Marojejya insignis Humbert, Mém. Inst. Sci. Madagascar, Sér. B, Biol. Vég. 6: 94 (1955)

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  • This is one of the grandest palms of Madagascar. First discovered in 1949 on the spectacular mountain massif of Marojejy, it has now been found to occur throughout the length of the eastern rain forests. There is even a handsome individual growing in the Parc de Tsimbazaza in Antananarivo opposite the Herbarium building. This is a rather massive, litter-trapping palm. The species name is Latin for "outstanding" or "remarkable". (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Madagascar present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Widespread, from Marojejy to Andohahela. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


  • This palm, described as late as 1955, remained very poorly known until it was recollected by Harold Moore in 1971. Since then, numerous collections of Marojejya-like palms have been made from the Marojejy mountains in the north to Andohahela in the south. At first, every collection from a new area appeared to differ in some way from the type, as well as from each other. Features such as the presence or absence of a petiole, combined with the presence or absence of auricles, and the dissection of the leaf have proved to be extraordinarily variable. We even found such variation within populations. For a time we felt there were at least two separate taxa, but upon careful examination of the now ample material we have been forced to admit that all this variation occurs within a single taxon, M. insignis.
    . Andapa: Mt Beondroka, March 1949 (ster.), Humbert 23424 (K, P); Marojejy East peak slopes, March 1949 (fr.), Humbert 23632 (K, L, P, type); idem, Oct. 1988 (old infl.), Miller et al. 3508 (K); idem, Nov. 1989 (, Dransfield et al. JD6754 (K, TAN). Maroantsetra: Sahavary, Oct. 1986 (bud), Dransfield et al. JD6404 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN); idem, Feb. 1988 (, Dransfield et al. JD6462 (K, P); idem, Feb. 1988 (old infl.), Dransfield et al. JD6484 (K, TAN). Toamasina: Ankiririryra Forest, March 1971 (fl.), Moore 9901 (P); Betampona, Oct. 1991 (fl.), Beentje 4499 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN); idem, Beentje 4500 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN). Moramanga: Anranomenabe, Nov. 1986 (ster.), Dransfield et al. JD6432 (K, P, TAN); Mantady, Dec. 1991 (fr.), Beentje & Andriampaniry 4547 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN); idem, Beentje & Andriampaniry 4551 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN). Ifanadiana: Ambinanindrano, Nov. 1991 (fl., fr., seedling), Beentje 4533 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN); idem, July 1992 (fr.), Beentje & Andriampaniry 4733 (K); idem, Jan. 1993 (, Beentje & Andriampaniry 4804 (K). Manakara: Amby, May 1992 (old infl.), Beentje & Andriampaniry 4663 (K, MO, TAN); idem, July 1992 (fl.), Beentje & Andriampaniry 4725 (K, MO, TAN). Tolanaro: Andohahela, Dec. 1989 (, Dransfield et al. JD6775 (K, P, TAN); idem, (old infl.), Dransfield et al. JD6778 (K, TAN).
    S. Andranomifotitra valley (reported in protologue), Ambatasoratra slopes (reported). Mananara Avaratra (Beentje & Dransfield). (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A

Biology And Ecology

  • Lowland to mid-altitude rain forest; ridgetop or steep slopes, (70-) 350-1150 m. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


  • Vulnerable. Despite its wide distribution, the size of individual populations is small, and we estimate the total number of individuals at less than two thousand. Cutting for palm-heart continues. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A

Common Name

  • Menamoso, Beondroka (Tsimihety); Maroalavehivavy (the female Beccariophoenix), Betefoka, Besofina, Hovotralanana, Mandanzezika (Betsimisaraka); Fohitanana, kona (Tanala). (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


