Marojejya darianii J.Dransf. & N.W.Uhl, Principes 28: 151 (1984)

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Introduction

  • Ever since its discovery in 1983 this has been one of the most sought-after of all Madagascar palms. Tales of the presence of a huge entire-leafed palm growing in the hills near Maroantsetra began circulating in the early 1980s, and through dogged persistence Californian palm enthusiast Mardy Darian, with the help of Jean Gerard and Dominique Halleux, tracked it down. JD can remember the excited phone calls from Mardy Darian describing it. The first description that appeared in Principes (Dransfield & Uhl 1984a) was based on fragments and photographs, sent by Mardy Darian. These could not prepare one for the sheer size and beauty of the palm as it grows in a small peat swamp in the hills above Sahavary. This locality is now well known and large quantities of seed have been exported. We do not know of the fate of most of these, but some juvenile plants are growing well in private collections in Queensland, Australia. Although it is so spectacular, Marojejya darianii is undoubtedly a difficult palm to grow for most of us. It is also one of the most threatened palms of Madagascar. We have heard recent rumours of the presence of this palm in forest near Toamasina, but we have seen neither photographs nor material to verify this. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Distribution

Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/tdwg/geogrphy.html)
Madagascarpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Only known from a single site near Maroantsetra. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Biology And Ecology

Conservation

Common Name

Description

  • Solitary, monoecious medium-sized tree palm of great beauty. TRUNK 8-15 m tall, 15-35 cm diam., when young covered in leaf bases and then appearing wider, when older becoming bare with warty lumps, pale grey-brown, very obscurely ringed; internodes short, with scattered short spine-like adventitious roots. LEAVES 20–30 in the crown, stiffly erect, entire, bifid, pinnately ribbed, becoming tattered with age; sheath bright green with 2 conspicuous large rounded auricles, 10–12 cm wide; petiole absent; rachis c. 15 cm wide near base, spongy in texture, abaxially covered in white indument, adaxially glabrous; blade 3.5–5 m, bifid in apical 20–50 cm or sub-praemorse, proximally with margins decurrent into the sheath, gradually widening, 1–1.2 m wide at widest point at 66%, multi-fold, each fold with a distinct midrib and faint veins, margins finely serrate, adaxially glabrous, abaxially with abundant pale floccose scales on ribs, with scattered minute dotlike scales on blade. INFLORESCENCE with peduncle c. 50 cm long; peduncular bract and prophyll membranous. STAMINATE INFLORESCENCE with peduncle distally c. 3 x 2.8 diam.; rachis c. 8 cm long, with c. 35? closely packed erect rachillae; rachilla catkin-like, c. 18–25 cm long, 7–8 mm across, apparently bearing flowers to the tip; bracts c. 2 x 1.75 mm, spirally arranged, congested, horizontally inserted, joined laterally and forming pits c. 2 mm across and deep, the free tips apiculate, distally pointing, the exposed part densely tomentose except at the tip, the tip extending between the staminate flowers; floral bracts minute. STAMINATE FLOWERS c. 3.5 x 2 mm; bract long-acuminate, the acumen c. 1.5 mm long; sepals 1.3–2.4 x 1-1.3 mm, acute, slightly keeled, the margins very finely serrate, 1 sepal usually slightly wider than the others; petals connate at the base for c. 0.8 mm, ± boat-shaped, 1.8–2 x 1.5-1.7 mm; stamens with filaments awl-shaped, long and slender, c. 2–2.5 mm, united at the base with the pistillode, the antesepalous inserted lower than the antepetalous, anthers medifixed, c. 2.5 x 1 mm, latrorse, ± exserted at anthesis; pistillodes 3, irregularly joined, c. 0.75 mm long. PISTILLATE INFLORESCENCE with peduncle c. 50 cm long, ± circular in cross-section, distally 5 x 3.5 cm diam.; bracts not available, but some small (c. 2 x 1.5 cm) non-tubular bracts near the apex of the peduncle; rachis 6–10 cm long, with c. 48 closely set, catkin-like rachillae, most erect but the proximal first spreading and then more distally curving upwards; rachillae ± equal, 10–16 cm long, 0.9–1.3 cm diam., bearing spirally arranged bracts united laterally and basally to form pits; pits c. 4.5 mm across; rachilla bracts triangular, apiculate, c. 3 x 4 mm, at first apparently closing the pit, becoming reflexed; abortive staminate flowers 2, very small, concealed within the pit, lateral to the pistillate, floral bracteoles 2–6, triangular, 2–4 x 2–3.5 mm; sepals (in young fruit) 4–5 x 3.5–4.4 mm; petals (in young fruit) 7–7.5 x 5–6.5 mm; staminodes flat, triangular, ?possibly basally connate for < 0.2 mm, 1.2–1.7 mm high. FRUIT pink when young, turning green and then red, obovoid, to 20–25 x 15–22 mm; endocarp fibrous, the fibres anastomosing and densely set. SEED obovoid, 20–23 x 12–15 x 10–12 mm, the surface covered with deep, broad, mostly longitudinal, anastomosing grooves, with rounded base and obtuse apex; endosperm homogeneous with slight intrusions corresponding to the grooves in the seed-coat; embryo lateral to the hilum. EOPHYLL bifid, epetiolate, with long-decurrent blade margins. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Materials Examined

  • Maroantsetra: Sahavary, anno 1983 (seed), Darian s.n. (Holotype BH; isotype K); idem, Oct. 1986 (fl., yfr.), Dransfield et al. JD6399 (K, P, TAN); idem, Feb. 1988 (fr.), Dransfield et al. JD6452 (K, P, TAN); 10 km N of Sahavary, April 1989 (fr.), Du Puy & Du Puy s.n. (K, TAN). (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A