Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
J.Dransf. & Beentje, The palms of Madagascar: 198 (1995).
Chrysalidocarpus baronii Becc. (1906), Neodypsis baronii (Becc.) Jum. (1924).
Sugarcane tree, sugarcane palm (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Dypsis baronii is endemic to Madagascar.
The palm heart of Dypsis baronii is reported to be an excellent vegetable; the fruits are also edible and sweet. Dypsis baronii is a very elegant palm and is grown in Antananarivo and other parts of Madagascar (and occasionally elsewhere) as an ornamental.
Palm with sugarcane-like trunks clustering in clumps of 3–5, 2–8 m tall and up to 12(–22) cm in diameter; crown shaft up to 60 cm long, pale green to pale yellow. Leaves 4–8 in the crown, arranged spirally, pinnately compound; sheath up to 60 cm long, petiole up to 37(–53) cm long, rachis 50–120 cm long; leaflets 35–60 on each side of the rachis, dark green, basal leaflets threadlike, hanging, up to 1 m long, median leaflets stiff, up to 50 cm long. Inflorescence between or below the leaves, branched to 2 orders, arching; peduncle 25–60 cm long, reddish; bracts 4, up to 75 cm long; rachis up to 35 cm long, branches up to 25 cm long, pinkish to pale green, with both male and female flowers. Flowers unisexual, 3-merous; male flowers with 6 stamens and a rudimentary pistil; female flowers with superior, apparently 1-celled ovary and rudimentary stamens. Fruit an ellipsoid or subglobose drupe 1–2 cm × 1–1.5 cm, 1-seeded. Seed ellipsoid, c. 1 cm long, outside slightly grooved; endosperm ruminate.
Dypsis comprises about 140 species, all endemic to Madagascar except 2 occurring in Comoros and 1 on Pemba Island.
Some Dypsis species apparently related to Dypsis baronii have been reported as sources of palm heart: Dypsis basilonga (Jum. & H.Perrier) Beentje & J.Dransf., Dypsis oreophila Beentje, and Dypsis tsaratananensis (Jum.) Beentje & J.Dransf. However, all these species are much more rare than Dypsis baronii.
Dypsis baronii occurs in moist montane forest and bamboo-dominated forest, at 850–1500 m altitude, usually on steep slopes, less often on ridge-crests.
Dypsis baronii is reproduced by seeds, which are available on the international market. Seeds germinate in 1–3 months.
Genetic resources and breeding
Dypsis baronii is common and occurs over a large area in Madagascar. There is no danger of genetic erosion.
Dypsis baronii may remain of local importance for the production of palm heart as it is one of the more widespread Dypsis species. It seems to have potential for sustainable production because it grows in clumps. This elegant palm has great potential as an ornamental in parks and gardens.
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• Jumelle, H., 1945. Palmiers (Palmae). Flore de Madagascar et des Comores (plantes vasculaires), famille 30. Imprimerie Officielle, Tananarive, Madagascar. 180 pp.
• Davies, R.I. & Pritchard, H.W., 1998. Seed conservation of dryland palms of Africa and Madagascar: needs and prospects. Forest Genetic Resources 26: 36–43.
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• Haynes, J. & McLaughlin, J., 2000. Edible palms and their uses. Fact Sheet MDCE-00-50, UF/Miami-Dade County Extension office, Homestead, United States. 13 pp.
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Correct citation of this article:
van der Burg, W.J., 2004. Dypsis baronii (Becc.) Beentje & J.Dransf. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.