Dypsis coursii

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Dypsis (DIP-sis)
coursii (kohrs'-ee)
Beanivona, Makira Protected Area, Toamasina, Madagascar, photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Dypsis (DIP-sis)
coursii (kohrs'-ee)
Was known as Dypsis marojejyi
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Madagascar. Only known from the Marojejy area. Moist montane forest or
Beanivona, Makira Protected Area, Toamasina, Madagascar, photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
dense sclerophyll forest on ridges; on gneiss and quartzite, alt. (400-) 900-1850 m.


Solitary palm. STEM 2-8 m, 8-18 cm in diam., near the apex about 2.2 cm in diam. LEAVES about 4 in the crown; sheath 18-36 x 9 cm, with dense reddish tomentum and wax, and with triangular auricles to 5 x 3 cm; petiole 4-27 cm long, 1.1-1.3 x 0.3-0.7 cm in diam., with few scattered scales; rachis 0.4-1 m long (Humbert 23159: leaves 2 m long), in mid-leaf 0.6-1 x 0.4 cm in diam., with scattered scales; leaflets 35-39 on each side of the rachis, in groups of pairs proximally, in 2-7 medially (group interval 2.2-7 cm), the proximal 10-29 x 0.2-1.2 cm, median 12-34 x 1.6-3.5 cm (interval 0.7-1.2 cm), distal 6-17 x 0.4-2.2 cm, main veins 1-5, and thickened margins, ramenta few or none, plus red scattered scales on midrib and veins, apex acute, unequally bifid. INFLORESCENCE infrafoliar, pendulous, branching to (1-) 2 orders; peduncle 23-70 cm, 5-10 x 2-4 mm in diam., with dense to few scattered scales; prophyll 12-26 cm long, borne at 1-6 cm above the base of the peduncle, 1.6-2 cm wide; peduncular bract inserted at 2-17 cm, deciduous, 24 cm long; sterile bract inserted at 19-25 cm, 0.2-3 x 0.6-3 cm; rachis 19-36 cm, glabrous or nearly so, with 6 branched (first order rachis to 20 cm, proximally to 8 x 4 mm diam., with up to 9 rachillae) and 8-22 unbranched first order branches; rachis bracts to 3 mm; rachillae 1-27 cm, 1.2-3 mm in diam., glabrous; triads distant, superficial; rachilla bract about 1 mm, obtuse. STAMINATE FLOWERS yellowish; sepals 1.5-1.6 x 1.3-1.8 mm; petals 2.7-3 x 1.6-2 mm; stamens 6, uniseriate, filaments 1.6-2.8 mm long with triangular base and cylindrical distal half, anthers 1.2-1.6 x 0.6-0.9 mm; pistillode 0.6-1 mm high, 0.4-0.6 mm in diam. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with sepals 1.7-2.8 x 1.5-3.9 mm; petals 4-5 x 2.5-5.5 mm; staminodes 0.3-0.8 mm long; ovary 2.5-3 mm high, 0.9-1.5 mm in diam. FRUIT ellipsoid or slightly obovoid, 20-35 x 15-25 mm, pointed at the base, rounded at the apex; endocarp flaky. SEED obovoid, about 25 x 13-17 mm, pointed at the base, rounded at the apex, the surface slightly channelled, with a sub-basal or lateral depression; endosperm ruminate, the ruminations many, 2-7 mm deep. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Distinct by its short, wide trunk, the distant groups of densely set leaflets, and large ruminate fruits. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.


Prefers a climate that is void of excessive heat. Hot summer temperatures will kill this plant very quickly, as many people in South Florida and inland areas of California have found out. Dosen't seem to mind staying on the dry side during cool periods, possibly a trick to keeping them from rotting out when young.

Will not even grow in pots Florida, is so highly susceptible to fungi; esp. root borne fungi, that after 24 months or so, they succumb to them. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

PFC for PP.png

Comments and Curiosities

A curious montane species, with a short, wide trunk. The name refers to one of the collectors, G. Cours, who made many good palm collections between 1939 and 1952. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Vulnerable. Distribution area small, but protected. Numbers unknown, but thought to be low. (J. Dransfield and H. Beentje. 1995)/Palmweb.

First collected in 1959 on the Marojejy massif in northeastern Madagascar, this spectacular palm remained in obscurity until it was rediscovered in the late 1980's and formally described as recently as 1995. Independent of that it was introduced into cultivation called the "Madagascar foxtail", as which it has attained an almost mythical status among palm collectors. As far as plants in cultivation are concerned, there has been much confusion about this palm and a similar and closely related species from Madagascar, D. marojejyi. In its native habitat in submontane rainforest on broad mountain ridges between 700 and 1100 m (2300 and 3600 ft.), it appears as a slightly odd, somewhat messy species whose ascending crown of plumose leaves collects leaf litter from surrounding trees. Nevertheless, it cleans up exceedingly well and has huge potential as a cultivated plant, sporting beautiful reddish-brown leafbases, a relatively short but robust trunk and bronzy new leaf with wide, grouped leaflets that have neatly curled tips. It is one of the more difficult to propagate palms from Madagascar. Wild collected seeds have a relatively low germination rate and seedlings are prone to damping off, so preventative treatment with a fungicide may be advised. (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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