Two Dypsis Mysteries Officially Clarified

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Jeff Marcus wanted me to post the following updates to a couple of Dypsis ID mysteries that have changed and been confirmed. As a result of several visits to Jeff’s collection, and by using herbarium specimens, Dr. Dransfield and Jeff have the following information to share.

Jeff would like to express his appreciation to Dr. Dransfield, and feels fortunate that we have a taxonomist who cares enough to get things right in a very complicated genus like Dypsis. And to be open minded enough to base his scientific observations on information obtained from a private palm garden.

There is a palm that was known for many years primarily as Dypsis sp. “Orange Crush.” And several years ago the species name of Dypsis pilulifera was assigned to it. However, it has now been confirmed by comparing herbarium specimens at Kew, that this palm is not D. pilulifera. Apparently this palm will now again have to be considered as undescribed.

But all is not lost. The real Dypsis pilulifera has been found. The palm that has been sold by Floribunda for many years as Dypsis sp. ‘Jurassic Park’ has turned out to be D. pilulifera. This palm was also known in the trade for a time incorrectly as D. tokoravina.

Below is a photo of these two palms side by side in Jeff’s garden. The palm Jeff is standing next to is the “new” D. pilulifera (formerly “Jurassic Park"), and the two palms to the right are the “newly (again) undescribed” Dypsis sp. ‘Orange Crush.’

post-11-0-55879000-1437162080_thumb.jpg

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Interesting, I recall it was talked about that D "Jurassic Park" was possibly D oreopedionis. These names keep changing.

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It would be interesting to hear from Dransfield about how each of these two palms could possibly have been considered to be D pilulifera. They are so clearly distinct...one has a much more open and slightly keeled crown, petioles, plumose leaflets, and heavy tomentum on the crown, while the other has none of these features. I'm sure there is a good reason (likely related to botanists trying to identify stuff based on dried up, brown herbarium specimens and very old and somewhat unreliable notes from the collector of the specimen?). Would be interesting to hear.

I'm also curious how confident the D pilulifera ID is for the 'jurassic park' palm. I'll have to check POM when I get home, but I think it does match physical description, at least much better than 'orange crush' did. But when 'orange crush' was identified as pilulifera based on Bo's flowers, Dransfield seemed quite confident at the time. Are the flowers of these two palms identical??

For the record, I always refused to call the 'orange crush' palm pilulifera...just didn't make any sense based on POM description. It's these kinds of twisting tales that make Dypsis so much fun!

Matt

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Interesting. I am just waiting for the entire Dypsis genera to be broken up into different genera.

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The last time I was up at Jeff's, he alluded to a possible name change. Good to hear it is now official. The real D. pilulifera is one stunning palm.

Thanks for the news Dean.

Tim

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Good to clear this Dypstery up...2 down...50 to go!

Daryl

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No surprise about OC. But are there not a few different Jurrasic Parks?!

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Still find "ampasindavae" hard to swallow though..

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Agree with the ampasindavae...the photos I've seen over the years show the old 'Neodypsis loucoubensis' as a beautiful palm...one that I have wanted to acquire for decades now. The larger 'ampasindavaes I've seen don't look like it. Could just be a climate thing, or it could be a Dypsis that continually morphs until it is very old...but I'm not convinced! :-)

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God I love Dypsis..hopefully this is going to be a long thread.

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I'd like to see field botanists do much more of their documentation photographically, getting good images of all parts of a plant, juveniles, seedlings, fruits, seeds, etc., with the main purpose of collecting plant tissue in the field being for the purpose of DNA fingerprinting. Surprisingly, some collectors and botanists seem not to be very good or practiced at this kind of detailed photodocumenting. Properly done, this practice could settle a lot of questions. Modern digital imaging equipment makes such documentation much more effective than it was possible historically. I think I've been told that some field investigators are working with more modern pictorial documentation.

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Absolutely fascinating, and hopefully one step closer in our long and arduous "Dypsis ID solving journey"! :) And to add to Matt in SD's post above, I sent the Orange crush flowers & seeds to John Dransfield on October 24th, 2006, and it was based on this material that John identified it as D. pilulifera. An interesting twist of events to now find out that it's Jurassic Park that's the real pilulifera! Seems to me we're getting pretty good at these mental acrobatics. :mrlooney:

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It will never be resolved! They will keep changing their minds! Job security!

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For the record, I always refused to call the 'orange crush' palm pilulifera...just didn't make any sense based on POM description. It's these kinds of twisting tales that make Dypsis so much fun!

