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Jeff Searle

Discovering Dypsis ambositrae

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Jeff Searle

During my second trip to Madagascar, we were very fortunate to come across the true D. ambositrae in the wild. With all the discussion about this obscure species I decided to bring to light what we found earlier this year.

The following photos of the small plant were taken in the capital, Tana, in the botanical garden.

2006-04-08_07-02-34.jpg

2006-04-08_06-59-00.jpg

Jeff

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Jeff Searle

This moderate sized individual was found on a hill side just outside the town of Ambositra. The elevation in this area is approx. 3000 feet.

2006-04-20_01-46-38.jpg

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Jeff Searle

A close-up of the same palm, showing the bright white, waxy crownshafts. In the POM book the species is described as being either solitary or clustering.

2006-04-20_01-45-54.jpg

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Jeff Searle

Here is our group posing around the palm. From left to right: Pete Balasky, our trusted guide Pierrot, and our familiar botanist Guy. These palms are extremely rare, we saw only a few mature individuals scattered throughout the hills.

2006-04-20_01-44-40.jpg

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Jeff Searle

Here is the grandfather of all these palms. This very old specimen is considered sacred to the local people. It is an ancestral part of their families' heritage, and protected from being cut down. The homeowner who's property this palm resides on, estimated its age at around 50 years.

2006-04-20_02-21-34.jpg

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palmsrgreat

Wow! These are amazing. Great pics! i love the white crownshafts!

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Jeff Searle

Here is a another angle of the same palm, showing Bill Beattie (left) and Pete Balasky (right). The palm was growing on the side of a hill, and had a trunk 30 to 40 feet tall.

2006-04-20_02-28-12.jpg

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Al in Kona

Thanks for helping clear up some of the confusion about Dypsis ambositae.  Now I'd like to know what to call the palm that most of us previously thought was D. ambositrae . . . this one . . .

post-90-1154549976_thumb.jpg

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Jeff Searle

Here is another close-up of the crown from below. The distinctive leaves have upright leaflets and are quite the sight to behold. Here is the last photo of this palm for now. More will follow when I post the entire trip in a few months.

2006-04-20_02-27-14.jpg

Jeff

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Matt in SD

Great photos Jeff, thanks for posting.  That is a nice palm, much nicer in my opinion than the fakey ambositrae.  Because several of us in Daryl's mystery Dypsis post saw similarities between Daryl's potential D ambositrae and the palm recently sold as Dypsis 'kindreo' I'm re-posting the photo of Dypsis kindreo from Alfred's nursery.  I am pretty sure Alfred is the source of the recent Dypsis 'kindreo' so this would almost certainly be the palm.  It looks similar to me but is lacking the red new petioles...

post-1-49760-P_pini_re_Alfred_007_1.jpg

I have a palm that was given to me a couple years ago lableled as Dypspis ambositrae 'australian seed'.  I'll try to get a photo of that plant although it came with another labeled as D baronii and I now don't know which is which (except that neither looks like baronii).

Matt

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DoomsDave

Hmm.

Are the good old "Six O'Clock Palms" (my name, because of the way the leaves grow straight up and the roots grow straight down) not the same as the ones in the picture?

Some of my skinny specimens are getting a lot beefier with age.  None are multis, but that might or might not mean anything.

Gonna have some fun looking at my garden tonight, on my escape from the Dark Tower.

dave

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DoomsDave

Al, yours looks a lot like the specimens on the Big M.

Hmm.  The plot thickens . . .

dave

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Dypsisdean

I'm with Al in Kona. Has anyone ventured a guess as to what the fake D. ambo. is? There were tons of those seeds around, so it can't be that rare. And it's fairly distinct looking. But I don't recall anyone ever suggesting an ID.

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Daryl

Jeff, glorious photos! Hope you don't mind me downloading them!  It is such a good looker!

Dave and Al, the Dypsis 'fine leaf' that Al has is totally different, as discussed on the old board. There are some old mature specimens growing in Brizbin and next time I'm there I'll take some photos. The seeds I've grown off them are the typical 'fine leaf' or 'fakey ambositrae'.  

