1. Family: Arecaceae Bercht. & J.Presl
    1. Genus: Dypsis Noronha ex Mart.
      1. Dypsis brevicaulis (Guillaumet) Beentje & J.Dransf.

        The leaves of Dypsis brevicaulis, a rare palm found in very small numbers at only a few sites in Madagascar, appear to grow directly out of the ground, hence its Latin epithet brevicaulis, which means ‘short-stemmed’.

    East Coast just N of Manantenina and Manafiafy/Sainte-Luce.
    Critical. Only known from three sites; numbers are extremely low (less than twentyhave been seen) and forests in the area are under threat from shifting cultivation and proposed ilmenite mining operations.
    Not recorded.
    General Description
    Solitary (?) dwarf palm, almost acaulescent (Humbert 20671 has suffrutex 1 m). STEM largely underground, May-15 cm, 0.9-2 cm diam. LEAVES 5-8, entire; sheath 07-Nov cm long, densely covered with reddish scales but glabrescent, with 2 small auricles, almost open in outermost leaves, then with ragged margins; petiole 0-8 cm long, 2-2.5 mm diam., adaxially flat, abaxially concave, withscattered scales; lamina narrowly triangular, 28-150 x 2.7-4.5 cm, with attenuate base, with c. 4 main veins on each side, adaxially with the proximal part of the midrib scaly, abaxially with the midrib scaly, and with minute scattered scales all over, lobed for 3.5-12 cm, the lobes 1.6-2 cm wide and with rather narrow, dentate apex, the outside margin also with one or two indistinct teeth at 06-Oct cm from the apex. INFLORESCENCE unbranched or rarely branched into 2 rachillae; peduncle c. 13 cm; prophyll c. 13 x 0.3 cm; peduncular bract not seen; rachilla Sep-17 cm, c. 1 mm diam., lepidote, with 60-80 triads, these protrandrous; rachilla bract wide, concave, rounded-triangular. STAMINATE FLOWERS with keeled sepals 1.3-1.5 x 1-1.2 mm, acute, slightly gibbous; petals 2-2.2 x 1.2 mm, ovate, acute; stamens 6, didymous, biseriate, the antepetalous inserted 0.2-0.5 mm higher up, filaments 0.8-0.9 x 0.3 mm, anthers c. 0.4 x 0.6 mm; pistillode 0.8 x 0.5 mm, club-shaped. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with cucullate sepals; petals ovate, staminodes 6, very short at the base of an oblong ovary, this trigonous, with connivent stigmas. FRUIT unknown.
    Evergreen forest on white sand or laterite; 1-700 m.

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    This dwarf palm from Madagascar is threatened by forest destruction. It is only known from three sites, and fewer than fifty Dypsis brevicaulis plants have been found in the wild.

    The leaves of Dypsis brevicaulis, a rare palm found in very small numbers at only a few sites in Madagascar, appear to grow directly out of the ground, hence its Latin epithet brevicaulis, which means ‘short-stemmed’.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    This palm species is known from only three sites in the north of Tolagnaro, in the extreme southeast of Madagascar, where its numbers are extremely low. It occurs in the forests of the east coast, just north of Manantenina and Manafiafy/Sainte-Luce, at 100-700 m above sea level.


    Overview:   Dypsis brevicaulis is a dwarf palm which appears to be almost acaulescent (lacking a visible stem). The stem is mostly underground and is up to 15 cm long and 2 cm in diameter.

    Leaves: Its 5-8 leaves are covered with reddish scales, have two small auricles (ear-like lobes) at the base and ragged margins. The erect leaves are narrowly triangular in shape, up to 1.5 m in length, and have a deeply-notched apex.

    Flowers: The inflorescences are usually unbranched but rarely branch into two, and are up to 40 cm long and covered with small scale-like hairs. Each inflorescence carries 60-80 clusters of flowers (known as triads), each flower being no more than 3 mm in diameter.

    Threats and conservation

    Known from only three sites, north of Tolagnaro, Dypsis brevicaulis numbers are extremely low (fewer than 50 have ever been seen).

    This area is being deforested by villagers for use in shifting cultivation and there are also plans to mine for ilmenite (a mineral used in titanium dioxide production) there in the future.

    Conservation assessments carried out at Kew

    Dypsis brevicaulis is being monitored as part of the 'IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants', which aims to produce conservation assessments for a representative sample of the world’s plant species. This information will then be used to monitor trends in extinction risk and help focus conservation efforts where they are needed most.

    Evergreen forest; on white sand or laterite.
    Critically Endangered (CR) according to IUCN Red List criteria.

    None recorded.



    Found In:


    Dypsis brevicaulis (Guillaumet) Beentje & J.Dransf. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Jan 1, 1995 Guillaumet, J.L. [4003], Madagascar K000114737 isotype
    Jan 1, 1995 Beentje, H.J. [4610], Madagascar K000114738
    Jan 1, 1995 Humbert, H. [20671], Madagascar K000114739
    Dupuy, D.J. [M855], Madagascar K000114736
    Dupuy, D.J. [M855], Madagascar 62003.000

    First published in Palms Madagascar: 323 (1995)

    Accepted in:

    • [2] Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005) World Checklist of Palms . The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


    • [1] Rakotoarinivo, M. & Dransfield, J. (2010). Dypsis brevicaulis. Assessment using IUCN Categories and Criteria 3.1 (IUCN 2001). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [3] Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. (1995). The Palms of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [4] J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995


    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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