Dypsis commersoniana (Baill.) Beentje & J.Dransf., Palms Madagascar : 236 (1995)

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  • A little known species from the southern lowland rain forests. The name refers to the collector of the type, Philibert Commerson (1727-1773), who collected in Madagascar in 1770-1771. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, 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
SE Madagascar. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A


  • Baillon (1894b) described only the genus Neophloga, without giving a specific name; he cites the specimen Commerson s.n., "palmula microcarpa caudice sesquipedala" from Madagascar, and his genus description leaves no doubt that he is describing a true member of the Dypsidinae. Baillon states that Martius saw this plant, and thought it identical to Hyophorbe indica Gaertn. Baillon also states that it is distinct from Hyophorbe, closer to, but different from, Dypsis and distinct from Areca lutescens of Bory (which was, again, a Hyophorbe). We have seen the Commerson type in Paris (which is annotated by both Baillon and Beccari), and we can confirm that the Baillon description was drawn up based on it.
    In Baillon (1895) the genus description is repeated
    with a footnote mentioning the binomial Neophloga commersoniana H.Bn.; in its synonymy are mentioned Hyophorbe commersoniana Mart. and H. indica Mart. The inclusion of these synonyms gave Pichi-Sermolli (1956) reason to believe that the name Neophloga commersoniana should be cited as "(Mart.) Baill." and that though the genus description was truly about Neophloga, the species mentioned was in reality a Hyophorbe. We believe this is erroneous. If Baillon based his genus description on the Commerson collection from Madagascar ("palmula microcarpa caudice sesquipedala"), then his naming this species Neophloga commersoniana in his 1895 work is logical. The fact that Baillon thought that Hyophorbe commersoniana of Martius was identical (which it was not), does not matter; the Neophloga description is based on true Dypsid material, and so is the name Neophloga commersoniana Baill. Curiously enough, the species is not treated in Jumelle's 1929 revision of Neophloga; he mentions the species (p. 12) but fails to include it in his key, and there is no description; probably the lack of bracts in the type made Jumelle hesitate about it being a Neophloga as he saw the genus. It is, however, treated in the Flora (Jumelle & Perrier 1945), but it might have been included by Perrier, who edited this volume after Jumelle's death. Close to D. humbertii (which might be the same as this species) and D. scottiana, which is distinct by much shorter rachillae. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Biology And Ecology

  • Lowland rain forest; c. 120 m. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A


  • Critical. The distribution area is small, and under severe pressure by an expanding population. Nearly all lowland rain forest in the area has now been cleared. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Common Name

  • Not recorded. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A


  • Not recorded. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A


  • Clustering palm. STEMS 1.8-5 m tall. LEAVES irregularly pinnate; sheaths only known from their distal part, with rounded shoulders and a few scattered scales; petiole 5-21 cm long, 2.5-3 mm diam., flat adaxially, with dense minute reddish scales; rachis 21-38 cm long, in mid- leaf 2-2.5 mm wide, with dense to scattered scales; leaflets in groups of 2 or irregular, 4-7 on each side of the rachis (interval 2-9 cm), distally sigmoid, proximal 5-23 x 0.4-1.6 cm, median 11-28 x 1.3-2.5 cm, cuneate at the base, acuminate, the distal leaflets often praemorse-denticulate on the distal lower margin, glabrous, top pair forming a deeply lobed flabellum 15-33 cm long, connate for 6-11 cm, the lobes 12-23 x 3.4-5 cm, with denticu-late-praemorse apices 2-4 cm wide and with the teeth continuing along the distal margin, and 6-7 main veins, leaflets glabrous except for the very base. INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, branched to 2 orders; peduncle c. 24 cm long outside the sheath, compressed, 2.5-6 mm wide distally, with rather dense minute reddish scales; prophyll c. 15 cm long outside the sheath, opening only in the distal 1-3 cm, with scattered scales; peduncular bract inserted at 12 cm above the sheath apex, c. 13 x 0.6 cm, with scattered scales, split over its length, deciduous; rachis 20-33 cm long, with 6-11 branched and 10-13 unbranched first order branches, the proximal with a rachis to 8 cm and up to 7 rachillae; rachis bracts up to 4 x 2.5 mm; rachillae 3-14 cm long, 0.5-1 mm diam., minutely puberulous; triads rather distant, superficial; rachilla bract concave, apiculate. STAMINATE FLOWERS with sepals 0.5-0.7 x 0.7-1 mm, keeled and gibbous, orbicular, rounded; petals 1.2-1.8 x 0.9-1.2 mm, elliptic, acute, striate; stamens 6, slightly biseriate (0.2 mm offset, the inner higher), the filaments 0.4-1 mm long, thin, the anthers 0.8-1.3 x 0.3-0.5 mm, dorsifixed, versatile, with parallel acute locules; ovary rudiment with wide base, distally subtrigonouspyramidal, 0.6-0.8 x 0.2-0.3 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with sepals 0.5-0.6 x 0.5-1 mm; petals 2-2.4 x 1.8-2.3 mm; staminodes 6, minute; gynoecium when young to 1 mm high. FRUIT only known when young, up to 9 x 3 mm, with rather pointed apex. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Materials Examined

  • Tolanaro: Manantenina-Soavola, Nov. 1971 (fl.), Guillaumet 3901 (K, P); Lakandava, Jan. 1990 (y.fr.), Rabevohitra 2208 (P). Madagascar, without locality, without date, (fl.), Commerson s.n. (Holotype P); also without locality or date (bud), Goudot s.n. (P). (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A


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