Matt

I think it was a post or observation by you that got me in the "its not pilulifera" camp... I think it was just the two of us there though.. :beat_deadhorse: haha

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Now the other thing ... supposedly .. I bought a good sized 3-5 gal D. Jurassic park from a collector several years back that was supposed to have come from Jeff as Jurassic park.. yet as it gets larger, its more of a dead ringer for my "big curley/prestoniana.. (thats not a bad thing)...

Does anyone remember or have j.p's that look like prestoniana?

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Hmm, I wonder what I've got growing in my yard now. It came from Jeff Marcus as D. pilulifera a couple of years ago. I hope it's the real deal.

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First - in response to Neoflora whoever he/she may be, I must protest that job security doesn't come into it - I am retired after all! Our concern always, as taxonomists, is to work towards a stable, useful taxonomy that reflects relationships. But as humans (I think) we do make mistakes and furthermore, the goal posts are constantly moved as more and more material is introduced and comes to maturity. The material of Orange Crush that Bo sent does indeed closely resemble pilulifera in flowers and fruit but now I know the palm better in cultivation, it's clearly quite different from Jurassic Park (OK, you don't need me to tell you that). My task last week was to go through all the material in Kew looking at big canopy Dypsis specimens to see what Jurassic Park, material of which - and photos- I collected at Floribunda in February, most closely resembles. Another correspondent commented that problems probably arose by us looking at dried brown scraps in herbaria rather than living palms. BUT, the whole point is that the scientific name of a palm is authenticated by the type specimen - which in many cases may be a miserable scrap. It takes quite a lot of detective work to match up these scraps with modern scraps or modern well collected herbarium material. The type specimen of D. pilulifera was collected by Perrier de la Bathie in the 1920s. That specimen is in the Paris herbarium and in the University at Marseille. We have excellent life-sized photographic prints of the type and it was by comparison with that, and reading the original description that I have come to the conclusion that Jurassic Park is D. pilulifera. I am really confident about this. D. pilulifera, as treated in POM, may possibly contain some heterogeneous elements (our description may be too broad and include things that don't belong) but I am confident that the name pilulifera as I am applying it today is correct.

Field botanists these days do take vast amounts of digital photographs (in answer to Mike in Kurtistown (oh, how I wish people used their real names on Palm talk). The value of digital photography has, of course, been long ago accepted by taxonomists. However, no amount of digital photography can improve historic scraps of dead brown 'hay' on which plant names are often based.

What has helped me so much has been the opportunity to work with Jeff Marcus with his brilliant eye for species differences, to get to know the plants in cultivation, to as it were know them, and then to try to apply existing names. Where there is really no name and where I feel confident that we are dealing with a discrete taxon rather than variation within an existing taxon, then I will go about describing something as new. There are still more than a handful of big Dypsis in cultivation that defy naming at present and an equal number of really well collected modern specimens from the wild that await naming.

John

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Thank you so much Dr. Dransfield, for all your hard work, for without it there would be no Palmpedia. Ed

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Thanks a lot for all those great informations, and thanks a lot Dr Dransfield for all those precisions.

But, now i have a problem !!

What are all the palms we observed in Andasibe with my friend of Palmeraie-Union Society and that was more or less called as D pilulifera (sometimes confirmed by Mijoro, sometimes not).

A first one, quite closed to D sp orange crownshaft, but with no really orange crownshaft ...

Is this one could be the D sp orange crownshaft or something else ?

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15688560679_014ae5581d_c.jpg

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15252930744_a6dffff726_c.jpg

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A second one, that seems to be very closed to D sp Jurrasic Park (i noticed it before), and so that would probably be the real D pilulifera

15873189841_8666a35791_c.jpg

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And a third one, that is closed to the second one (especially the leaflets disposal), but with differents colors and no really scales on petioles and crownshaft. I think that could be the same as the previous one, and so, that could be also the real D pilulifera

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Dr Dransfield, and others of course, i would really like to read your comments about all our observations in Andasibe - Madagascar (the locality type of D pilulifera !!)

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John,

Thank you so very much for your long, detailed and very informative response. Always good to get your input here! :) And I know how you feel about the names/signatures here on PalmTalk, but in most cases you can quickly find out who's behind a particular name simply by clicking on that name and getting to their PalmTalk Profile.

Bo-Göran

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Now the other thing ... supposedly .. I bought a good sized 3-5 gal D. Jurassic park from a collector several years back that was supposed to have come from Jeff as Jurassic park.. yet as it gets larger, its more of a dead ringer for my "big curley/prestoniana.. (thats not a bad thing)...

Does anyone remember or have j.p's that look like prestoniana?