  • Palm-heart eaten. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


  • Solitary tree palm. TRUNK 2-8 m, 14-40 cm diam. (with sheath remnants up to 50 cm), obscurely ringed; distal part (c. 1 m) of trunk, covered in sheath/petiole remnants, often with zigzag roots of other plants visible; internodes brown, 1.5-2.5 cm, nodal scars c. 1 cm. Superficial roots sometimes present. LEAVES 15-20, spirally arranged, 4-5 m long, held porrect in shuttlecock mode, marcescent; sheath glabrous, 40-94 cm long, attenuate towards the blade, without auricles or with clear auricles to 6 x 5 cm, abaxially densely red-tomentose to almost glabrous, bright green to cherry-red, distally (together with the proximal part of the lamina) litter- and water-accumulating with aerial roots penetrating the litter, soon splitting opposite the petiole, the margins often fibrous, the margins with conspicuous robust parallel veins, those of the auricles sinuous or arching; (apparent?) petiole 0-143 cm, adaxially channelled with sharp edges to flat, 4-9 x 3-6.5 cm diam., in older leaves with scattered scales; rachis 3-5.8 m long, in midleaf 1.5-3 cm wide and keeled, abaxially with scattered chocolate-coloured to reddish scales (up to 5 x 1 mm) in shallow depressions or ± glabrous; either with the lamina entire in proximal quarter, multi-fold, outer margin 1.5-2 m long, 20-30 cm wide and more distally regularly pinnate, with (22, Amby) 30-60 leaflets on each side of the rachis, or with the leaf regularly pinnate with 59-84 leaflets on each side of the rachis, and nearly all leaflets single-fold, stiff or slightly arching, in one plane, green, the proximal 36-80 x 0.4-2.6 (-7.5) cm (the basal two occasionally 2-fold), the median 75-120 x 2-5 (-15) cm (interval 2-7.5 cm), distal 28-52 x 1-7 cm, connate for 2.5-12 cm, main veins 1-10, fold interfaces with medium-sized reddish scales (floccose whan young, with minute reddish dots or not visible ly reddish-tomentellous; prophyll 26-35 x 6.5-15 cm, with small scattered scales, split over its length, adnate for 3 cm; first peduncular bract inserted at c. 8 cm from the base of the peduncle, 34-45 x 5-15 cm, with a beak 2-4 cm or not beaked at all, with scattered scales; non-tubular peduncular bracts 9-15, decreasing in size from base to apex of the peduncle, 2-31 x 1.2-7 cm; rachis 8-18 cm, densely reddish-tomentellous, with 16-50 rachillae; rachillae 5-12 cm long, with a short bare base to 1.5 cm long and 7-13 x 4 mm diam. with a few narrowly triangular sterile bracts, the rest c. 12 mm diam., very densely set with solitary pistillate flowers; bracteoles two, 3-6 x 3-4 mm, acute, very similar to the sepals. PISTILLATE FLOWERS green to creamcoloured; bracteoles 2-6 x 2.3-6 mm, the largest very similar to the sepals; sepals imbricate, slightly asymmetrical (more so in fruit), broadly ovate with slightly thickened, darker apex, the margins ciliolate, 5-8 x 4.5-7.5 mm, with slightly ragged edges; petals broadly ovate with small fleshy triangular apices, 7-16 x 5-12 mm; staminodes slender, 1-1.7 mm, sometimes connate for up to 0.2 mm, in fruit connate with the fruit base and carried upwards for up to 1 mm; pistil 9-12 x 4-6 mm, styles to 2 mm long, papillose adaxially. FRUIT bright to dark plum red to purplish turning black, irregularly obovoid, 18-21 x 11-20 x 10-14 mm, with a pronounced style boss to 5 mm high, this either subapical to almost sub-basal; mesocarp fleshy, 1-1.5 mm thick; endocarp fibrous, 14-16 x 12-16 mm, the fibres parallel near the base, anastomosing distally, without a beak. SEED subglobose, 11-14 x 10-15 x 9-10 mm, with homogeneous endosperm; embryo basal. EOPHYLL bifid, with a long petiole (> 13 cm). (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


    A. Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar
    B. World Checklist of Arecaceae