The leaves are totally different on these species...fakey has a more plumose arrangement with the leaflets coming off the rachis at different angles, whereas the true ambositrae has leaflets that are in a single plane, but coming off the rachis at 60 degrees or so and then arching. Who knows how the flowers compare, as I'm no taxonomist, but the plants do look totally different...even the leaf arrangement..spiral in ambositrae and tristichous in 'fakey'.

regards,

Daryl.

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STEVE IN SO CAL

I've solved this identity crisis...I've planted two fakeys and one Searle type in one pot. When they are planted, they will have a sign that reads"Definately Ambositrae"

Who will argue then?

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Matt in SD

Looking at those palms some more, they sure look a lot like Dypsis saintlucei.  Same leaf shape, leaflet angle, crown color, new petiole coloration etc...  

I'm not questioning the accuracy of your ID Jeff (you know way more than I do about Dypsis!), but how do you ID these in habitat?  It doesn't look like any of the palms in your photos had flowers.

Matt

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Dave-Vero

Here's the local (Brevard County, Florida) take on the "fake."  

2ndlight.com gardening forum

Regrettably, the link to the Palm Talk thread no longer works.

It looks as though the "fine leaf" Dypsis may be an undescribed species.  It nevertheless may make a nice Florida palm.  My baby's looking good.  And no, I'm not the Dave on that forum.  Nor Paddleout (whose yard I admire)

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DoomsDave

Fakey or not, I love 'em, and I've got a lot.  If Searle turns out to be different (I'm suspecting it will), then Mongo like one (or two, or three) too . . . .

dave

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SunnyFl

(Jeff Searle @ Aug. 02 2006,16:21)

QUOTE
Here is another close-up of the crown from below. The distinctive leaves have upright leaflets and are quite the sight to behold. Here is the last photo of this palm for now. More will follow when I post the entire trip in a few months.

Jeff, it is breathtaking!  Oh - to have seen it up close.

It's just so.... perfect.

I don't suppose it will ever be in cultivation here, will it.

Would you mind if I save the pictures?

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SunnyFl

(Al in Kona @ Aug. 02 2006,16:19)

QUOTE
Thanks for helping clear up some of the confusion about Dypsis ambositae.  Now I'd like to know what to call the palm that most of us previously thought was D. ambositrae . . . this one . . .

Al, that looks a lot like my "mystery dypsis" - which Jeff (and also Neil of GTC) call the "Fine Leaf."  This palm is a very nice one and deserves to be used in our landscapes a lot more - at least as much as the lutescens.

It badly wants a species name.  Is the name dubium taken?  I'm thinking that was the indication that a species' identity could be doubtful or could be mistaken for something else - which certainly happened with the fine-leaf :)

Dave in Vero said,

It looks as though the "fine leaf" Dypsis may be an undescribed species.  It nevertheless may make a nice Florida palm.  My baby's looking good.
  Nice to hear your palm is doing so well!  I guess it's probably a "sibling" of my 3 big guys, which I got from the same place.  Mine are also doing very well - and seems to be wind-resistant (a big plus here).  

Even the seedling I got is doing well!  Growing like a lil weed, wanting to grow up quick.

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Robert Lee Riffle

Sunny--

You may be thinking of the epithet "decipiens."

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SunnyFl

(Robert Lee Riffle @ Aug. 02 2006,22:30)

QUOTE
Sunny--

You may be thinking of the epithet "decipiens."

Yes!  That would have been perfect - except that D. decipiens is already taken.

Although, I believe you wrote that it wasn't particularly applicable to the D. decipiens, so that could be re-named something else, and Fine-Leaf could be the new decipiens  :D

Dang! our little Fine-Leaf needs a name.

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Jeff Searle

OK.....this is starting to get good. I like that, and think that it's important . The more imput from many people from all over,the better. The more photos we can share amongst ourselves, the clearer it becomes. All we need now is, for John Dransfield to jump in and really help us clear this up some.

 

Al in Kona....your picture looks very close to what has been in the trade known as Dypsis sp." Fine Leaf" from plants seeding in Australia. The fake D. Ambositrae. The leaf arraingement looks a little different then our plants here in S. Fla. Maybe its different altogether..??

