Ravenea musicalis

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Ravenea (rah-vehn-EH-ah)
musicalis (moo-sih-CAHL-iss)
Ravenea musicalis08.jpg
Habitat, Madagascar. Photo by Phil Arrowsmith.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Ravenea (rah-vehn-EH-ah)
musicalis (moo-sih-CAHL-iss)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Height: 10m
Watering: Very Moist
Survivability index
Common names
Torendriky ("submerged trunk").

Habitat and Distribution

South Madagascar, only known from one site. At 0.5-2.5 m depth in flowing water;
Habitat, Madagascar. Photo by Phil Arrowsmith.
seen as a rheophyte on submerged rock pavement, then sterile and to 1 m only; 1-50 m. This palms grows in streams.


Ravenea musicalis is a single-stemmed, evergreen palm tree growing up to 8 metres tall. The unbranched stem can be 30 - 40cm in diameter, it is topped by a crown of 14 - 16 leaves that can be up to 1.8 metres long. (Ken Fern)

Small to medium-sized ventricose palm growing in 0.5-2.5 m deep water. TRUNK 2.5-8 m high, ventricose with base (at water level) to 50 cm across, (above water) 30-40 cm in diam., near the crown about 11 cm across, internodes here 0.5 cm, nodal scars 0.5 cm; bark pale brown, soft, with internodes 1-2 cm; wood soft, cream-coloured, fibrous, without hard fibres. LEAVES 14-16 in the crown, porrect to spreading, arching, held on edge in distal half, with stiff or arching leaflets; sheath 36-41 x 13-20 cm, adaxially orange, abaxially proximally orange, distally green, with thin grey tomentum; fibres few; petiole 15-19 cm long, proximally 3.5-5 x 1.5 across, distally 2.2-2.3 x 0.5-0.6 cm across, glabrous, keeled; rachis 1.3-1.8 m, in mid-leaf 1-1.5 cm across, with little abaxial tomentum; leaflets in one plane, stiff, 59-63 on each side of the rachis, the proximal 36-47 x 0.5-1.5 cm, median 42-53 x 1.6-2.4 cm (interval 2-2.5 cm), distal 10-30 x 0.4-1.3 cm, ramenta none or few, large, basal on midrib and outer main veins, main veins 4. STAMINATE INFLORESCENCE multiple in 5s, the individual inflorescences to 115 cm, branched to 1 order, pendulous in later stage; peduncle 36-38 cm, proximally c. 1 cm across, distally 0.6-0.7 cm across; prophyll 29-30 cm; peduncular bracts 38 cm, 64 cm (inserted at about 2 cm from the base of the peduncle), 84 cm (inserted at about 5 cm), 80 cm (inserted at about 10 cm); rachis about 54 cm, with many dense rachillae; rachillae 7-24 cm, 1-1.5 mm across; flower scars distant. STAMINATE FLOWERS unknown. PISTILLATE INFLORESCENCE solitary, spreading, 105-125 cm, branched to 1 order, the axes green; peduncle 48-52 cm, proximally 3-5 x 2-2.5 cm, distally 2-3 x 1.3-2 cm; prophyll about 10 x 4 cm; peduncular bracts 20-24 cm (inserted at 0 -2.5 cm from the base of the peduncle), 49-52 cm (inserted at 3-3.5 cm), 82-83 cm (inserted at 4-9 cm), 100-103 cm (inserted at 10-24 cm); rachis 39-55 cm, with 58-68 branches; rachillae 9-42 cm, the proximal spreading, the distal porrect, the base proximally flat, 0.6-1.5 x 1 cm, in fruit 3 -3.5 mm across; pedicels c. 0.5 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with the calyx connate for 1 mm, 1.5 mm wide, free lobes 1.7-2.6 x 1.6-2 mm, ovate, acute; petals in fruit only present as fibre remnants, about 2.5 mm long. FRUIT orange, 17-23 x 14-19 mm, one-seeded; stigmatic remnants subapical to lateral. SEED brown, 10-14 mm across, hard, seedcoat black, 0.2 mm thick. SEEDLING with 3-4 scale leaves, the first small, the second, third and fourth to 9 cm long and with curving tips; eophyll pinnate. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Differs from all other species of Ravenea in its habitat and habit, its extraordinary floating fruit with its spongy mesocarp, splitting at the slightest provocation and then exposing the already germinating seed, the number of its scale leaves on the seedling, and the lack of hard fibres in the outer wood. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


"Seeds are hard to come by, and the plant is very difficult to grow, with few plants surviving past the small seedling stage. It needs non-stagnant water, and is very cold sensitive." (Phil Arrowsmith)

"This is one of the few palms that needs to grow in water. Its seeds fall into streams where they germinate and palms remain totally submerged as seedlings until they finally are large enough to pop their crowns out of the water. Madagascan native. Many have tried this in So Cal in their ponds... no luck so far. (Geoff Stein)

Comments and Curiosities

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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