Bill - This was obtained as D. tokoravina (“Jurassic Park")

post-3609-0-72934900-1437238019_thumb.jp

This was obtained as D. prestoniana

post-3609-0-43490200-1437238079_thumb.jp post-3609-0-05533500-1437238122_thumb.jp

And to round out the comparisons, this is D. "Orange Crush"

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post-3609-0-53437300-1437238807_thumb.jp post-3609-0-45363900-1437238818_thumb.jp

gmp

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First - in response to Neoflora whoever he/she may be, I must protest that job security doesn't come into it - I am retired after all! Our concern always, as taxonomists, is to work towards a stable, useful taxonomy that reflects relationships. But as humans (I think) we do make mistakes and furthermore, the goal posts are constantly moved as more and more material is introduced and comes to maturity.

John - Thank you for your dedication and lifelong contributions to discovery, identification, classification, understanding and teaching about palms, a subject matter close to the hearts of everyone who spends time on this forum. I also know that your work must come from a deep seated love (perhaps passion might be a better word) for you to be continuing with this work well into your retirement. Your character and the quality of your work is exemplified by your openness to new information, re-evaluation, and pursuit of truth and accurate understanding.

I also want to thank you for coming onto this forum and sharing your knowledge and new information. It is reasonably common for folks on this forum to lament that there is not more participation by "the academics" on PalmTalk. I understand the divide that commonly occurs between "academics/professionals" in a field and "hobbyists", with each gravitating to and communicating with their own circle of peers, and that it often takes special individuals to reach out across that divide to find commonality. It is unfortunate when the divide is widened by insensitive and offensive comments of others that can only be viewed as counterproductive to congeniality and free exchange of knowledge that is the cornerstone of this forum. While I can not apologize for someone else, I want you to know that it saddens me when this occurs.

Thank you for continuing to reach across the divide to share new information and bring us all closer together.

Best - gmp

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I wonder if many of the oropedionis out there are actually pilulifera?

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Many thanks to John Dransfield for joining the discussion and helping us to clarify D. pilulifera. John, sorry for the unintended ambiguity about my personal ID.

I am led to puzzle over two of my Dypsis palms. The first was obtained here on the Big Island. I think that Its origin was Jeff Marcus nursery where it was raised as D. sp. "Jurassic Park": 5-gal orange bucket for scale.

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I obtained seeds from Rarepalmseeds in July 2007 as D. prestoniana, and one of the resulting plants is this one:

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Studying the two palms, I just can't seed any difference in the leaves. Both even have the reddish brown tomentum on the base of the new leaves, which seems to turn grayish on the older leaves of the larger plant.

This subject has sent me to a book that I have not used as much as I should, the Madagascar palm field guide. It appears that there is a group of large tristichous palms that are rather similar and could be mistaken for one another, especially at a juvenile size before they flower, specifically oropedionis, pilulifera, manajarensis, malcomberi, prestoniana, and tokoravina. The reddish markings that I describe might be something that is mentioned for pilulifera, but I am far from sure about any ID.

It would be great if a field guide like this would have many great detailed photos of all aspects of this complex group of palms. The problem, of course, is that one would need a grant from the Gates foundation to print it. (And it would cost $500 to buy it.) Perhaps Harri Lorenzi down in Brazil had the right idea in setting up his own publication firm.

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Many thanks for all your appreciative comments.= - and sorry, Mike, I could so easily have found out who Mike in Kurtistown is.

I have to say that trying to sort out the big Dypsis spp is a nightmare. It's bad enough with juveniles in the field but in gardens it's even worse. Olivier has picked up on the weak spot of my message - is D. paucifolia really a synonym of D. pilulifera? Yes, the three Andasibe plants look distinctive in your photographs but I have to say that without good material to examine, it's really hard work to make any progress. All will be reassessed as we work gradually towards the second edition of POM.

I have been very impressed by one feature of orange crush - that is the complete lack of a petiole in young trunking individuals with crowded basal leaflets. This feature I have not observed in the wild in Madagascar. Oh, how I wish we had proper records of where seeds were collected that have produced the mystery plants in cultivation - it would help the taxonomist so much.

John

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Olivier has picked up on the weak spot of my message - is D. paucifolia really a synonym of D. pilulifera? Yes, the three Andasibe plants look distinctive in your photographs but I have to say that without good material to examine, it's really hard work to make any progress. All will be reassessed as we work gradually towards the second edition of POM.

John

Thanks a lot John for your answer and comments. There are very interesting for me because during this second trip in Andasibe we were sure that we did some great observations.

