Dypsis ambilaensis

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
ambilaensis (ahm-bihl-EHN-sis)
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Palms of Vohibola Reserve - East Coast of Madagascar. Photo by "Olivier Reilhes"
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
ambilaensis (ahm-bihl-EHN-sis)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Dypsis ambilaensis is endemic to Madagascar's East Coast, Tampina to Ambila- Lemaitso,
Palms of Vohibola Reserve - East Coast of Madagascar. Photo by "Olivier Reilhes"
south of Toamasina. Coastal forest on white sands at low elevations.


Slender, clustering undergrowth palmlet, 1-3 m tall. STEMS about 5-8 mm in diam., internodes 7-18 mm long, green when young, densely covered with caducous dark brown to black scales, old internodes ± blackish. LEAVES about 7-8 in the crown; leaf-sheaths 6-8 x 0.9-1.5 cm, striate, sparsely covered with caducous black scales near base, densely covered distally, leaf sheath mouth with 2 triangular, membranous auricles 3-5 x 3-4 mm; leaf about 25-40 cm long; petiole absent or to 7 x 0.2-0.4 cm; rachis 15-22 cm long, abaxially covered with blackish scales; blade entire bifid, to 22 x 11 cm, the apical lobes to 13 x 5.5 cm, or divided into 2-4 pairs of narrow to broad, ± sigmoid leaflets, the narrowest at the base, the mid-leaf leaflets usually the broadest, leaflets ranging from 7-20 x 0.5-4 cm, the apical pair (or the two lobes in the entire, bifid leaf) shallowly lobed distally, adaxial surface glabrous, abaxial surface with bands of caducous brown scales, numerous punctiform scales and sometimes with long narrow ramenta along main ribs. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, only slightly exceeding leaves, branching to 2 orders; prophyll 12-25 x 0.4-0.5 cm, bearing sparse to dense laciniate red-brown scales or glabrescent; peduncle 17-25 x 0.2 cm bearing scattered laciniate dark redbrown scales; peduncular bract exceeding the prophyll by about 2-6 cm, otherwise similar; rachis 9- 26 cm, sparsely to rather densely covered in red-brown laciniate scales; first order branches 10-27, at least about a half of them branching to the second order; rachillae about 16-55, slender, 3-5.5 cm, about 0.7 mm in diam., glabrous, bearing triads about 2-3 mm distant, each subtended by a low rounded rachilla bract, the bract usually with laciniate redbrown hairs to 1 mm long along margin.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

This is a small palm of the undergrowth of white sand forest developed on raised beaches behind the East Coast. It appears superfically to be almost identical to D. forficifolia. Unfortunately, there are no easy ways to identify the two species, without dissecting the flowers and observing the stamens. However, we have noted that the two species appear to be geographically separated. Ambila-Lemaitso, the type locality, is the root of the species name. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Endangered. Known only from the coastal white sand forests south of Toamasina, forests that are of very limited extent and much prone to damage by fire, as well as to development. (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. 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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