Ravenea hildebrandtii

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Ravenea (rah-vehn-EH-ah)
hildebrandtii (hill-deh-brand'-tee)
Ravenea hildebrandtii inflorescence.jpg
J.D. Andersens Nursery, Hawaii. Photo by Paul Craft.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Ravenea (rah-vehn-EH-ah)
hildebrandtii (hill-deh-brand'-tee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Dwarf Majesty Palm. Inazi (fide St John) which sounds suspiciously like Mnazi, the Swahili name for coconut.

Habitat and Distribution

Comoros Islands: Grand Comore, Moheli, Anjouan. Moist forest at altitudes of 600-900 m.
R. hildebrandtii 1.jpg
Once reported from riverine forest at this altitude. Ravenea hildebrandtii originated in the Comoros Islands, off the coast of Madagascar.


This smaller compact palm is one that should be used much more in the suburban landscape. It will rarely attain a height of over 8 ft. with a 4-6 in. diameter trunk. Always carrying a full head of leaves, it begins flowering at a young age.

Slender undergrowth palm, sometimes flowering when almost acaulescent. TRUNK 1-6 (-12) m high, usually less than 4 m. 5-6 cm. in diam. Trunk swollen at base, to 10 cm in diam.; internodes short, hardly visible in older stems; bark grey-brown, smooth, in older trees somewhat fissured longitudinally. LEAVES 12-25 in the crown, arching; sheath about 14.5 x 5 cm, the margins sparsely or hardly fibrous, densely tomentous abaxially, the tomentum white, later turning pale brown; petiole 28-50 cm long, 0.7-1 cm wide proximally, 6-11 mm distally, adaxially deeply channelled, glabrous, abaxially rounded and densely brown-tomentose or short-pubescent, with sharp edges; rachis 48-99 cm long, in mid-leaf 5-7 mm wide, adaxially shallowly grooved proximally, changing to keeled (keel to 5 mm wide) to angled distally, laterally grooved, sparsely tomentose or pubescent; leaflets on opposite sides of the rachis probably at an angle of 160° with each other, 20-43 on each side of the rachis, dark olive green on both surfaces, linear, acuminate, the basal ones 8-28 x 0.2-1.2 cm, the median ones 27-45.5 x 1-2 cm (interval 2-3.2 cm), the distal ones 7.5-37 x 0.7-1.9 cm, the distal pair sometimes slightly connate at the base, midrib with few to many small, pale, tattered, rounded ramenta abaxially along its whole length (always?), main veins faint, 2-4. STAMINATE INFLORESCENCES solitary (though St.John 26543 states "2 per axil"), branched to 1 order (at the base to 2 orders in St.John 26543); peduncle very slender, 17-35 cm long, 2-4 mm. in diam. both proximally and distally, rounded in cross-section, tomentose, glabrescent; prophyll 5-7.5 x 1-1.7 cm, rounded at apex, membranous, tending to tatter irregularly, abaxially with scattered soft brown tomentum; peduncular bracts about 10.5 cm, 20.5 cm, c.57 cm, 57-60 x 2 cm (all measured from base of peduncle), the proximal pair membranous; distal pair distally ± keeled, thick, coriaceous to almost woody, adaxially glabrous, abaxially densely pale grey to pale brown tomentose; non-tubular peduncular bracts 0.9-4 x 0.15-0.3 cm; rachis 10-34 cm, with 33-45 rather crowded, spirally arranged, slender rachillae; rachis bracts 10-45 x 2-3 mm; rachillae 2.4-10 cm long, 0.7-1.2 mm in diam., bearing spiral or subdistichous solitary flowers; pedicels 0.25-0.75 mm long.


While fairly cold hardy (to 28 F), an exposure with full hot sun may be too much. They seem to tolerate "normal" sun, but look best if protected from the hotter drying sun of some locations.

PFC for PP.png

Comments and Curiosities

This is a dioecious genus.

One of the smallest Ravenea species. In Victorian times this was a popular species for indoor cultivation in Europe.

Etymology: The specific epithet honours the collector of the type, J.M. Hildebrandt (1847-1881).

Conservation: Endangered. All forest in the Comoros Islands is under severe threat. This species has not been collected for a long time. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

This dwarf Ravenea is probably one of the most searched-after of all palms, native only to the Comoro Islands. We are proud to now have this exceedingly rare seed available, this time collected from Grande Comore Island, which is the type locality. (RPS.com)

This is a tillering palm, it exhibits saxophone style root growth (it has a heel), keep top third of heel above soil elevation!

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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