Dypsis hildebrandtii

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
hildebrandtii (hild-eh-brantd'-ee)
P1010214 Dypsis hildebrandtii.JPG
Madagascar. Photo Phil Arrowsmith.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
hildebrandtii (hild-eh-brantd'-ee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary & clustering.
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Tsirika (Merina).

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Central Madagascar, in montane rain forest. Montane forest, hill slopes and
Habitat - Madagascar. Photo Phil Arrowsmith.
ridges; usually an alt. between 700-1000 m, rarely as low as 300 m.


Slender, solitary or clustering palmlet of the forest undergrowth. STEMS to about 2 m tall, rarely to 4 m, 3-13 mm in diam., internodes 4-32 mm long, pale to dark green, with a sparse to dense covering of laciniate dark brown scales. LEAVES 4-10 in the crown; sheaths 5-10 x 0.4-1.5 cm, longitudinally striate, sparsely covered in caducous red-brown scales, forming a well-or ill-defined crownshaft, the sheath mouth with two triangular, acute or acuminate auricles to 7 x 6 mm; petiole absent or very short, with the blade somewhat decurrent along its edges, to 30 x 1.5-3 mm, very rarely longer, sparsely brown scaly; rachis 6-30 cm; blade entire bifid or with 2 (or rarely-4) leaflets on each side of the rachis, occasionally leaves of two types borne in the same crown; entire bifid blade 12-21 x 4-9 cm with an apical notch 4-10 cm; leaflets usually broad, 5.5-22 x 1.2-3 cm, occasionally 1-2 slender leaflets at the very base of the rachis, 5-15 x 0.3-0.7 cm; adaxial surface of leaf with minute punctiform scales, abaxial surface with minute punctiform scales, bands of scattered caducous laciniate scales and occasionally with a few ramenta on main veins; emerging leaves tinged reddish, leaves drying dark brown. INFLORESCENCES interfoliar, occasionally also infrafoliar on the same plant, branching to 2 orders; peduncle 10-29 cm long, about 2 mm in cross section, densely brown laciniate hairy in exposed parts; prophyll 10-35 x 0.4-0.8 cm, with scattered grey and brown laciniate scales; peduncular bract similar to the prophyll, usually exceeding the prophyll be about 2-5 cm; rachis 11-33 cm, rarely 6.5-8 cm, densely covered in grey and brown, curled laciniate scales, the rachis and rachillae together ± elongate triangular in outline; rachillae usually numerous, about 20-50 or more, rarely as few as 12, 1.5-4 cm, in populations with few rachillae, the rachillae sometimes longer (to 7 cm), about 0.6 mm in diam., usually diverging at an acute angle and curved towards the tip, covered with pale or dark brown laciniate scales; rachilla bracts c. 3.5 mm apart, rounded, about 0.6 mm, with laciniate margins. STAMINATE FLOWERS rounded, to 1.2 x 1 mm at anthesis; sepals broad triangular, keeled, 0.5 x mm, ciliate-margined; petals about 0.8 x 0.8 mm, striate; stamens 3, antepetalous, with 3 minute staminodes, filaments united in a ring about 0.3 mm high, anthers ± didymous, 0.2 x 0.3 mm; pistillode minute. PISTILLATE FLOWER in young bud globular; sepals broad, ± rounded-triangular, imbricate, striate, 0.8 x 0.7 mm, the margins ciliate; petals about 0.8 x 0.6 mm, imbricate with valvate tips; staminodes 3, minute, dentiform; ovary about 0.4 x 0.3 mm. Mature FRUIT red, 10 x 5.5 mm, ellipsoid to fusiform; mesocarp about 0.4 mm thick; endocarp thin, fibrous. SEED 8 x 3.5 mm; endosperm homogeneous, embryo lateral near the base. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

It is easily distinguishable by its small stature, slender stems, leaves bifid or with two to three (rarely more) broad leaflets and its inflorescence that is branched to two orders and bears numerous very hairy rachillae. The collections from Vatomandry, the lower part of the Mangoro Basin and Ambatovola made by Perrier (the last four collections cited above) differ from typical D. hildebrandtii in having few rather robust rachillae in the inflorescence. They are all from relatively low elevations; however, although they present a rather distinctive facies, we have found no clear distinguishing features. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

Despite having been collected by almost every botanist to visit the forest at Analamazaotra, D. hildebrandtii remains the commonest palm of the forest undergrowth in the montane forest there. The plant cultivated as D. hildebrandtii in Australia illustrated by Stewart (1994) is D. procera. True D. hildebrandtii is cultivated in the Palm House at Kew; it is one of the smallest palms of Madagascar and is altogether a very pretty plant. Occurring as it does in montane forest, one might expect it to be relatively tolerant of cool growing conditions. The species is named for the veteran plant collector, J.M. Hildebrandt (1847-1881). (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Vulnerable. Restricted to the Moramanga area, but probably occurs in the forests more to the south of Anosibe-an-Ala, which are botanically not well known. (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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