Dypsis gronophyllum in the lowland humid evergreen forests of Vondrozo, Madagascar (Photo: John Dransfield)
Dypsis gronophyllum Rakotoarin. & J.Dransf.
Critically Endangered (CR) according to IUCN Red List criteria.
Lowland humid evergreen forest on white sands, in valley bottoms in very humid forest.
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.
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.
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
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