Masoala madagascariensis

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Masoala (mah-soh-AH-lah)
Marojejy, Masoala, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Masoala (mah-soh-AH-lah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Kase, Hovotralanana, Mandanozezika (Betsimisaraka).

Habitat and Distribution

Madagascar. Marojejy, Masoala and Mananara. Endemic to the northeast of Madagascar where it is known from eight
Photo by Dr.Romer Rabarijaona/Kew.
discontinuous locations between Mahavelona and Marojejy. Lowland rain forest; Occurs in lowland rainforest; grows on dry hillsides and in swampy valley bottoms, occasionally occurs on ultramafic soils. Recorded from alt. 50 up to 700 m.


Solitary palm. TRUNK 3.5-10 m, 30-35 cm in diam. when covered in sheath remnants, 14-20 cm in diam. for clean trunk; internodes 2-5 cm, pale brown; nodal scars faint; wood hard. LEAVES 20-31 per crown, porrect to spreading, held in shuttlecock arrangement, stiff, 3-4 m long, tending to be held on edge, marcescent, litter-accumulating at base, with aerial roots penetrating the litter; sheath 45-50 cm long, open, rather undulate, bright green, glabrous or with scattered brown indument, with large lateral auricles to 2 m long (JD6738) running into the reins or scarcely auricled (JD6770), long-attenuate into glabrous green apparent petiole, to 80 cm long or absent, proximally 25 cm wide, distally 5.5 x 2.5 cm in diam., flat or slightly convex adaxially, with somewhat embedded scattered scales; rachis about 3.9 m long, in mid-leaf about 1.4 x 2.2 cm in diam., keeled, abaxially with scattered small red glands/scales; leaflets mostly regular, plane, stiff, ± porrect, 55-70 on each side of the rachis, bright green, the most proximal pendulous and in groups of 4, proximal 71-117 x 1-4.5 cm, median 65-88 x 2.7-5.6 cm (interval 3-6 cm), distal 28-66 x 2.2-2.8 cm, main veins 4 rather faint, next to a clear midrib, abaxially on the midrib with a few large (6-12 mm long) red-brown laciniate ramenta, and on the minor veins with scattered small red glands, apices attenuate and slightly bifid, the distal pair joined for 3-5 cm and with acute to dentate apices less than 1 cm wide. INFLORESCENCE inter-foliar, arching and then erect, 0.7-1.3 m long, branching to 2 orders at base, with arching rachillae; multiple inflorescence primordia once observed (JD6738); peduncle 50-120 cm long, 2.5-8 x 1.3-4 cm in diam., densely red-pubescent; prophyll 50-98 x 9-16 cm, borne at 8-10 cm above the base of the peduncle, bright pale green, tomentose when young, with scattered brown scales when older; peduncular bract 80-104 cm long, about 8 cm wide, apparently circumscissile, not or hardly beaked, with few scattered scales; non-tubular peduncular bracts at regular intervals, spirally inserted, the proximal 17-22 x 6.5-8 cm, the 4 to 5 subsequent ones 0.5-7 x 3-7 cm and varying from narrowly triangular to a small ridge; rachis about 90 cm long with 15-35 first order branches, these proximally 1.2-3 x 0.6-1.4 cm, with up to 7 second order branches; rachillae (9-) 20-43 cm long, 9-12 mm in diam. when fresh, as little as 6 mm in diam. when dried, glabrous or nearly so, with triads in pits, the young flowers green. STAMINATE FLOWERS with the sepals 2.8-3.8 x 2-3.3 mm, keeled, acute; petals in bud 2.8-5 x 2.6-3.8 mm, fleshy; stamens slightly biseriate (offset 0.3 mm) with the antesepalous filaments flatter and to 0.8 mm wide, and the antesepalous ones triangular in cross-section (to 1.2 mm wide), filaments 1-2 mm long (connate at the base for up to 0.5 mm), anthers 2.3-3.5 x 1-1.2 mm, dorsifixed, with parallel locules, latrorse; pistillode cylindrical, 2.3-3.5 x 0.4-1.2 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with the sepals 5-6.5 x 4.5-7 mm; petals 6-8.5 x 7-9.5 mm; staminodes minute, 6 (no sign of ring), 0.3 mm high and flat; pistil at anthesis 11-18 x 6-10.5 mm, the trifid apex 2-3.5 mm high. FRUIT green when young, when mature yellowish brown, subglobose with pronounced terminal stigmatic boss, 24-25 x 18-19 mm; mesocarp fleshy, 1.5-2 mm thick; endocarp; fibrous, thick, adherent to the seed, forming a hard layer around it, with parallel, free fibers reaching to the apex of the style boss. SEED depressed globose, 10-11 x 12-15 mm with homogeneous endosperm and basal embryo. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


"Warm, sheltered and moist. This is one of the 'holy grail' palms everyone wants to get their hands on... rare and massively wide, exotic palm from Madagascar. There it grows in dense jungles and is known as a litter-trapping palm- wide-spread leaves that catch all the leaf litter from above (presumably for a reason?)... not a tall grower, but is SSOOO slow in cultivation that it's hard to know what its potential is. looks like it will take decades to form a trunk. Solitary pinnate palm." (Geoff Stein)

Comments and Curiosities

Uses: The leaves of this species are used for thatching and for other handicrafts, the palm-heart is edible and fruits have edible nuts. The seeds are also harvested for the international horticultural trade.

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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