Ravenea madagascariensis Becc., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 38(87): 40 (1906)

Primary tabs



  • A very elegant, medium-sized palm of the high plateaux; less common at lower altitudes. It is not rare in cultivation, where it is generally known as R. madagascariensis var. monticola; however, that variety does not really differ from the true madagascariensis. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (https://github.com/tdwg/wgsrpd)
Madagascar present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Central and E Madagascar: Manerinerina and Andasibe to Kalambatitra and Midongy. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


  • The description of Nicoll & Abraham 342 is suggestive of R. robustior (trunk 25 m, 20-40 cm across; 8-9 leaves in crown, with pendulous pinnae; fruit red) but the specimen is certainly R. madagascariensis. Guillaumet 4172 (P, TAN) from Marojejy is described as having multiple inflorescences; the specimen is pistillate, and looks quite like R. sambiranensis, but if it is truly the pistillate tree which has multiple inflorescences, then the specimen is true R. madagascariensis, and the distribution area of this species would be considerably extended. Most publications, including the protologue, have one of the syntypes as Chevalier s.n., but Chevalier never collected on Madagascar, and the true specimen is a Chapelier collection, with Beccari"s handwriting on it. The var. monticola was described as different, based on the width of the leaflets (but the leaflets of the types of both varieties are of about the same width, 1.7-2.4 cm), on the proximal leaflets being longer than the median ones (a not uncommon feature in this, and other, genera, and of no taxonomic significance), and on the pistillate inflorescences being in groups of three in var. monticola, as opposed to solitary in var. madagascariensis. However, the types of var. madagascariensis are either staminate (Chapelier s.n.) or without field notes (Hildebrandt 4132), and there is nothing to indicate whether var. madagascariensis has solitary or multiple pistillate inflorescences; the confusion was probably caused by Jumelle (1927b) who states that the type is from Analamazaotra, and its pistillate inflorescences are solitary. He cites Perrier 11960 and 12011; we have not seen the latter, but the former has the inflorescence cut above the base. He also cites two further specimens, which are both R. sambiranensis, with true solitary pistillate inflorescences. Since the types of var. madagascariensis and var. monticola agree in all other respects, and the large amount of material referable to this species is rather variable, but not to such an extent that a division into varieties is warranted, the varieties are re-united. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A

Biology And Ecology

  • Moist to rather dry hill forest, on steep slopes or hill crests, occasionally on steep slopes in riverine forest; 25-1700 m. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


  • Rare. The species is fairly widespread, and in areas such as Ifanadiana it may be locally common. The only protected population is the one in Mantady National Park. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A

Common Name

  • Anivo, Anivokely, Anivona (general); Tovovoko (Ifanadiana). (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


  • Outer wood used in house walls and floors. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A


