1. Family: Arecaceae Bercht. & J.Presl
    1. Genus: Tahina J.Dransf. & Rakotoarin.
      1. Tahina spectabilis J.Dransf. & Rakotoarin.

        Large enough to be visible in satellite imagery, Tahina spectabilis, commonly known as dimaka, is an enormous ‘self-destructive’ palm that remained undetected by science until 2007. Its extraordinary appearance and genetic evidence indicate that this palm belongs in a genus of its own within a group of palms originally thought to be restricted to Asia. Efforts are now underway to conserve this species through distribution of seed and cultivation in botanic gardens.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Large enough to be visible in satellite imagery, dimaka is an enormous 'self-destructive' palm that remained undetected by science until 2007.

    Large enough to be visible in satellite imagery, Tahina spectabilis, commonly known as dimaka, is an enormous ‘self-destructive’ palm that remained undetected by science until 2007. Its extraordinary appearance and genetic evidence indicate that this palm belongs in a genus of its own within a group of palms originally thought to be restricted to Asia. Efforts are now underway to conserve this species through distribution of seed and cultivation in botanic gardens.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    Northwest Madagascar - confined to a small area in Analalava district.

    Description

    Tahina spectabilis has a huge trunk, with a swollen base, and a 4 to 10 m high crown comprising about twelve fan-shaped leaves up to 5 m in diameter. Dead leaves are retained below the new growth but eventually fall under their own weight as the tree gets larger. The trunk is covered by ring scars left by the fallen leaves.

    When flowering commences, the tip of the stem extends above the dense green crown, expanding into an impressive pyramidal, candelabra-like inflorescence (around 4-5 m in height) which at maturity explodes with a multitude of tiny yellow flowers.

    Threats and conservation

    As with all of Madagascar’s wildlife the biggest threat to this palm is likely to be habitat loss. It is particularly vulnerable because it has a very small population size (estimated at 90 individuals) and a restricted range, meaning that even small-scale impacts could be potentially devastating. Since the 1970s, approximately one-third of Madagascar’s primary vegetation has disappeared, mainly as a direct result of fires, logging and clearance of land for agriculture.

    Tahina spectabilisseeds have been sent to:

    • National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kalaheo, Hawai
    • Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, USA
    • Montgomery Botanical Center, Miami, USA
    • Honolulu Botanical Gardens, Hawai, USA
    • Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain, Sydney, Australia
    • Townsville Palmetum, Townsville, Australia
    • Durban Botanic Garden, Durban, South Africa
    • Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore
    • Kebun Raya Indonesia, Bogor
    • Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
    • Palmetum of Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Tenerife, Spain
    Uses

    Uses for Tahina spectabilis are not known. As a rare species, it is likely to be prized as an ornamental.

    Cultivation

    Propagation of this palm has been achieved by seed-sowing at Kew. Seeds were sown during February, having been soaked in water for 24 hours prior to sowing. The seed compost included Seramis (clay granules) and perlite. Two months after sowing, 80% of the seeds had germinated. The seedlings were potted up individually into ‘long tom’ pots. After three years (in early 2011), the plants were still growing well.

    This species at Kew

    Tahina spectabilis can be seen growing in the Palm House at Kew.

    Distribution
    Madagascar
    Ecology
    Grows at low elevation in fertile, seasonally-flooded soils at the foot of a limestone outcrop.
    Conservation
    Not yet assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria.
    Hazards

    None known.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Madagascar

    Common Names

    English
    Dimaka

    Tahina spectabilis J.Dransf. & Rakotoarin. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Sep 15, 2007 Dransfield, J. [JD7777], Madagascar K000525930
    Madagascar 70000.272
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar 65098.000
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar 65099.000
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar 65100.000
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar 65101.000
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar 65102.000
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar 65103.000
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar 65104.000
    Rakotoarinivo, M. [337], Madagascar 65105.000 holotype
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar K000525877
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar K000525878
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar K000525879
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar K000525880
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar K000525881
    Metz, X. [s.n.], Madagascar K000525882
    Rakotoarinivo, M. [RMJ337], Madagascar K000525955 holotype

    First published in Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 156: 84 (2008)

    Accepted in:

    • [3] Dransfield, J., Uhl, N.W., Asmussen, C.B., Baker, W.J., Harley. M.M. & Lewis, C.E. (2008) Genera Palmarum; The evolution and classification of Palms . Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

    Literature

    • [1] Dransfield, J., Leroy, B., Metz, X. & Rakotoarinivo, M. (2008). Tahina – a new palm genus from Madagascar. Palms 52: 31–39.
    • [2] Dransfield, J., Rakotoarinivo, M.,  Baker, W. J., Bayton, R. P., Fisher, J. B., Horn, J. W.,  Leroy, B. & Metz, X. (2008). A new Coryphoid palm genus from Madagascar. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 156: 79–91.

    Sources

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2017). Published on the internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp
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    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
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    Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
    Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet http://www.palmweb.org. Accessed on 21/04/2013
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