Orania longisquama

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Orania (oh-rahn-EE-ah)
longisquama (lon-jihs-KWAH-mah)
10713794714 389515d2ec k.jpg
Analalava reserve - Foulpointe, Madagascar. "Photo by Olivier Reilhes".
Scientific Classification
Genus: Orania (oh-rahn-EE-ah)
longisquama (lon-jihs-KWAH-mah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Sindro, Anivona, Ovobolafotsy (Betsimisaraka), Vakapasy (Antaimoro).

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Madagascar, mainly on the eastern part of the island facing the Indian
Ambia, Madagascar. Photo by Dr. Henk Beentje, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Ocean. Lowland to highland tropical rain forest 50 - 550 m above sea level. (A.P. Keim and J. Dransfield. 2012)/Palmweb.


Large palm. Trunk 7 - 20 m tall, about 13 - 25 cm in diam. at breast hight, swollen at the base, internodes about 7 - 10 cm, brown, scars irregular, about 3 - 6 cm, brighter coloured, wood extremely hard, yellowish brown, bark pale brown, hard. Leaves 9 - 15 in the crown, spirally arranged, about 3 m long; leaf-sheath about 26 - 40 cm long, 10.5 - 30 cm wide, massive, margins disintegrating into fibres, fibres straight, about 7 - 8 cm long, adaxial surface glabrous, abaxial surface with dense red-brown tomentum; petiole about 1 - 1.2 m long, 2 - 2.5 cm in diam., gradually tapering, sometimes margins disintegrating into fibres; rachis about 1.67 - 2 m long, about 2.5 cm in diam. In the middle part; leaflets elongate-lanceolate, regularly arranged, about 55 - 65 on each side of rachis, the proximal 2 leaflets in a pair, the middle part with 2 leaflets crowded about 2 cm distant, otherwise about 5 cm distant, about 68.5 - 84 cm long, 2.5 - 5 cm wide, adaxial surface with thin white indumentum and wax, thin red-brown tomentum on midrib, midrib robust, other ribs less robust, abaxial surface with dense white indumentum, red-brown tomentum on the midrib and margins, midrib robust, other ribs thicker than adaxial, ramenta present, red-brown, mainly on midrib and sparsely on other ribs. Inflorescence spreading, branching to 3 orders, robust, about 83 - 125 cm long, 45 - 110 cm wide; prophyll persistent, about 28 - 45 cm, 6 - 11 cm wide, hard, disintegrating into fibres when old, adaxial surface glabrous, abaxial surface with dense red-brown tomentum; peduncle massive, about 25 - 40 cm long, about 10 cm in diam. in the middle, with dense red-brown tomentum; peduncular bract one or two, woody, persistent, proximal peduncular bract inserted 13 cm from base, about 55 - 57 cm long, 6 cm wide, adaxial surface glabrous, abaxial surface with dense red-brown tomentum, distal peduncular bract inserted 7 cm from base, about 60 - 95 cm long, 6 - 7.5 cm wide, adaxial surface glabrous, abaxial surface with dense red-brown tomentum, both peduncular bracts splitting in the middle, disintegrating into fibres when old; rachis about 60 - 69 cm long; first order branches 10 - 20, about 5 - 10 cm long, rachilla bracts conspicuous, about 1.2 cm long, 7.5 - 8 mm wide, second order branches about 20, about 1.5 - 3 cm long, rachillae robust, about 24 - 40 cm long, bearing 88 - 143 flower clusters, bearing triads in the proximal 2=3 part, the basal part of 2nd order branch with about 1 - 1.5 cm devoid of flowers, triads about 1.5 - 2 cm distant. Staminate flowers with calyx of 3 united minute sepals; corolla with 3 free petals, about 5 - 7 mm long, 2 - 3 mm wide; stamens about 12 - 18, filaments free, dark brown, about 0.4 - 1.25 mm long, anthers elongate-lanceolate, pale creamy yellow, about 2 - 5 mm long; pistillodes absent. Pistillate flowers with calyx of 3 united sepals, about 1 - 2 mm long; corolla with 3 free petals, about 5 - 7 mm long, 3.5 - 5 mm wide; staminodes 12 - 18, about 1 - 2.5 mm long; gynoecium dark-brown, about 3 - 5 mm long, 3 - 4 mm wide; stigmas 3 elongate, brighter coloured. Fruit globose or bilobed, about 3.5 - 4.5 cm in diam., pale green when young, stigmatic remains sub-basal; endosperm white, with a hollow inside, liquid endosperm said to be sweettasting (see Beentje & Andriampaniry 4730). Embryo placed below middle line of seed. Eophyll bifid. (A.P. Keim and J. Dransfield. 2012)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

The leaf sheath sometimes splits to leave a tongue-like structure, reaching up to the proximal leaflets, producing an apparent petiole. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Prior to this study Dransfield & Beentje (1995) did not include the number and size of pistillate flowers as distinctive characters in their determination key. One of the specimens examined, Beentje 4493, has a structure extending from the leaf-sheath reaching the distal part of the petiole. In some way it is similar to a ligule, but Orania is otherwise not known to have a ligule. Dransfield & Beentje (1995) explained this as the leaf-sheath being split to give a tongue-like structure, reaching up to the proximal leaflets producing an apparent petiole. (A.P. Keim and J. Dransfield. 2012)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10b

Comments and Curiosities

From a distance this palm looks slightly like Ravenea madagascariensis, but on closer inspection can immediately be distinguished by the praemorse leaflet tips. This species can be quite variable in size, from a compact, small palm to a canopy tree.

Conservation: Rare but fairly widespread, though nowhere really common.

Uses: Palm heart not edible or even said to be poisonous; HB (Dr. Henk Beentje) has drunk some fruit sap without any ill effects. Wood used for house walls. Leaves are used for house thatching, trunk for house building. Apex is said to be poisonous. (A.P. Keim and J. Dransfield. 2012)/Palmweb.

Etymology: Etymology: Genus name; Honors the early 19th century Crown Prince of the Netherlands, F.G.L. Willem van Nassau, Prince of Orange. Species name meaning; Long scales, regarding the presence of ramenta.

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).

A.P. Keim and J. Dransfield. 2012. A monograph of the genus Orania (Arecaceae: Oranieae).

J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995. 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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