Dypsis decipiens (Becc.) Beentje & J.Dransf., Palms Madagascar : 191 (1995)

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  • One of the most imposing palms of the island, but that may have something to do with its occurring in the austere surroundings of the Central Plateau, where it stands out dramatically. This makes a wonderful ornamental, able to withstand some cold (though not freezing) and periods of dry weather. The species name means 'deceiving', indicating that it closely resembles something else; in this case, it is a particularly inappropriate name! (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (https://github.com/tdwg/wgsrpd)
Madagascar present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Central Madagascar, between Ankazobe and Fianarantsoa. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


  • Beccari established the new genus Macrophloga based on two different taxa: his own Chrysalidocarpus decipiens, and Neodypsis basilongus based on a Perrier specimen (no. 12088) with seed showing ruminate endosperm. True Chrysalidocarpus decipiens has homogeneous endosperm. The combination Neodypsis decipiens (Becc.) Jumelle & Perrier existed only in Beccari's imagination; Jumelle & Perrier (1913) mentioned the possibility but specifically refrained from making it.
    HB has seen bees visiting the flowers of a cultivated specimen in Antananarivo. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A

Biology And Ecology

  • Plateau forest (remnants), either near streams or in rocky sites; alt. 1400-2000 m. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


  • Endangered. The number of individuals in the wild is estimated at around two hundred; their distribution area is prone to destruction and fire. This species is listed in CITES Annexe II. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A

Common Name

  • Betefaka, Manambe (Imerina), Sihara leibe (Betsileo). (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


  • Good palm heart; leaves used for erosion control (Betsileo). (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


  • Imposing and handsome clustering palm, sometimes appearing solitary but more often in pairs or with younger shoots at the base. TRUNK 6-20 m high, ventricose; 50-70 cm diam., at the very base 30-40 cm diam., near the crown 25-30 cm diam.; internodes 4-5 cm long, grey, more distally shiny green, nodal scars c. 2 cm high, grey-brown; crownshaft pale waxy-grey-green. LEAVES 9-12 in the crown, spirally inserted, porrect; sheath c. 70 cm long, pale green with waxy white bloom, adaxially dark chestnut red-brown, onethird to half open in the oldest leaf, with brown ligules where the sheath margin makes a right angle towards the base of the petiole, with waxy scales or glabrous; petiole 10-25 cm long, proximally c. 11 x 5 cm, distally c. 7 x 5 cm diam., deeply channelled with sharp edges; rachis c. 2.2 m long, channelled proximally, in mid-leaf 3-4 x 2-2.7 cm diam. and keeled, with whitish tomentum or glabrous; leaflets c. 90 on each side of the rachis, in groups of 2-6, fanned within the groups giving the leaf a plumose appearance (though almost in one plane in very young trees), stiff with only the apices bending over, the proximal 70-94 x 1.3-1.7 cm (the most proximal often very long, narrow and pendulous), median 73-101 x 2.8-4.3 cm, distal 26-42 x 0.8-1.2 cm, in mid-leaf interval < 0.5-1 cm, the interval between the groups 3-8 cm, main veins 1, the other veins faint, apices attenuate and unequally bifid, with sparse large (1 cm) red-brown ramenta on the proximal midrib, and many small scattered reddish scales on the fainter veins. INFLORESCENCE infrafoliar, strongly curved, branched to 2 orders, c. 110 x 65 cm; peduncle 15-17 cm long, 9-10 x 4-6 cm diam.; prophyll 39-41 x c. 10 cm, borne at 6-6.5 cm above the base of the peduncle, split abaxially, but distally with a small horizontal adaxial split, dark brown, ± glabrous; peduncular bract insertion point uncertain, quickly deciduous, 42- 58 x 12-16 cm, opening over its whole length except for the beaked apex 5-6 cm long, pale waxy brown with scattered scales; rachis c. 60 cm, greyish white, glabrous, with c. 13 branched and 18 unbranched first order branches, the more proximal of these with flattened bases to 4.7 x 1.3 cm diam.; rachis bracts c. 9 mm high; rachillae 7-40 cm long, 3.5-7 mm diam., with distant triads in pits; rachilla bracts 2.5-3 x 3.5 mm, acute. STAMINATE FLOWERS with sepals 2-4 x 1.8-2.5 mm, concave, keeled, gibbous, with membranous margins, apiculate; petals connate for 1.3-1.6 mm, the free lobes 3.8-5.6 x 2.3-3.7 mm, ovate, acute to obtuse; stamens 6, in 1 series, the filaments (2-) 3.2-5 mm long and connate at base for 0.3 mm, anthers 2.3-2.8 x 0.8-1.4 mm, dorsifixed, versatile; pistillode columnar,1.9-2.7 x 0.7-1.5 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with sepals 5.1-6.3 x 3.5-5 mm, concave, orbicular, with small hooded tip; petals resembling the sepals, 4-5.3 x 3- 3.8 mm, concave, ovate, with small apiculus, staminodes 0.3-0.5 mm, dentiform; ovary 3.5-4.3 mm high, 1.5-2 mm diam. FRUIT broadly ellipsoid or almost globose, colour unknown, 22-25 x 20-22 mm; endocarp very fibrous with long anastomosing fibres. SEED 10-20 x 11.5-18mm, with rounded base and apex; endosperm homogeneous. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A

Materials Examined

  • Ankazobe: Manankazo, sine die (bud), Perrier 12099 (P). Manjakandriana: (probably all from Andrangolaoka), Baron 502 (K, P; syntype), Baron 3271 (K, syntype); & Baron s.n. (K); Ambatoloana to Mandraka, ?1936 (fr.), Boiteau s.n.(P). Ambositra: 24km S of Ambositra, April 1992 (seed), Beentje et al. 4658 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN). Ambohimahasoa: Ankafina forest, March 1881 (fl.), Hildebrandt 3974a (K, syntype). (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


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