 I'd like to mention also that this new emerging red spear that is in the photograph of the small juvinile plants, is not something that we witnessed on larger trees. IMO, this is just a juvenile characteristic of this palm.

 Dypsisdean....while attending the IPS biennial in Thailand, I remember asking JD when we walked past a small D. sp. "Fine Leaf", if he knew what it was. And he replied, I don't know. Maybe now, if he sees these pictures he can shed some light.

Matt....I think if you look in the POM book, you will see that D.ambositrae and D. saintlucei are very different. For example, seeds of D. saint. are ellipsoid in shape ,where as seeds from the palms in the pic.'s are round. The rate of growth in the first two years are like night and day. The D. saint. grows like a weed and can be at least 4' tall in a 3gal. pot. Also, according to the book, D.saint. comes from the far southeastern coast, compared to D. ambos. growing in the high plateaux in the lower center of the country. D. saint. grows at sealevel ,and D. ambos. is found up to 1500 meters.

    Again,if JD has a moment to kindly comment on all this, we would all be very grateful.

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Dave-Vero

Got Stern's Latin in hand.  

dubius: (adj.  A): doubtful.

decipiens:  (part. B):  deceiving (used of a species closely resembling another); cf. FALLAX

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Dypsisdean

Adding to Jeff's points about any differences in the St. Luce and the newly IDed D. ambositrae---St. luce has a slight blue/silver backside to the leaflets that persists in adults. The new spear in the juvenile St. Luce is black. Also, the St. Luce is very upright, a tall and skinny young plant.

I feel fairly certain that we have finally found the true "Ambo." Now, as to the 'fine leaf,' I can't believe someone doesn't even have a guess. Someone must know where all of that seed came from. For a while, there seemed to be so much of it around. It had to be easily accessible. Perhaps it changes so much from a juvenile to mature adult, no one has made the connection yet.

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SunnyFl

(Dypsisdean @ Aug. 03 2006,00:09)

QUOTE
Now, as to the 'fine leaf,' I can't believe someone doesn't even have a guess. Someone must know where all of that seed came from. For a while, there seemed to be so much of it around. It had to be easily accessible. Perhaps it changes so much from a juvenile to mature adult, no one has made the connection yet.

Is there any possibility that it might be a natural hybrid of two other dypsis species?  And since it's an intra-generic mix (unlike the butiagrus), that it may be fertile? Just a thought.

The ambositrae is a gem.  I keep going back to those photos and staring at it.  Beautiful!

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Dypsisdean

Sunny, That's why it would be useful to know where that seed came from. If it came from a cultivated palm, you may be right. A hybrid would certainly fool everyone.

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SunnyFl

Thanks for posting the link.  Reading through the thread, I found this quote from Tyrone:

If Madagascar loses its wild population, as bad as that is, the world will never lose decaryi to extinction. The same can't be said for ambositrae. If the wild form is different from faky ambo (I love faky ambo anyway and would love to see it grown as much as decaryi here) and we lose it, it's gone for good. To try to preserve ambositrae we first need to know what it is. I'm not saying lets raid the wild trees for all there seeds and get every man and his dog growing them in unsustainable climates where they'll never reproduce anyway, and produce a seed black market like the foxtail palm seed smuggling rackets that happened in Oz. If we know what ambositrae is we can take action to propogate it and introduce it to culture in suitable climates around the world, and being a high altitude palm, it suits non-equatorial climates better than a lot of other cultivated palms around.

...Us palmy people are probably the best group on Earth to keep this palm from going the Hyophorbe amaricaulis direction.

Tyrone, I hope you don't mind - I added the underlining.

This is so true.  Of course, it could be difficult, if seed for the mystery dypsis continues to be sold as ambositrae.  But both deserve widespread distribution - what a tragedy if the stunning ambositrae were allowed to vanish.

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DoomsDave

Here's a pic of what appears to be my fakey Amby, the Six O'Clock Palm.  One year from a fiver, La Habra, CA USA

dave

normal_DSCF0014~1.JPG

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JD in the OC

Sunny,

You're right on about the hybrid seeds.  (Although, it would be an inter-specific hybrid (Dypsis x Dypsis).)

A Butiagrus is an inter-generic hybrid.

