Chrysalidocarpus saintelucei

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"Saint-Luce Palm"

saintelucei (saint-LOO-seh)
Pinecrest FL. Photo by Jeff Cramer.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Chrysalidocarpus
saintelucei (saint-LOO-seh)
Dypsis sp. 'Laffa' was 'Dwarf form'
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary, but may cluster.
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Telopoloamvilany (local name).

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Madagascar. Only known from the Sainte-Luce forest in the extreme South-East
Floribunda, Hawaii. Photo by Steve Piercy.
of the island. Coastal forest on white sand; 10-20 m. elev.


A medium sized solitary palm, occasionally in clusters of 2-3. TRUNK 6-10 m., about 14 cm. in diam.; internodes 3-5 cm. long, grey, green more distally; nodal scars 1.6 cm. high, whitish; wood very hard, red; crownshaft waxy green. LEAVES tristichous, 7-11 per crown, erect, slightly arching distally; sheath about 80 cm., 12 cm. in diam., closed, waxy pale green, smooth, with brown-tattering shoul ders; petiole absent or up to 13 cm. long, 2-2.5 x 2-2.5 cm. in diam., channelled with sharp edges, green, glabrous; rachis 2.3-2.4 m. long, proximally deeply channelled and 4 x 3 cm., more distally keeled, green, in mid-leaf 1.5-2.3 cm. wide, proximally with thin grey wax or scales, distally glabrous; leaflets 59-61 on each side of the rachis, regular, stiff, pale waxy green abaxially, the proximal 116-134 (-188) x 2.2-3.5 cm. (16 cm. apart, the most proximal often pendulous), median 90-104 x 3-3.7 cm. (interval 2.5-4 cm.), distal 15-40 x 1-2.2 cm/, main veins 1, only the midrib prominent on both surfaces with large distant brown ramenta, the other veins faint and with densely set small red-brown glands, apices attenuate, unequally bifid. INFLORESCENCE solitary, interfoliar at anthesis, erect within sheath, 175-225 cm., branched to 3 orders; peduncle 89 -138 cm., proximally 6-10 x 2-2.5 cm. and convex abaxially, concave adaxially, distally about 7.5 x 4 cm. in diam., glabrous; prophyll 100-130 cm., borne at 30-56 cm. above the base of the peduncle, about 9 cm. wide, glabrous; peduncular bract 68-73 cm., closed in the distal 6 cm., beaked for about 2 cm., inserted at 61-97 cm., abaxially pale waxy green, adaxially chestnut-brown; rachis 70-87 cm., green, glabrous, with 17 branched and 11-20 unbranched first order branches; rachillae 16-27 cm., green, glabrous, about 5 mm. in diam.; triads distant, superficial, with low, rounded bract. STAMINATE FLOWERS slightly scented; sepals 1.8-2.5 x 2.2-2.9 mm., keeled, gibbous, broadly ovate, concave, the broad margins membranous; petals yellow, connate for 1-1.6 mm. to the receptacle, free lobes 2.9-3.5 x 3-3.2 mm., ovate, acute, with adaxially and proximally with 2 swellings on each side of the base of the antepetalous stamen; stamens 6, uniseriate, filaments 3.8-4.4 mm/. long, connate at the very base for c. 0.3 mm., anthers 2.4-2.5 x 1 mm.; pistillode columnar, 1.8-2.3 x 1.4-1.6 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS only known in bud, with sepals 2.6- 2.8 x 3.3-3.4 mm., ciliolate; petals about 2.2 x 2.5 mm.; staminodes 6, 0.4-0.6 mm.; ovary asymmetrical, about 2.3 x 2.3 mm. FRUIT not known, but for seed and endocarp found under Beentje & Andriampaniry 4609; endocarp fibrous. SEED ellipsoid, 11.5-13 x 7 mm., rounded at one end, pointed at the other; endosperm deeply ruminate. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

In its group of large tristichous palms with regular leaflets and ruminate endosperm, closest to D. ampasindavae but distinct in the closed leaf sheath, and the interfoliar inflorescence, resulting in long peduncles and very long bracts. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Sunny, moist, but well drained position. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

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Comments and Curiosities

A medium-sized, elegant palm which would probably do well in cultivation. It occurs on white sand, and so would probably do well in the drier tropics; the habitat is that of D. lutescens, one of the most successful ornamental palms (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Critical. Only known from a single forest, with numbers less than fifty; this is right in the middle of the area where mining operations for mineral sand (ilmenite ore) are proposed. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

D. saintelucei is another Malagasy palm that occurs in white sand. It is found only in four sites in a coastal forest of extreme southeastern Madagascar. Normally a single-trunked species, it sometimes produces two or three stems. Crownshafts are waxy green in color. Maximum height is in the 20 to 33 ft. range, and diameter is about 5½ in. Leaves are tristichous and have no petiole. When D. saintelucei was last assessed, there were fewer than 300 individuals left in the wild. Its IUCN Red List conservation status is Endangered, with a decreasing population trend. (

External Links


Edit by João Santos Costa Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, 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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