Dypsis nodifera Mart., Hist. Nat. Palm. 3: 312 (1849)

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  • This is one of the commonest and most widespread of all Madagascar palms, occurring from sea level up to nearly 1500 m. It is a very attractive single-stemmed species with a slender trunk and leaves with strongly grouped leaflets. In fact it appears uncannily like D. pinnatifrons, and, without staminate flowers and/or fruit it is impossible to tell them apart. The two species can also grow in the same habitat and area, to add to the confusion, but generally, the present species is the smaller and more slender of the two. Young seedlings, however, seem to be easily identified (see notes under D. pinnatifrons). The exposed forms of D. nodifera with very narrow leaflets can be strikingly beautiful. D. nodifera is undoubtedly in cultivation, where it will be impossible to distinguish from D. pinnatifrons until it flowers. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A


Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/tdwg/geogrphy.html)
Madagascarpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
NW, E and SE Madagascar. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A


  • Although the generic name was validly published by J.D. Hooker in Bentham & J.D. Hooker, Genera Plantarum 3: 877, 909 (1883), the only species mentioned under Phloga is Dypsis nodifera Mart., and under the Code, Article 33.1, Ex. 2, this does not qualify as a new combination. The species bears an extraordinary resemblance to Dypsis pinnatifrons, but can be distinguished by the six stamens (not three) and the ruminate endosperm (not homogeneous, as in the Dypsis). Plants out in the open often have much narrower leaves, and forms with extremely narrow leaves have been split off as var. stenophylla; we believe this is merely an adaptation to bright light, and there are intermediate forms; therefore, we have relegated this variety to synonymy. The flowers were visited by flies in Dransfield et al. JD6436. Overdorff reports that leaves and fruit are eaten by Lemur fulvus and L. rubriventer. Variability can be quite large locally: in Beentje collections at Betampona several trees standing close together were collected, and inflorescences within this population were branched to two or three orders; the prophyll varied in length from 12 to 33 cm. But Beentje & Dransfield 4808 (Mananara Avaratra: Antanambe, Oct. 1994, y.fr.) is so different that it is only tentatively included here. The rachis is slightly longer, but the leaflets are not as tightly grouped and certainly not ovate; they are also less fanned.
    Note. The author of the combination is often cited as Noronha ex Salomon, even by Salomon himself This is not correct: Salomon is the author of the combination, and Noronha had nothing to do with it.
    Note. The name Phloga polystachya was published as a nomen nudum by Noronha in Prodromus Phytologicus, in Du Petit-Thouars, Mélanges de Botanique et des Voyages (1811); there was no description of any kind, but Noronha gives its local name as "Ou Van"; the same local name for this species was given to HB in 1991 Martius, in 1849, cites Phloga polystachya Noronha MSS as a synonym of his own Dypsis nodifera Mart, and Moore (1963) therefore cited the name as Phloga polystachya Noronha ex Mart Hooker (1887) cited the name Dypsis nodifera Mart under the description of Phloga, but did not make the new combination The first to make the combination under Phloga was Baker (1887); it is curious that Baker also described Dypsis polystachya, with a different type, two pages earlier, but did not compare the two Phloga polystachya is an invalid name, as it is a synonym of Dypsis nodifera. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Biology And Ecology

  • Moist forest, on steep or slight mid slopes, or littoral forest on white sand and then on the flat; alt. 5-1440 m. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A


  • Not threatened. Widespread and common. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Common Name

  • Ovana (Betsimisaraka); Bedoda (Betsimisaraka); Sincaré = probably Tsinkiara, a general name for small palms. Tsirika, Tsingovatra (Betsimisaraka; these are fairly general palm names). (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A


  • Hollowed out stems are used as blowpipes. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A


