Masoala kona

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Masoala (mah-soh-AH-lah)
kona (KOH-nah)
Madagascar. Photo by Dr. M. Rakotoariniv 11 2014.jpg
Fianarantsoa, MG, AF, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. M. Rakotoarinivo/Kew.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Masoala (mah-soh-AH-lah)
kona (KOH-nah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Kona, kogne (Tanala) (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)

Habitat and Distribution

Madagascar. Endemic to southeast Madagascar where it ocurs between Vondrozo and
Fianarantsoa, MG, AF, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. Mijoro Rakotoarinivo/Kew.
Ifanadiana. Mid-altitude low-canopy rain forest; occurs in mid-altitude (300 to 700 m) grows on steep to gentle slopes, near ridge crests, or in swampy valley bottoms on sandy/quartz soils. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)


Solitary palm. TRUNK 1.2-9 m, the whole or in older trees the upper part with persistent leaf bases, about 35 cm in diam. when covered in old leaf bases, 13-20 cm in diam. when bare; internodes 1-2 cm long, dark brown, nodal scars 1-2 cm high; wood hard. LEAVES spirally arranged, marcescent, 13-17 living ones in the crown, erect, plus 5-15 dead ones; sheath litter-accumulating, about 28 x 24 cm, abaxially yellow-brown to red-brown with dense red-brown tomentum, adaxially yellow-brown; auricles and petiole absent, though an apparent petiole of up to 30 cm may be present; proximal part of leaf litter-accumulating; rachis 2.8-4.5 m long, proximally 3-4.6 x 1-3 cm in diam. and channelled with a central ridge, in mid-leaf about 1.5 cm wide and keeled, with scattered scales abaxially; leaflets 6-15 on each side of the rachis, the proximal large and multi-fold, 165-250 x 13-24 cm and attached to the rachis for up to 1.5 m, the more distal ones irregularly alternating between thin single-fold and wide multi-fold leaflets, 73-130 x 2.5-16 cm (interval 6-12 cm), distal pair 55-88 x 4-16 cm, connate for 8-18 cm, main veins 3-5 in single-fold leaflets, with scattered scales on minor veins, apices in distal pair long-dentate over 1.5-4 cm, in others acute. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, erect, 0.7-1.2 m long, branching to 1 or 2 order(s), possibly occasionally multiple (personal observation under difficult circumstances, HB 4437), protogynous (HB 4525); peduncle 22-56 cm long, 2.2-3 x 1.3-2.2 cm in diam., with dense red-brown scales; prophyll about 32 cm long, about 9 cm wide, with scattered scales; peduncular bracts 3 (always?) 20-62 cm long, 7-8 cm wide, with dense red-brown scales and a beak of up to 2 cm, the most proximal inserted only a few mm from the base of the peduncle and sub-woody; rachis 27-30 cm long, with 0-3 branched and about 10 unbranched first order branches; rachillae dark brown, 22-60 cm long, with pistillate flowers occupying the proximal half to two-thirds of its length and single or paired staminate flowers the distal part; the interface between the two sexes mixed, not sharp, and occasionally with some triads here; also most pistillate buds at an early stage appearing to be flanked by staminate buds which later abort. STAMINATE FLOWERS yellow, the sepals 4.5-5.5 x 2.8-3.8 mm, keeled, acute, with ragged edges; petals connate for 2-3.3 mm, free parts 5-6 x 3.2-4.6 mm, with fleshy and thickened proximal margins; stamens and pistil connate for the proximal 2-3 mm with the petals; stamens equal, the filaments 2.2-3 x 1.2-1.3 mm, fleshy with wider base, angular, anthers 3-3.7 x 1.2-1.4 mm, dorsifixed, latrorse, slightly versatile, the locules slightly divergent; pistillode 4.5-5 x 1.5-1.6 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with 4 bracts, 2.8-6 x 3-6 mm; between innermost bracts and sepals there is a ring of up to 2 mm high, thin, ?glandular hairs; sepals 7-10 x 5.5-7.5 mm, not keeled; petals 11-18 x 6-14 mm, with laciniate margins; staminodes 6, connate for the proximal 0.1-0.3 mm, triangular and flat, 0.6-1 mm high; ovary 12-15 x 5-6 mm, trifid for about 3 mm, the inner surfaces papillose. FRUIT only seen empty, ellipsoid, 25-40 x 12-14 mm, topped by the persistent style/stigma mass. EOPHYLL deeply bifid; scale leaves two. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b+

Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: Genus name; for the Masoala Peninsula in Madagascar, where M. madagascariensis is native. The specific epithet; from the aboriginal name for this species.

A new species with a leaf resembling that of Marojejya insignis, but in the inflorescence clearly congeneric with Masoala madagascariensis, though it is much smaller than that species. The name derives from the local name for this plant. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Rakotoarinivo, M. & Dransfield, J. 2012. Masoala kona. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: Endangered. The population size is small with fewer than 60 trees known across the three sites in the wild. The population is probably decreasing because of impacts to the habitat. None of the sub-populations occur in a protected area. Conservation action is needed to secure some of the sites to ensure the survival of this species in the wild. The main threat to this species is habitat loss through clearance for shifting agriculture and logging. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Uses: A leaf of this taxon, when stuck in a bamboo pole is thought by some to ward off thunder-clouds. (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, 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).

J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 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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