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Dypsis gronophyllum

A clustering palm, with leaflets that look as though they have been 'nibbled', Dypsis gronophyllum is known only from the Vondrozo area of south-east Madagascar.
Dypsis gronophyllum in the forest

Dypsis gronophyllum in the lowland humid evergreen forests of Vondrozo, Madagascar (Photo: John Dransfield)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Dypsis gronophyllum Rakotoarin. & J.Dransf.

Conservation status: 

Critically Endangered (CR) according to IUCN Red List criteria.


Lowland humid evergreen forest on white sands, in valley bottoms in very humid forest.

Key Uses: 

None known.

Known hazards: 

None known.


Genus: Dypsis

About this species

Dypsis gronophyllum is a rare palm found in very small numbers at a few sites in Madagascar, and has leaves which appear as though they have been ‘nibbled’ by animals, hence its Latin epithet ‘gronophyllum’, which describes the eroded or grooved leaves.


Discover more

Geography and distribution

Dypsis gronophyllum is known only from parts of the Vondrozo region in the south-east of Madagascar, where its numbers are extremely low. All the sites at which this palm have been found are within a 10 km² area.

Only about 40 mature individuals have been seen in the wild, growing in valley bottoms in very humid forest, at approximately 590 m above sea level.


Overview: Dypsis gronophyllum is a clustering palm with 2-4 slender stems of up to 4 m tall and 1-1.5 cm in diameter, each with a well-defined crownshaft (a conspicuous cylinder formed by tubular leaf sheaths at the top of the stem).

Leaves: The crown of the palm comprises 7-12 leaves, the undersurfaces of which are sparsely to densely covered in red hairs. The leaves are pinnate with 7-9 leaflets irregularly arranged along each side of the central rachis, and are up to 40 cm long. The leaflets are leathery and dark bluish-green, and irregularly praemorse (appearing nibbled or bitten off) at the tips.

Flowers: The inflorescences are borne between the leaves and are densely hairy in places. Each inflorescence is up to approximately 60 cm long and carries flowers in clusters of three (known as triads), each flower being no more than 2 mm in diameter.

Threats and conservation

Known from only a few sites, within an area of only 10 km², in the forests of Vondrozo, the numbers of Dypsis gronophyllum are extremely low. Fewer than 40 mature individuals have been seen and it is considered to be a Critically Endangered species. The habitat in which it is found is subject to human exploitation for wood and other natural resources.

This species at Kew

A dried specimen of Dypsis gronophyllum is held in Kew’s Herbarium, where it is made available to researchers from around the world by appointment. No spirit-preserved material or living collections of the species are held at Kew.

References and credits

Rakotoarinivo, M. & Dransfield, J. (2010). New species of Dypsis and Ravenea (Arecaceae) from Madagascar. Kew Bull. 65: 279-303.

Kew Science Editor: Lauren Gardiner
Kew contributors: William Baker, Mijoro Rakotoarinivo, John Dransfield
Copyediting: Emma Tredwell

While every effort has been taken to ensure that the information contained in these pages is reliable and complete, the notes on hazards, edibility and suchlike included here are recorded information and do not constitute recommendations. No responsibility will be taken for readers’ own actions.

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