  • Solitary (but sometimes subcolonial) palm. STEM 2-10 m tall, 1.2-6 cm diam., 1-3 cm diam. near the apex, sometimes procumbent with only the distal part erect; stilt roots sometimes present; internodes 3.5-10 cm long, dull grey to distally red-brown; wood hard; crownshaft pale green with reddish flecks, 25-35 cm long. LEAVES 6-12 in the crown (to 17 and 3-ranked according to Dorr), erect to porrect, slightly arching; sheath 12-30 cm long, 1.5-1.6 cm across, closed, pale green or grey-green, sometimes tinged with pink, with scattered (distally denser) red-purple scales, without obvious ligules or (more often) with dark triangular auricles 0.5-5 cm high; petiole absent or up to 28 cm long, proximally 5-12 x 3-6 mm across, distally 3.5-10 x 2.5-4 mm across, yellow-green, adaxially channelled or flat, less often slightly convex, densely scaly; rachis 24-75 cm long, in mid-leaf 3-5 x 2-3.5 mm, densely scaly on both surfaces but adaxially glabrescent; leaflets (12-) 23-59 on each side of the rachis, in groups of 2-6, the groups at intervals of 5-15 cm, the leaflets within the groups 0.2-0.8 cm apart, twisted and fanned within the groups with their apices pendulous, within the groups the leaflets increasing in size from proximal to distal, often with swellings 2-4 mm across at the insertion point on the rachis, the distal often reflexed towards the leaf base, the proximal 14-35 x 0.1-1.8 cm, the median 12-37 x 1.2-4.5 cm, the distal 6.5-20.5 x 0.4-3.5 cm, proximal and median narrowly ovate, long-acumi-nate, dark green, with 1-7 main veins and minute scattered reddish scales, larger scales on the margins and occasionally some medium-sized (3-4 mm) ramenta in the proximal part, distal pair joined at the base for 0.3-3.3 cm, with 1-5 main veins and dentate narrow apices. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar to infrafoliar, 20-90 cm long, branched to 3 orders, less often to 2 or 4 orders, porrect to arching with pendulous rachillae, protandrous; peduncle (5 -) 13-32 cm long, proximally 10-15 x 5-8 mm across, distally 5-9 x 4-6 mm, densely scaly; prophyll 7-33 cm long, 0.9-3 cm wide, borne at 2-6 cm above the base of the peduncle, glabrous, opening near the apex only; peduncular bract inserted at 4-11 cm from the base of the peduncle, soon deciduous, 12-26 cm long, opening over its entire length except for the 0.5- cm long beak, adaxially rich red-brown, abaxially pale brown with some scattered scales; non-tubular peduncular bract inserted at 12-18 cm from the base of the peduncle, triangular, 0.2-1.8 cm long; rachis (7-) 13-30 cm long, densely scaly but glabrescent, with rachis bracts to 12 x 8 mm, with 8-14 branched and 6-10 unbranched first order branches, the proximal ones basally 5-12 x 3-5 mm across; rachillae (7-) 12-34 cm long, c. 1 mm across, puberulous but glabrescent, with spaced superficial triads; buds red, flowers white, pink or cher-ry-red. STAMINATE FLOWERS with sepals imbricate, 0.8-1.2 x 1-1.6 mm, proximally keeled and gibbous, concave, with ragged membranous margins; petals red, with fleshy apex, 0.8-1.6 x 1.7-2.3 mm, broadly ovate, rounded with small apiculus; stamens 6, didymous, biseriate, with the antepetalous stamens inserted higher up and more central than the antesepalous ones, filaments 0.5-1 x 0.5-0.7 mm and triangular, anthers 0.3-0.4 x 0.5-0.6 mm, the locules dorsifixed, proximally divergent, obtuse, not versatile; pistillode invisible or nearly so. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with sepals 1.2-1.5 x 1.5-1.9 mm, broadly elliptic; petals white, elliptical with broad membranous wings, distally fleshy, 1.4-2.2 x 2-2.5 mm; staminodes six, minute; gynoecium 1-1.5 x 1.3-1.5 mm, asymmetric, the style arms up to 0.6 mm long. FRUIT ellipsoid, green (always?), 8-10 x 5-8 mm, rounded at both ends; endocarp fibrous, with somewhat anastomosing fibres. SEED ellipsoid, c. x 5.5 mm, with rounded ends; endocarp deeply (> 50 %) ruminate. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Materials Examined

