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PALM MOD

THE TOPIC THAT STARTED EVERYTHING - A Must Read.

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PALM MOD

It was 2006 and a typical day in PalmTalk Land when I logged in to check out the latest. I clicked on one of the newer topics - "Borassus or Corypha in Madagascar?" Another pic needing an ID I thought. Should be easy. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

What began was in my opinion the most exciting event in PalmTalk history. It began like this - from Bruno, a Frenchman who explored Madagascar and posted many times on PalmTalk sharing his travels.

As the story unfolded it became testament to the importance of the IPS and its mission. "The International Palm Society, Inc. is operated solely and exclusively for scientific and/or educational purposes related to the study of palms, their propagation, culture, conservation, care, and development." It was also an example of how exciting and enjoyable a love of palms can be when shared on PalmTalk - totally owned and sponsored by the IPS for your enjoyment and education.

The short story is that one of our more astute and eagle-eyed Users (Matt in SD) noticed some nuances in the appearance of this palm in Bruno's pics. He contacted Dr. John Dransfield who wrote the "Bible" of Madagascar palms among many other noteworthy accomplishments in his tenure at Royal Botanical Gardens Kew in England. What followed was tantamount to a mystery novel for palm geeks. It was soon written about worldwide in numerous publications, and became known dubiously as the "Suicide Palm" - officially described later by Dr. Dransfield as Tahina spectabilis

Everyone should read (or re-read, since it has been 13 years) this story (the link is following). It is a real time step-by-step beginning with this first glimpse in one of Bruno's several excellent topics of his travels in Madagascar.

BRUNO: (Dec. 4 2006) A friend of mine was here the other day he lives 150km north of Mahajanga on the west coast of Madagascar. No road goes there, only a boat or a small plane can reach the area. He sent me 2 pictures of a fantastic looking palm, enormous.

So when you see this palm you cannot say it is a corypha because no one planted it there except nature. Do you know it? It is a giant one growing in a geological formation called "Tsingy" here in malagasy. This palm is known locally as a "dimbaka".

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MATT IN SD: Definitely not Borassus, as that is clearly a monocarpic palm, and I also don't think there are any palmate leaved palms other than Corypha that have a flower spike even remotely similar to that.  If that is a native Madagascar palm, I'd imagine it would be quite an exciting discovery...but then maybe I'm missing something obvious?

The intriguing story then unfolds in a separate dedicated topic, as it is realized that something special has been discovered. The PalmTalk topic that changed everything. Borassus or Corypha in madagascar? It is well worth the read.

This spectacular palm is critically endangered. Because of PalmTalk's special relationship with Tahina, we are taking the lead in helping the IPS raise funds to preserve this palm and its habitat through a program established and dedicated to helping and giving the surrounding villagers the means and desire to assure this palm and habitat is conserved. There is a new Forum dedicated to raising funds for this purpose. HERE

Some additional photos below courtesy of "Palms" the official Journal of the IPS and included with IPS Membership.

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Crowns of Tahina spectabilis in the setting sun at Antsingilava, Madagascar (Photo by Lauren Gardiner, RBG Kew).

 

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Alison Shapcott measuring young adult Tahina spectabilis plants at Antsingilava, Madagascar (Photo by Lauren Gardiner, RBG Kew).

 

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Adult Tahina spectabilis in the wild at Antsingilava, Madagascar (Photo by David Rabehevitra, KMCC).

 

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Lauren Gardiner preparing a herbarium specimen from a juvenile leaf of Tahina spectabilis, near Amparahibe, Madagascar (Photo by David Rabehevitra, KMCC).

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