To complete my previous post, here are some more informations :

The first one is the more common species in Andasibe, we found it in quite all the reserve we visited. His characteristic is regular leaflets on the same axis, both in adultes and juveniles like this on a juvenile :

15687652718_0373ba49ed_c.jpg

The second one was found in Mitsinjo reserve, characterized by leaflets grouped and a lot of white scales on petiole. We found only one juvenile. Our guide told us some adults still exists, but very far into the reserve. It was impossible for us to go there. There was near this one some of the previous species with regular leaflets that confirmed us it was 2 very different species.

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The third one was found in Maromizaha reserve. First we found an adult with white crownshaft, very long petiole and leaflets grouped. It was very ugly, maybe ill :

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So we asked are guides to find more of this species, and after a long walk, we found this stunning juvenile with no scale on petioles, leaflets grouped and so beautiful colours ...

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Please Oliver... keep posting pics and observations! :drool:

And Thanks as Always John.

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Thanks John for posting. I am sure you had wished you got yourself more involved with Chamaedorea over Dypsis many years ago :)

I wanted to post something I though kind of cool and by chance it coincides with Mardys tour. For many years we have admired three plants in his garden that grow super slow but we're thought by the many Dypsis freaks that visit to be Dypsis tokoravina or 'Jurasic Park'. During the tour I showed a few people this palm and this old name tag. I got a kick out of how everything seemed to have come full circle with this palm and mystery. What Mardy has been growing and calling Dypsis pilulifera looks to be the real deal and called such ever since he got it. The palm pic below with this old tag is of course dying but you get the gist of what it looked like. I didn't get any photos of the other two healthy plants but maybe Bill Sanford did as he was groping them last I saw.

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Sadly, phone was nearly dead.. So I only took a pic in the pool house... But yes, there are two other good size, albeit stretched examples in Mardi's yard.

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Thanks Olivier for posting those pictures. Of course, at the moment I'm really unable to comment without flowers/fruit. As for Mardy's D. pilulifera - how interesting (and amusing that things should have come full circle).

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Thanks for posting John. Always interesting to hear your commentary on the process of naming and official identification. Also neat to hear that you appreciate the insights of a longtime grower like Jeff Marcus. I've always wondered why botanical description is so focused on flowers...I'm sure there is a good reason, and it obviously works fairly well in a lot of cases, I just don't know the history or logic. But at least with Dypsis, it looks like there are some cases where the growers "feel" for gross morphology may actually cover some shortcomings of trying to identify based on flower structure alone. I'm sure Jeff is having a great time with all this as well!

Matt

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Nice thread, lovely Dypsis, whatever it is.

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Thank you Dr. Dransfield for dedicating your life to such a noble profession which helps hobbyists like myself.

Dr Dransfield asks why don't we use our real names on Palmtalk. I don't know why. It's ironic isn't it that we need the names of our palms, the correct names, we even demand exactness to find comfort in our labels, and yet Peter Walter Beatty becomes Peter Pacific with relative ease and not even one DNA sample taken!!

Peter

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Oh, how I wish we had proper records of where seeds were collected that have produced the mystery plants in cultivation - it would help the taxonomist so much.

John

Orange Crush came to NZ from Inge Hoffman (IPS seedbank) in the early 1990's as Ravenea sp. I wonder if IPS have archives that could assist? Has Tsaratanana been surveyed recently? I have a hunch a few loose ends could be tidied up with an expedition there.

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Oh, how I wish we had proper records of where seeds were collected that have produced the mystery plants in cultivation - it would help the taxonomist so much.

John

Orange Crush came to NZ from Inge Hoffman (IPS seedbank) in the early 1990's as Ravenea sp. I wonder if IPS have archives that could assist? Has Tsaratanana been surveyed recently? I have a hunch a few loose ends could be tidied up with an expedition there.

Do you suggest D orange crush was collected in Tsaratanana ?

This poorly known region was visited by some members of Palmeraie-Union society in november 2010.

In this area, they found some unidentified Dypsis withs sometimes an orange crownshaft, but some seemed to be cespituous, some had regular leaflets, other had grouped leaflets .. According to those pictures, it seems to be difficult to conclude the presence of D orange crush in Tsaratanana ..

http://fousdepalmiers.fr/html/forum/viewtopic.php?f=227&t=16449

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Olivier, I can no longer remember exactly why, just an assemblage of little bits and pieces over the years so totally unreliable! But, no, it was not due to your fine photography. I think maybe a collector went there in the early 90s and came out with a few treasures which are now difficult to place. BTW I think that Orange Crush can have plumose leaves. I think Bo had one like that from a batch of the regular form.

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very interesting thread!!

keep the posts coming!! :)

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