  • Ambanja: source of Sambirano R., (fl.), Last anno 1889-1890 (K). Mananara-Avaratra: Antanambe, 1989 (fr.), Morat et al. 8518 (P). Soanierana-Ivongo: Titinga (Tintingue), without date (fl.), Bernier 40 (P); Soanierana to Andasibe, Dec. 1938 (bud), Lam & Meeuse 5859 (L), 5860 (L). Sainte-Marie: Manambo heights, April 1851 (fl.), Boivin s.n. (P); between Tsarahac (?) and Sirambe, Nov. 1850 (bud), Boivin s.n. (P). Ambatondrazaka: Nonokambo, Aug. 1937 (fl.), Herb. Jard. Bot. Tana 2839 (P); Manaka E, April 1961 (fl.), Rakotovao RN 11850 (K, P). Toamasina: Betampona, Oct. 1991 (y.fr.), Beentje 4496 (K), 4497 (K); Tampina, Dec. 1938 (fl.), Lam & Meeuse 6045 (L). Ampasimanolotra: Ambila-Lemaitso, Feb. 1924 (fl.), Perrier 16040 (P); idem, May 1928 (fl.), Decary 6378 (P); 5-9 km S of Ambila-Lemaitso, Nov. 1986 (fl., y.fr.), Dransfield et al. JD6436 (K, P, TAN); idem, March 1988 (fl., fr.), Henderson et al. 759 (K); idem, June 1989 (bud, fr.), Phillipson 1860 (K, P, TAN); idem, Sept. 1991 (fl., fr.), Beentje 4441 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN), 4446 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN). Moramanga: S of Moramanga, Feb. 1930 (fr.), Decary 7143 (P); Mantady, March 1991 (fl.), Beentje & Raharilala 4403 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN), 4405 (BH, K, TAN); idem, Oct. 1993 (fl.), van Nek 2000 (WAG), & (y.fr.) 1997 (WAG); Analamazaotra, Aug. 1862 (fl., y.fr.), Meller s.n. 21.8.1862 (K); idem, July 1938 (fl.), Herb. Jard. Bot. Tana 3778 (K, P); idem, Nov. 1986 (bud), Dransfield et al. JD6414 (K, TAN); Fanovana, May 1968 (bud), Rakotozafy 620 (P); Rahobevava, March 1951 (fl.), Cours 4296 (P). Ambohidratrimo: Ambohidratrimo forest, sine die (bud, y. fr.), Le Myre de Vilers s.n. (P). Manjakandriana: Ambatolaona, Ankeramadinika, June 1962 (bud), Bosser 16139 (K, P) and Jan. 1964 (fr.), Bosser 18983 (P, TAN); E of Ambatolaona, Nov. 1912 (fl., y.fr.), Viguier & Humbert 1250 (P); Andrangaloaka (Andrangalaoka), Nov. 1880 (y.fr.), Hildebrandt 3717 (K, P); idem, (y.fr.), Parker comm. Aug. 1881 (K); Mandraka, Feb. 1985 (fr.), Dorr et al. 3716 (K). Anosibe an Ala: Sandrangato- Anosibe, Nov. 1952 (y.fr.), Capuron & Lerandri 1681 (P). Marolambo: Andasibe, Onive R., Nov. 1914 (bud), Perrier 12076 (P). Mahanoro: 6 km S of Mahanoro, Oct. 1991 (bud, fr.), Beentje 4505 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN). Ambositra: Ambohimitombo, Dec. 1894 (bud), Forsyth Major 603 (K). Ifanadiana: Ranomafana N.P. near Ambatolahy, Dec. 1986 (fr.), Nicoll 207 (K, TAN); idem, Duke Primate Centre, Oct. 1987 (fr.), Overdorff 7 (K, P). Vondrozo: Vondrozo, (fr.), Decary 4854 (K, P, TAN). Amboasary Atsimo: Behara, Feb. 1967 (y.fr.), Serv. For. Mad. 26477 SF (K, P). Tolanaro: Andohahela, Col Tanatana, Dec. 1989 (fl., fr.), Dransfield et al. JD6776 (K, P, TAN); Andohahela, R. Itrotroky, Feb. 1993 (bud), Malcomber et al. 2120 (K, P). (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A


A. J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995
B. World Checklist of Arecaceae