Dypsis digitata

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
digitata (dihj'-ih-TAHT-tah)
Madagascar. Photo by Dr. Mijoro Rakotoarinivo.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
digitata (dihj'-ih-TAHT-tah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Bifid rarely pinnate.
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Madagascar. East Coast, between Mananjary and Vangaindrano.
Manombo, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. Henk Beentje, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Lowland rain forest; alt. 45-100 m.


Small solitary palm, occasionally subcolonial (Beentje). STEM very short or 10-40 cm, in Perrier 4512 with roots above the surface, 1-1.5 cm in diam.; internodes 2-6 mm, brown; nodal scars 1-2 mm. LEAVES 7-13 in the crown, erect-arching, often with a few marcescent leaves; sheath 7-13 cm long, 3/4 open, dark reddish with dark scattered scales and ligules 5-10 mm high in young leaves; petiole 5-43 cm long, 1.5-3 mm in diam., pale brown with dense to scattered scales; rachis 4-11 cm long, with scattered scales; blade entire, 23-41 cm long, midrib 4-11 cm, densely hairy, lobes 19-32 x 1.2-2.9 cm or pinnate and then leaflets 2-3 on each side of the rachis, 21-29 x 0.9-2.3 cm (interval 0.6-2 cm), linear, ± equal except that the terminal pair having narrow dentate apices (2-3 teeth only), not acuminate as the more proximal leaflets, main veins 2-4, and often with sinuous transverse veinlets, seemingly glabrous or with scattered scales on the minor veins, or with bands of dense scales on the abaxial surface. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, unbranched, 18-58 cm; peduncle 12-41 cm or more long, densely scaly, 1.5-3.5 mm in diam.; prophyll 3-16 x 0.5-0.8 cm, borne at 0.5-2.5 cm above the base of the peduncle, opening near the apex only for 2-6 cm, dark brown, with dense scales; peduncular bract inserted at 2-15 cm from the base of the peduncle, 10-20 cm long, opening in the distal 1-4 cm, sometimes with a closed beak of about 5 mm long, pale brown with scattered scales; non-tubular peduncular bract sometimes present near the apex of the peduncle, about 2 cm long; rachilla 6-17 cm long, 1.5-2.5 mm in diam., densely puberulous, with very dense, almost continuous triads. STAMINATE FLOWERS with sepals 0.8-1.5 x 0.7-1.6 mm; petals (1.2-1.5 mm in bud) 2.8 x 1.5 mm; stamens 6, ± equal, with filaments about 2.2 mm long and anthers about 1.5 x 0.5 mm, the locules parallel; pistillode about 1.3 x 0.3 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with sepals 1.3-1.8 x 1-2.1 mm; petals 1.8-2.9 x 1.4-2.4 mm; staminodes 0.3-0.7 mm; gynoecium about 1.9 x 1.3 mm. FRUIT red, ovoid or ellipsoid, 11-13 x 5-8 mm, with an obtusely pointed apex; endocarp fibrous, the fibres slightly anastomosing. SEED ellipsoid, 10-10.5 x 5-5.5 mm, pointed at both ends; endosperm homogeneous. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Very distinct; the open leaf sheath is reminiscent of D. brevicaulis. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

This was thought to be extinct until HB refound it in Manombo Forest, the site of several other palms which were thought to be extinct. The Latin name indicates that the leaflets appear to be in the shape of the fingers of a hand, i.e. almost palmate, which is unique among Madagascar undergrowth palms. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Critical. The site of the only recent collection is being destroyed by fire, shifting cultivation and logging. Both the older collection sites are now devoid of forest. (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. 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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