Dypsis eriostachys

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
Madagascar. Photo by Dr. Mijoro Rakotoarinivo.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Silk Palm

Habitat and Distribution

Madagascar, Mananjary: Vatovavy. Only known from Vatovavy. Gentle slope in low canopy forest
Madagascar. Photo by Jeff Searle, Searle brothers Nursery, FL.
near summit of hill; 450 m. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Slender solitary undergrowth palm, to 1.5 m tall. STEM 9 mm in diam., internodes 13-17 mm long, dark green with pale brown lines, with scattered dark brown caducous scales. LEAVES 10 in the crown; sheath 8 x 1.7 cm, distally very densely covered with thick red brown tomentum and scales; auricles ill defined; petiole 1-3 cm, 3 mm wide, densely grey or brown hairy; rachis 23-25 cm; blade entire bifid 32-37 cm long, gradually widening from the base to widest at the tip where 11-13 cm, the two lobes with a broad sinus, and shallowly to deeply lobed apically, adaxially shining, with very inconspicuous punctiform scales, abaxially with minute brown punctiform scales and scattered elongate brown ramenta along a few veins, emerging leaf tinged reddish. INFLORESCENCE erect or spreading, becoming pendulous in fruit, branching to 2 orders; peduncle 25-28 cm long, about 4 mm wide at the base tapering to 3 mm in diam. distally, densely covered with long silky silvery hairs with brown bases; prophyll about 14 x 0.7 cm, with scattered long silky silvery hairs with dark bases; peduncular bract exceeding the prophyll by 8-16 cm; rachis 16-24 cm, very densely silky hairy; rachillae about 30, about 3- 5.5 cm long, about 1.5 mm in diam., densely covered in pale brown and silvery silky hairs, triads about 3 mm apart, rachilla bracts rounded, about 0.5 mm high, laciniate, edged with hairs. STAMINATE FLOWER buds pyramidal, 1.6 x 1.1 mm; sepals rounded, 1.0 x 0.8 mm, margins somewhat erose; petals triangular, 1.3 x 0.8 mm, striate; stamens 6, biseriate, antesepalous with filaments to 0.2 x 0.2 mm, antepetalous with filaments 0.4 x 0.2 mm, anthers elliptic in outline, 0.4 x 0.3 mm; pistillode conical, 0.4 mm high. Immature PISTILLATE FLOWER rounded, about 0.8 mm in diam. Submature FRUIT fusiform, 16 x 6 mm. SEED fusiform, 1.2 x 4.5 mm; endosperm homogeneous; embryo basal. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Initially we identified this palm as Dypsis lanuginosa, previously known only from a single specimen. On closer examination, however, the newly collected material proved to have six stamens rather than three, and other features such as the long silky more or less straight, rather than twisted, hairs, fewer rachillae, with more distant triads, and the presence of elongate ramenta on the undersurface of the leaf, added evidence that the present species was undescribed. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Warm, sheltered and moist. Easily grown in tropical, as well as sub-tropical areas. Will tolerate temperatures down to 2.C for shot periods but prefers to be in temperatures 15.C to 30.C for the best growth and vigour. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

This handsome little palm, distinctive in its entire-bifid leaf and silky hairy inflorescence, is known only from low crown forest near the summit of the isolated peak of Mount Vatovavy, southwest of Mananjary. The forest on Vatovavy is home for several curious palms, such as Dypsis basilonga, D. trapezoidea and D. angusta. The lower parts of the hill have been largely cleared for shifting cultivation and parts of the exposed northeastern face have at some time been partially destroyed by fire. Nevertheless much of the summit area is covered with fine forest that receives some degree of protection under local beliefs or fady. The species name is Greek for woolly spikes, referring to the hairy inflorescences. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Endangered. Single site status; forest only protected by local custom. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Critically endangered due to habitat loss, and plant and seed collecting. It is estimated there are less than 50 individuals left in the wild. It is however, well established in cultivation. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

A solitary dwarf Dypsis from moist forest in central eastern Madagascar that sports a thin cane, a scaly, red brown crownshaft topped by a small crown of entire, bifid leaves. The inflorescence is covered in fine, silky hairs. A pretty palm for the understorey in the tropical and warm subtropical garden. (RPS.com)

With entire leaves and thin trunk this Dypsis looks best planted in a group, quite easy to grow in the subtropics and would do well as a pot plant further south. This species is best suited to the tropics but will grow in a well protected area in the subtropics in a frost-free area; it’s a small solitary species only growing to just over 1.5m tall and has a new pinkish emergent leaf, the stem is green like bamboo and very attractive, this species would look good group planted, growing this species in the subtropics is not easy and I would only recommend this species for the collectors or those with experience growing tropical plants. (Utopia Palms & Cycads)

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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