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Madagascar Expedition "06"

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Last year, I once again made plans to fly back to Madagascar for another exciting look at some of the most beautiful and sought after palms in the world. When I arrived after a long 20+ hour flight into Antananarivo, the capital, Dr. Peter Balasky from here in South Florida and Bill Beattie of Australia were already there to join up for some exciting palm hunting.

  Prior to arriving, Pete was already in the country and down in the southern part near Ranomafana with his good friend, Pierrot. There,they were helping in the rebuilding of a schoolhouse and donating many supplies that he had brought over with him. The next day, Bill and I decided we would take a short taxi ride over to the Tsimbazaza Botanical and Zoological Gardens.

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As Bill and I started to walk around, it did'nt take long for some of the good memories from last year's trip to hit me. I soon found myself looking and trying to remember where certain palms were planted. One that I was really wanting to see, was this beautiful speciman of Marojejya insignis.

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Another group of palms we think, were none other than Dictyosperma album, the Princess Palm.There were some very tall specimens that had been planted many years ago. This along with many other species of palms found in the garden, are not native to Madagascar.

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A close up look at the crown of leaves.

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A final look at the crownshaft.

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As we were walking around, we came up to the small house that had many lemurs inside. There was an area where they could go out and run around for the public to enjoy, and then they all had their smaller pens that they could be put into. Here you can see a couple enjoying "playtime".

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Here Bill and I are standing in back of the Lemur cages. These two park workers asked us if we were interested in holding and feeding some of the Lemurs and motioned for us to come over. I thought, hell yea!

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Great so far and I'm anxiously waiting for more Jeffe!!  :D

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Don't get bit Jeff :(

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Oh goody. More Madagascar pics. Please continue.

Zac

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great palms--looking forward to MORE!!! :D

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Jeff - you've got a crowd anxiously waiting for more pics :D  

With a lemur thrown in here and there for good measure :D

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I wish I was knowledgable enough about palms to go on a palm hunting expedition to find new and unusual palms...  I'm afraid I don't know enough about what has already been discovered to know if I was looking at something brand new or not!  Thanks for the pics Jeff, do continue with the virtual tour!  Did you bring a lemur home?! :P

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Here I am with the gang. I have to say, I was extreamly nervous when I first started to feed them. Bill did'nt let them crawl on him like I did, maybe he knew something that I did'nt. But it went well. The workers had some honey in a pail and we stuck our finger in the honey and then let them lick it off. It was like candy to them. It was actually fun and was a nice experience.

Jeff

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Before I go any further, I want to mention that this topic on last years trip was delayed so that Bill Beattie's article in the last issue of PALMS Vol. 51 march 2007 could be printed.

This leads us up to this palm in the photograph. It's a small Dypsis ambositrae that was only planted about 4 years ago. It's one of several that were obtained from local villagers down near the town of Ambositra.

Jeff

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Thanks Jeff, these photos bring back some good memories.  The palm garden at the Tsimbazaza is world class, with a lot of really old palms.

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Here's the small sign at the base of the palm.

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Overall look at the palm, which was less than 2' tall.

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One more showing the nice burgundy-red color in the new spear leaf.

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i think i'm in love! :P

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The following morning,Bill, myself and Guy Rafamantanantsoa all set out for a 3 hour drive NE of the capital. Guy is extreamly good on palm identification and has come along on many trips over the years. Our destination was a small town, Anjozorobe. Here, there is a small campground for mainly weekend tourist that want to get out of the capital for a few days. This photo shows the primitive campsite and kitchen area.

Jeff

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Here is Guy with the Palms of Madagascar book, trying to get an i.d. on a palm.  We all tried our best to key out every palm we saw, at least those that looked different from the others. And...if they were in flower. We think we saw six different species. Five different Dypsis species and one Ravenea. The Dypsis were, D. linearis, D. concinna, D. heterophylla, D. jumelliana(?) and D. nodifera. The one Ravenea was R. madagascariensis.

  We were at approx. 1200 m. in elevation. We hired a guide to go along with us and walked 5-6 hours.

Jeff

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This palm we thought was Dypsis linearis.

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Another Dypsis species with entire bifid leaves.

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This, maybe a form of Dypsis heteropyhlla.

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This was kind of a surprise to see. A small shrub growing in lots of shade with these pretty blue fruit on it.

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Here was something else growing. Some type of yellow spores.(?)

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Ripe fruit of a Dypsis sp.

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Possibly the solid leaf form of Dypsis heteropyhlla with ripe seeds.

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A close-up of the same.

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One of many thousands of ferns that you see everywhere. This one being a tree fern, not sure the species.

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We think this was Dypsis concinna, after the seed was removed.

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Guy with the book again and guide looking on.

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Ravenea madagascariensis(?) We saw very few of these in this area.

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Same species of Ravenea. (?) Does look a little different in the crown.

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Last picture before we headed back to Tana in the afternoon. Bill, Guy and our driver, taking a cigarette break.

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fascinating pix,jeff.thanks for posting them :)

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Coolness!  I emailed the "Lemur and Jeff" picture to my wife.  Maybe I'll get to Madagascar yet with these type of tactics.  Good ammo Jeff.

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Jeff,

Great pictures. We want more. I agree that the picture of you and the Lemurs is fantastic. When I show my girlfriend, she might even pay my way to madagascar.

(probably only if I promise not to come back though :( )

Thanks for the madagascar tour and I hope there's more :D

           Regards, Mike

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The lemurs convinced my wife to come to Madagascar with me, and she wasn't dissapointed!

Great pictures Jeff.  I think I also saw D. linearis in Andasibe, but I never found an ID for it.  I'll have to go back and look at my pictures...

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