain. Trunk 3-7 m. tall, 12 cm. in diam.; internodes 10-20 cm., pale brown to grey (green and ringed when young), nodal scars 0.5 cm., grey; wood hard; base of stem slightly wider, with some surface roots; slight bulge in upper trunk in one older tree; crownshaft pale waxy grey-green. Crown holds 7-11 leaves, spiral, gracefully arching, with stiff pinnae; crownshaft 64-103 cm. long, pale green with a white bloom, ligules 2 cm.; petiole 3-30 cm. long, 3-6 x 2.2-4.5 cm. in diam., channelled with soft edges; rachis 2.1-2.8 m., in mid-leaf 2.2-3.5 cm. wide, green; pinnae 74-84 on each side of the rachis, grouped only very slightly in 2s-5s, in one plane, the pinnae on opposite sides of the rachis at an angle of roughly 130° +-, stiff with only the apices pendulous, apices attenuate, unequally bifid, the proximal 69-144 x 0.3-1.8 cm., (first interval c. 29 cm., more distal 3.5-9 cm.), median 89-114 x 2.3-3 cm (leaflet interval 0.2-2 cm, group interval 2-3.5 cm), distal 18-58 x 0.8-2.5 cm, abaxially with distant tufts of pale grey ramenta over almost whole length of midrib, with scattered scales very faint to invisible, main veins faint, with only the midrib very prominent on the adaxial surface. INFLORESCENCE: Interfoliar, branched to 2 (3 in a few cases) orders, with the basal part within the closed sheath, the prophyll hidden and the peduncular bract spreading from the top of the sheath; peduncle 68-123 cm. long, distally 9 x 5 cm. in diam., green, glabrous, curved outside the sheath; prophyll c. 91 cm., borne at 32 cm. above the base of the peduncle, 11.5 cm. wide, narrowly 2-winged; peduncular bract deciduous, about 80 cm., beaked (about 5 cm.) and closed distally, pale waxy grey, inserted about 48 cm. from the base of the peduncle; open peduncular bract 14 x 7 cm.; rachis 84-102 cm., with 23-24 branched and 14-17 unbranched first order branches, in a few cases some of the proximal branches branched twice more, but not more than 3 in the entire inflorescence; all axes green with white bloom; first order branches proximally 2-3 x 0.5-1 cm.; rachillae 14-32 cm., 3-4 mm. in diam., with flattish base and distant to rather dense triads, hardly sunken in slight pits with entire, obtuse or acute bracts. STAMINATE FLOWERS with sepals 2.2-2.5 x 1.6-2.2 mm., keeled, gibbous at the base, broadly ovate, obtuse, the margins membranous; petals connate for 0.2-0.5 mm., the free lobes 2.8-3 x 2.8-3.2 mm., ovate or elliptic, acute, sometimes with hooded apex; stamens 6, uniseriate, the filaments connate for 0.2-0.5 mm., 2.8-3.2 mm. long, anthers 2.1-2.3 x 1 mm.; pistillode 2.2-2.3 mm., columnar, 0.8-1 mm. in diam. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with sepals 2.4-3 x 3-4.1 mm., broadly ovate, rounded; petals hardly connate at the base, 3.5-4.1 x 4-5 mm., imbricate but for the apiculate apex, broadly ovate, concave; staminodes 6, 0.3-1.6 mm., narrow and flat; ovary asymmetrical, 2.7-4.8 x 2.8-4 mm., with indistinct pyramidal stigmas. FRUIT only known from carbonized remnants, about 14 x 10.5 mm., possibly with fibrous endocarp, possibly with ruminate endosperm. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

With its slightly grouped pinnae, and glabrous inflorescences branched to 2 orders, this species is allied to D. oreophila and D. tsaratananensis, from which it is easily distinguishable by its larger crownshaft, longer leaves with larger pinnae, the much longer inflorescences, and the larger fruit. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


A trouble free palm for Southern California. It can handle a variety of conditions from full inland sun to filtered sun on the coast. Puts out about three or four leaves a year. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

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Comments and Curiosities

A graceful palm of the high plateaux, which would probably do quite well in cultivation. We have looked for seeds but not found any, so far. This species will probably become extinct in the near future, unless some rapid action is taken to safeguard the remaining trees, now numbering less than ten. The name comes from the town which lies between the known populations. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Critical. In 1992 twelve trees of this species were known, all growing in or next to agricultural areas; in 1994, at least five of these had been cut down or burnt. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

A highly endangered palm from the high plateau in Central Madagascar at 1300 to 1500 m (4200 to 4900 ft.), where a few plants survive in forest remnants. It grows a moderately sized, smooth, ringed trunk to about 7 m (23 ft.) tall that carries a grayish crownshaft and a crown of gracefully arching, V-shaped leaves with the stiff leaflets drooping at the tip. The Ambositra Palm is an elegant, tough, and easy to grow ornamental that will do well in cool tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate areas, where it handles the cold and even some freezing. (RPS.com)

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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