Raphia farinifera (Gaertn.) Hyl., Lustgården 31-32: 88 (1952)

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Introduction

  • All Raphia palms seen by us were closely associated with human habitation; variation within the Madagascar populations seems to be minimal, especially as regards the fruit; this gives us reason to believe the species has been introduced to the island. This same species is common and widespread in continental Africa. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Distribution

Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/tdwg/geogrphy.html)
Angolapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Beninpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Burkinapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Cameroonpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Gambia, Thepresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Ghanapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Guineapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Ivory Coastpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Kenyapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Madagascarpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Malawipresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mauritiuspresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mozambiquepresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Nigeriapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Réunionpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Senegalpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Seychellespresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Sierra Leonepresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Tanzaniapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Ugandapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Zambiapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Zimbabwepresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mainland Africa; in Madagascar probably introduced. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Discussion

  • According to Gerard Jean (pers. comm.), plants take 20-25 years from seed to flowering, and 5-6 years from flowering to ripe fruit; all the fruits mature in the same year. Perrier stated that raffia in Madagascar varies quite a bit as regards the length of the fibres, and in the form and size of the fruit. The most striking variety, he said, is one with very large fruits in the Sambirano. No material of this has come to light. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Biology And Ecology

Uses

Description

  • Solitary palm, though clustering in mainland Africa. TRUNK to 10 m, covered in persistent leaf sheaths. LEAVES c. 12 in the crown, porrect, slightly spreading, giving the crown a "shuttle-cock" appear- ; ance, very long, to 20 m; leaf base sheathing, with ragged ligular edge; petiole rounded in section; sheath and petiole c. 1.5 m long; rachis several meters long, reddish, distally keeled, proximally to 13 cm wide and decreasing to 1 cm, with scattered scales; leaflets up to 150 on each side of the rachis, inserted in 2 planes and thereby giving the whole leaf a feathery appearance, stiff, attenuate, the median 87-103 x 3.6-3.7 cm, the distal 16-36 x 0.4-1.7 cm, main veins 1, margins with small (1-3 mm long) yellow spines from base to apex of leaflet, midrib adaxially with similar spines to 4 mm, waxy, with many minute reddish scales/glands scattered over the abaxial surface, and sparse ramenta on the midrib. INFLORESCENCE pendulous from the axils of reduced leaves at the stem apex, massive, to 3 m long and 35 cm wide, branched to 2 orders; peduncle distally c. 5.5 x 4.5 cm diam., glabrous; primary prophyll c. 25 x 28 cm; peduncular bract c. 18 cm long and 8 cm diam., tubular for c. 11 cm; rachis glabrous; second order prophylls c. 9 cm long; first order branches with 13-32 rachillae packed very densely in almost one plane; rachillae 6-13 cm long, c. 8 x 5 mm diam., with dense flowers. STAMINATE FLOWERS with a tubular bract, 7-7.5 x 5-6 mm, broadly ovate, acute; prophyll c. 6 mm long and 3 mm diam.; calyx tubular, 4.5-5 mm high, the lobes < 0.2 mm high, slightly ciliolate; corolla with a tube 2-3 x 1.2-1.5 mm, the lobes 6-6.6 x 2.1-2.5 mm, narrowly ovate and acute, not thickened; stamens 6, inserted at the mouth of the tube, filaments slightly connate, 2-2.8 x 0.5-0.8 mm, anthers 3.2-3.6 x 1.2-1.3 mm, basifixed, locules slightly divergent and sagittate at the base; pistillode not seen. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with a tubular bract c. 10 x 9 mm, narrow at the base, widening in the tubular part and then narrowing to an acute apex; prophyll 7.5-8 mm, 2-keeled; bracteole 2.5-3.2 mm; calyx tubular and slightly urceolate, split, 5-6.5 mm high with a truncate apex; corolla tubular for 1-1.3 mm, the lobes narrowly triangular and acute, 2.7-3 x 1.5-1.8 mm; staminodes not seen; ovary c. 5.5 x 2.7 mm, covered in fimbriate scales. FRUIT ovoid, 5-6 x 4-4.5 cm with a conical base and a rounded apex with a beak to 5 mm, covered in c. 12 rows of reflexed scales, these with a median vertical groove, the largest scales c. 16 x 16 mm, chestnut-brown in colour. SEED ovoid, c. 3.5 x 3.2 cm; endosperm densely ruminate, the ruminations almost reaching the centre of the seed. (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A

Materials Examined

  • Sambava: Sambava area, Nov./Dec. 1950 (roots), Humbert & Capuron s.n. (P). Maroantsetra: Maroantsetra, near the airport, Feb. 1988 (bud, fr.), Henderson et al. 757 (K, P). Ifanadiana: near Ifanadiana, Nov. 1994 (ster.), Dransfield JD7516 (K, TAN). The Sambava specimen consists of only pneumatophores, but one has to assume that Humbert knew a Raphia when he saw one! (J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995)A