Vonitra perrieri

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perrieri (pehr-ree-EHR-ee)
Ankirindro, Makira Protected Are, Toamasina, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Vonitra
perrieri (pehr-ree-EHR-ee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Besofina (Betsimisaraka, meaning big ears, because of the large sheath auricles); Menamosona (Betsimisaraka, meaning red back, because of the red tomentum on the sheath and bracts), Kase.

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Madagascar. Marojejy, Masoala and Mananara Avaratra. Moist forest, on
Ambodiriana reserve - Manompana, Madagascar. "Photo by Olivier Reilhes"
steep slopes, near waterfalls on rocks or in valley bottoms; alt. 150-800 m.


Massive, squat solitary palm. TRUNK 2-8 m high, 20-30 cm in diam., near the crown about 12 cm in diam. Trunk with marcescent leaves and persistent bases of leaf sheaths; internodes about 4 cm; nodal scars dotted with fibre remains, about 2 cm wide. Base of crown litter-accu-mulating. LEAVES 12-20 in the crown, porrect; sheath about 1 m long, abaxially densely reddish-tomentose to floccose, turning fibrous and desintegrating with age, with auricles 3-12 cm long; apparent petiole 40-160 cm long, proximally about 5 x 2.5 cm in diam., distally 3-3.5 x 2-2.7 cm, the margins often with a slight wing formed by the rein of the proximal leaflets, deeply channelled with sharp margins, abaxially densely reddish-tomentose to reddish-brown scaly, glabrescent, dark green under the tomentum; rachis about 3-3.5 m long, proximally channelled, in mid-leaf 1.3-1.8 x 2.3 cm in diam., distally keeled, with patches of pale white, pale brown or dark red tomentum of peltate laciniate scales; leaflets 45-50 on each side of the rachis, regular, rigid and plicate, adaxially dark green, abaxially bright green, the proximal 80-148 x 1.2-3.4 cm, the most proximal ones inserted at different levels, median 69-107 x 3-5.5 cm (interval [0.5 -] 4-6.5 cm), distal 21- 60 x 1-3 cm, the distal pair joined for 3-6 cm, main veins 3-7, apices acuminate and unequally bifid, with scattered minute scales on the minor veins, occasionally with large brown or red ramenta 5-15 mm long on the abaxial midrib, once (in the type) with dense silvery hairs on the abaxial midrib. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar to infrafoliar, branched to 2 or 3 orders, spreading to pendulous, to 2 x 1.5 m; peduncle 57->100 cm long, proximally 8-9 x 2.5 cm, distally about 5.5 x 3.5 cm, glabrous in young fruit; prophyll erect, 40-60 cm long, about 5.5 cm wide, borne at about 3 cm above the base of the peduncle, rufous brown, sometimes rotting away early; peduncular bract inserted at about 8 cm from the base of the peduncle, circumscissile and carried upwards by the lengthening inflorescence, woody, 80-150 cm long, 3.5-4 cm in diam., with a 9-10 cm long beak, densely reddish tomentose, splitting over its whole length except for the distal 16-20 cm; non-tubular peduncular bracts in the distal part of the peduncle, 4-5 x 2 cm; rachis 30-40 cm long, glabrous, with 12-25 branched and 10 unbranched first order branches, the proximal of these with a rachis to 36 cm long, up to 2.2 x 1.1 cm in diam. proximally, and with up to 16 second order branches; rachillae spreading or pendulous, 15-50 cm long and 2-6 mm in diam.; triads distant, in slight pits, with a narrow, obtuse rachilla bract. STAMINATE FLOWERS cream, with sepals 1.5-3 x 1.6-3.2 mm, the outermost smallest, proximally gibbous, keeled, ovate, rounded, ciliolate; petals 4-5.2 x 2.8-3.8 mm, elliptic, acute; stamens 6, 2-seriate, the antepetalous more adaxial and inserted slightly higher up, filaments 1.3-2 mm long with slightly triangular bases, anthers 2.3-3.5 x 1-1.6 mm, dorsifixed, versatile, the locules slightly divergent proximally and obtuse or apiculate, slightly unequal, with a wide (-0.8 mm) dark-coloured connective; pistillode conical, 1-1.4 x 0.5-1.1 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with sepals 2.2-4 x 4.5-6.5 mm, concave and enveloping through up to 230°, broadly elliptic, rounded with a fleshy, solid abaxial bulge, ciliolate; petals 5-7.5 x 5-8 mm, concave and enveloping to about 270°, in fruit 9.7-11 mm wide, with membranous margins, broadly elliptic; staminodes 6, flat, triangular, obtuse, 0.8-1.4 mm high; gynoecium asymmetrical, 3.5-4.5 mm x 2.8-4 mm. FRUIT ellipsoid, dull greenish brown, 15-19 x 12-16 mm, rounded or shortly stalked at the base, rounded at the apex; mesocarp up to 2 mm thick; endocarp very fibrous, with few anastomizations. SEED slightly obovoid or ellipsoid, 14-16 x 11-12 mm, pointed at the base, rounded at the apex, with a subbasal depression corresponding to the embryo; endosperm ruminate, with the intrusions dense, irregular, up to 1.3 mm thick but usually about 0.3 mm thick and up to 5.5 mm deep. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Jumelle (1928) described this as a new genus, based on the sagittate anthers and the very fibrous endocarp of the fruit. On examining the type the first character is not correct - the locules are parallel. The second character is more difficult to evaluate, since there are no fruits present in the type. The types of C. auriculatus and C. ruber are clearly conspecific; the fruit mentioned in the protologue of Chrysalidocarpus auriculatus are of doubtful provenance - they have homogeneous endosperm, so they are unlikely to belong to D. perrieri. These fruits were the reason why the taxon was included in Chrysalidocarpus; but they are not present on the P sheets of this number. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness zone 10a

Comments and Curiosities

Conservation: Vulnerable. Despite its fairly large distribution area, this species is not common in any of its sites; the fact that the palmheart is eaten is a contributing factor to its status. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Uses: Good palm-heart.

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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