  • Graceful palm. TRUNK 5-12 m, 16-22 cm diam., near crown 8-15 cm diam.; wood hard, with black fibrous layer just below the bark; base of trunk often thickened, the boss 10-60 cm high and 38-40 cm across, often with surface roots; trunk occasionally with remaining sheath bases in distal part; internodes 3.5-14 cm, brown or grey; nodal scars c. 2.5 cm; base of crown bulbous, 22-28 cm across. LEAVES 10-26 in the crown, sometimes with a few marcescent leaves; leaves porrect, straight in "shuttlecock" mode or less often slightly arching, often with the distal part held on edge; sheath 30-104 cm, the base 15-40 cm wide, dull brown with whitish brown to grey-brown tomentum, glabrescent, with fibrous edges, the fibres reflexed; petiole 20-80 cm, proximally 4.5-7 x 2-3.5 cm across, distally 3-4.5 x 1.5-2.5 cm across, adaxially channelled with sharp edges, with the same tomentum as the sheath, glabrescent; rachis 1.9-3 m, in mid-leaf 1.5-2.5 x 1.2-2 cm, keeled in the distal half, when young with whitish tomentum over green, but soon glabrescent; leaflets pale or rich green, occasionally slightly waxy, in one plane or at an angle of up to 45° with the rachis, 55-82 on each side of the rachis, the proximal 31-90 x 0.3-3.5 cm, the median 54-95 x 2.2-5.2 cm (interval 1.2-2.3 cm), the distal 11-40 x 0.3-3.5 cm, often with the terminal pair partly joined, main veins 4-6, ramenta red- brown, large, abundant along the midrib abaxially but quickly caducous leaving few on the basal part, occasionally with some on the smaller veins, margins often uprolled. STAMINATE INFLORESCENCE interfoliar, multiple in 4s-9s, the innermost opening, the outermost often remaining in bud stage until abscising; individual inflorescences branching to 2 orders; peduncle 40-119 cm, proximally 6-10 mm across, distally the same or slightly thinner, green, proximally with a dense grey-brown tomentum thinning out towards the distal end, but glabrescent; common prophyll 18-23 x 8.5 cm, tattering; peduncular bracts 26-33 cm, 53-57 cm, 120-158 cm (inserted at c. 30 cm from the base of the peduncle), 131-162 cm (inserted at c. 40 cm), densely pubescent abaxially, adaxially smooth, glabrous, red-brown; non-tubular peduncular bract 11-13.5 x 0.7-0.8 cm; rachis 37-63 cm, proximally tomentose but quickly glabrescent, with (16) 30-46 branched first order branches and 0-36 unbranched ones, all branches porrect; proximal rachis bracts 1-8 x 0.4-0.8 cm; first order branches glabrous, cream or green, with 1-3 rachillae, at the base 3-6 x 2-4 mm; rachillae 3.5-20 cm, 1 mm across, sinuous in the distal part. STAMINATE FLOWERS dense, yellowish, sweetly scented; pedicel 0.3-2 mm; bracteole 0.6-0.7 x 0.3 mm, acute; calyx connate for 0.8-2.4 mm, 1.4-1.8 mm across, free lobes 0.5-1.3 x 1.3-1.6 mm, triangular, acute; petals free or connate at the extreme base only, 1.8-4.2 x 1.8-2.5 mm, broadly ovate, shortly acuminate; filaments 0.3-0.5 mm, connate at the base for 0.2 mm; anthers 1.4-2.7 x 0.5-0.8 mm; pistillode 0.8-1 x 0.4-0.5 mm. PISTILLATE INFLORESCENCES multiple, in groups of 3-7 (only rarely solitary), erect, pendulous or spreading in fruit; individual inflorescences branching to one order; peduncle 42-100 cm, proximally 1.1-2 x 1-1.3 cm, distally 0.7-1.4 cm across, dark grey-brown tomentose, glabrescent; common prophyll 20 x 7.5 cm; peduncular bracts 11-32 cm (inserted at 0-15 cm from the base of the peduncle), 37-74 x 2.2 cm (inserted at 2-33 cm), 84-151 x 2.3 cm (inserted at 5-38 cm), 81-152 x 2.5 cm (inserted at 20-45 cm), densely tomentose abaxially, smooth, glabrous and red-brown adaxially; non-tubular peduncular bract 9.3-20 x 0.5 cm, proximally tomentose but quickly glabrescent; rachis 30-83 cm, glabrous, with (16) 41-78 porrect rachillae; proximal rachis bracts c. 2.6 x 1.3 cm; rachillae dense, porrect, green, glabrous, occasionally slightly waxy, 5-44 cm, 1.2-2.5 mm across, the bare base 4-9 x 3 mm. PISTILLATE FLOWERS not very dense, yellow; pedicel 0.5-6 mm; bracteole 0.5-3.7 1.3 mm, acute, occasionally connate with the pedicel for up to 1.5 mm; calyx connate for 1-2 mm, 1.7-2.3 mm across, the free lobes 0.4-2.3 x 1.3-2.2 mm, triangular, acute; petals fleshy, 1.7-4 x 2-2.7 mm, ovate, acute; staminodes 0.8-1.5 x 0.6-0.8 mm; ovary 2.6-4 mm, 2-2.4 mm across. FRUIT orange, globose or obliquely ellipsoid, 5-10 x 7.5-10 mm, one-seeded; stigmatic remains subapical to lateral. SEED brown, 6-7 x 5-5.5 mm. (Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H. 1995: The Palms of Madagascar)A

Materials Examined

  • Anjozorobe: Manerinerina, Dec. 1924 (fr.), Perrier 16834 (type of var. monticola; holotype P); Ambohitantely, April 1972 (stam., pist.), Peyrieras s.n. (P). Moramanga: Andasibe, Nov. 1986 (old pist.), Dransfield JD6425 (K, P, TAN); Mantady, Dec. 1991 (green fr.), Beentje 4546 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN); Anivoke, Nov.1986 (stam.), Dransfield et al. JD6430 (K, P, TAN); & Nov. 1986 (pist.), Dransfield et al. JD6431 (K, P, TAN); idem, Sept. 1991 (pist.), Beentje 4450 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN); Analamazaotra, no date (stam., pist.), Perrier 11960 (P). Ambositra: Ranomena, July 1928 (dead pist.), Humbert & Swingle 4868 (P); idem, July 1992 (dead pist.), Beentje & Beentje 4741 (K, MO, P, TAN; identification not quite certain). Ifanadiana: Tsaratanana, March 1991 (old stam.), Beentje 4435a (BH, K, MO, P, TAN); idem, March 1991 (fr.), Beentje 4435b (BH, K, MO, P, TAN); idem, Nov. 1991 (pist.), Beentje 4526 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN); idem, Nov. 1991 (stam.), Beentje 4527 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN); Ambinanindrano, Nov. 1991 (pist.), Beentje 4530 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN). Manakara: 9 km NW of Manakara, July 1992 (pist.), Beentje & Andriampaniry 4723 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN); idem (stam.), Beentje & Andriampaniry 4724 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN). Iakora: 2 km S of Kalambatritra Peak, Jan.1987 (pist. & fr.), Nicoll & Abraham 342 (K, TAN). Midongy Atsimo: 20 km S of Midongy, May 1992 (old stam.), Beentje & Andriampaniry 4666 (K, MO, TAN); idem, May 1992 (yfr.), Beentje & Andriampaniry 4667 (BH, K, MO, P, TAN). (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