Dypsis cabadae

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
cabadae (kah-BAHD-eh)
La Habana Botanical Garden, Cuba. Photo by Jason Schoneman.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
cabadae (kah-BAHD-eh)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary, and clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Comoros. Only known from cultivated plants;
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.
origin questionable.


Clustering palm in tufts of up to 14 stems. STEMS to 10 m tall, to 9 cm in diam.; internodes 9-12.7 cm long, smooth, glossy, green, nodal scars prominent, pale. LEAVES about 10 in the crown, arching distally; sheath 50-76 cm long, bright green with a glaucous bloom, sparsely dotted with reddish fimbriate scales but glabrescent, with square shoulders; petiole 25-33 cm long (-60 cm in young shoots) with a prominent callus pad at the base, glabrous, channelled, 1.7-2 x 2-2.2 cm diam. proximally, 2-2.3 x 1.7-1.9 cm distally; rachis to 1.7 m long, green adaxially, yellowish abaxially, glabrous, in mid-leaf 1-1.3 cm wide, slightly keeled; leaflets regular, 24 (in young plants)-60 on each side of the rachis, those on opposite sides of the rachis, depending on climate, and growing conditions, range anywhere from an angle of 45° to 120° with each other, dark green, shiny, the proximal 42-57 x 1.6-2.1 cm, median 51-59 x 1.8-2.3 cm, distal 6-27 x 0.5-1.6 cm, midrib yellowish abaxially, with one or a few ramenta (1-4 mm long) proximally, otherwise glabrous, waxy, midrib and marginal veins prominent, apices acute. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, branched to 3 orders, about 1.5 m long, erect, green; peduncle 59-69 cm long, with dense to sparse minute rusty scales, proximally 4-5 x 1.2-2 cm, distally 1.5-2 x 1-1.2 cm in diam.; prophyll green or glaucous, 44-52 cm long, 3.7-5 cm wide,


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

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Comments and Curiosities

This species is widespread in cultivation, but unknown from the wild: it might be from Madagascar or the Comoro Islands.

D. cabadae is a clustering species that features dark green stems punctuated by nearly-white ringlike leaf scars. Over time it can reach 30 to 40 ft. in height and about 3½ in. in diameter. It became a much-desired alternative to D. lutescens when commercial production started in the 1980s. This palm has followed probably the most curious route of any Dypsis species to reach the United States. Stanley Kiem, now the last surviving founding member of the International Palm Society, brought it to Miami following a trip to Cuba in the 1950s. But it was unknown in Madagascar or nearby islands, where all other members of the species are endemic. Its origin eluded experts until recent years, when it was discovered in the Comoro Islands northwest of Madagascar. But how did D. cabadae get to Cuba in the first place? The best guess is that Dr. Cabada, for whom the palm was named, obtained it for his garden near Cienfuegos from a ship captain whom he had asked to collect palms from his various destinations around the tropics. The conservation status of this species has not yet been assessed for the IUCN Red List. (fairchildgarden.org)

Unusually, John Dransfield and Henk Beentje’s “Palms of Madagascar” tells us little about this palm: habitat, uses, distribution, local names and conservation status are all recorded as 'unknown'. While it has only very recently been rediscovered in the wild in rainforest on the Comoro Islands, it can be seen, albeit rarely, in cultivation in some private and botanic gardens, and should indeed be much more widely cultivated. It is a clustering species with leathery, glossy green leaves, scarlet red fruits, and slim, attractively ringed, slender, blueish green trunks. It requires a tropical or subtropical climate and also make an excellent houseplant when young. (RPS.com)

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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