Hey, my Dypsis decaryi x leptocheilos seeds are almost ripe!!!

JD

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Howeadypsis

Fantastic pics Jeff, I love the white crownshatfs,look so good!

In the pic showing two plants, is that two seperate individuals or one that has clumped?

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Daryl

I've grown seed off the faky ambos (about 20 seedlings) and they all looked identical. The largest are starting to form a trunk now and look the same as the parent, and all other Fakys I see growing in collections etc.  

I was under the impression that if hybrids set fertile seed the offspring would be F2 and there would be a mix of hybrid seedlings, along with seedlings of the original hybrid's parent plants. With this in mind I would hazard a guess that 'faky' is a valid stable species not a hybrid, and just hasn't been named yet. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Daryl.

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tikitiki

I have three in my yard ( fakey) and if I can ever get a picture to post I will post them. I just need a name for mine in the back yard. As for seedlings looking like the parent plant you have to take into consideration that the are still seedlings and may not be true to the parent upon maturity. Then you have to consider do all plants in cultivation display the same as they do in their specific habitat? As for offspring and viability did you have 100 percent germination? If not, are the ungerminated seeds the hybrids that could of displayed a different look,  but were genetically unstable? Then there are dominant genes within a hybrid that would mask some details until the are required for survival. Either way it is wonderful in its own way and grows like a weed in central Florida.  I would not ask for my money back simply because the guy in Redland told me the wrong name 3 years ago. Lets just name it. And who says a hybrid can't be stable?

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SunnyFl

(JD in the OC @ Aug. 03 2006,17:03)

QUOTE
Hey, my Dypsis decaryi x leptocheilos seeds are almost ripe!!!

JD

A triangle-teddy!  (sorry, couldn't resist)

Sunny,

You're right on about the hybrid seeds.  (Although, it would be an inter-specific hybrid (Dypsis x Dypsis).)

A Butiagrus is an inter-generic hybrid.

True - but I hope I typed intra-generic (within a genus) as opposed to inter, which as you said, would be Butiagrus :)   But the term you used "inter-specific" is clearer and more precise.

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Tyrone

Jeff, Thankyou thankyou thankyou for posting those pics. I hope you don't mind if I save them onto my computer for future reference. This little topic has intrigued me for some time now.

It's good to hear that the grand daddy ambositrae is considered sacred and will be looked after by the locals. That is very good news.

When I first looked at your pics of the juvenile in Tana, it instantly reminded me of D decipiens with that red spear etc. Also the white crownshaft looked remarkably like D decipiens. The recurved leaf in a V is so much like D decipiens also, and of course the altitude is the same. But the extra fine leaf is different to decipiens. Did you see any individuals with more than two trunks. D decipiens is meant to be dichotomous, but I've seen individuals with up to 5 trunks forming, maybe that is another similarity with ambositrae. I would hazard a guess that genetically these two are similar. What a beautiful species. Thanks for the pics.

It's interesting to note that noone has seen D sp Fine Leaf in the wild officially yet. That could be a worry. Maybe it is gone already. It may already have gone before POM was written. However I did buy some seedlings called D ambositrae "wild seed" and these have grown like Fine Leaf. Assuming the seed DID come from M, then D Fine Leaf was still alive then. That JD didn't sight it is a worry. I do agree with Daryl that it's not a hybrid, as it is too stable. I do believe D Fine Leaf is a high altitude species too, because it grows fine in NZ, whereas D lutescens doesn't and D baronii does grow well, so it's cool tolerance is quite high. D sp Fine Leaf is totally unphased by my winters in the same way baronii is (but then my lutescens grow fine thru winter anyway)

I hope we can get the real ambositrae into cultivation soon, but of course done sensibly and responsibly.

best regards

Tyrone

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sebastian

Tyrone

I thought the exact same, when I first saw these great pics the similaritys to D. decepiens looks very nice and robust.

I also agree with what daryl has said about D. sp "fine leaf" being a separate sp and not a hybrid.

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SunnyFl

Btw, here's a pic of my Fine Leaf, taken on an overcast day - and not a great pic.

post-94-1154749591_thumb.jpg

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SunnyFl

And another, showing the crown/trunk detail

post-94-1154749827_thumb.jpg

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