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Origin and Habitat: Northern, north-western, north-eastern and eastern Madagascar, but widely cultivated outside Madagascar as an ornamental in many tropical regions.
Altitude: From sea-level up to 450 m.
Habitat: It grows in moist coastal rainforest on slopes, often in clearings or near forest margins, or near water, in gullies, also in coastal forest on white sand.
ENGLISH: Red Neck Palm of Madagascar, Redneck, Red-sheathed triangular palm, Redneck palm, Red neck palm, Teddy Bear, Teddy bear palm
FRENCH (Français): Palmier à col rouge de Madagascar, Palmier col rouge de Madagascar (Réunion)
MALAGASY: Sira, Ravintsira, Menavozona
Description: Dypsis lastelliana is a large slender feathery palm with long drooping leaflets and the petioles weep toward the trunk. The palm has ornamental value, particularly because of its peculiar densely red-brown hairy crownshaft.
Trunk: Large with a flare at the bottom up to 20(-25) m tall (but usually less than 15 m tall in captivity), 18–25 cm in diameter, and usually covered with a white powdery dust.
Crownshaft: 70–75 cm long covered in thick dark, redder-brown to purple-black tomentum.
Leaves: Pinnate-compound, 9–15 in the crown, arranged spirally, very upright, sheath 40–60 cm long, partially open, brilliantly red adaxially, densely red-brown pubescent abaxially, petiole up to 10 cm long, rachis pale green up to 380 cm long; leaflets (50–)94–102 on each side of the rachis perfectly arranged and slightly drooping, basal leaflets up to 60 cm long, median leaflets up to 90 cm long, upper leaflets up to 50 cm long.
Inflorescence: More or less pendulous arising between the leaves, branched to 3 orders, spreading; peduncle 60–96 cm long; bracts up to 110 cm long; rachis c. 97 cm long, branches up to 47 cm long, glabrous, pale or yellowish green, with the flowers in triads of 1 central female flower and 2 lateral male flowers.
Fruit: It is an obovoid drupe 18–24 mm × 12–17 mm, slightly asymmetrical with one seed.
Seed: Ovoid, 12–21 mm × 10.5–16 mm; endosperm ruminate.
Remarks: Dypsis lastelliana is often confused with another palm also known as the "teddy bear" or “Redneck “ palm: Dypsis leptocheilos, but it is slower and more difficult to grow. Moreover Dypsis lastelliana has gracefully drooping leaflets, where Dypsis leptocheilos has leaflets that are a little more horizontal. Also Dypsis lastelliana does have more upright growth and is taller and more elegant.
Bibliography: Major references
• Boiteau, P., Boiteau, M. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1999. Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux. 4 Volumes + Index des noms scientifiques avec leurs équivalents malgaches. Editions Alzieu, Grenoble, France.
• Byg, A. & Balslev, H., 2001. Diversity and use of palms in Zahamena, eastern Madagascar. Biodiversity and Conservation 10(6): 951–970.
• Dransfield, J. & Beentje, H.J., 1995. The palms of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and The International Palm Society, United Kingdom. 475 pp.
• Ellison, D. & Ellison, A., 2001. Cultivated palms of the world. University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, Australia. 257 pp.
• Riffle, R.L. & Craft, P., 2003. An encyclopedia of cultivated palms. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, United States. 516 pp.
Cultivation and Propagation: It is easy to grow and best suited to warm subtropical and tropical regions and planted in gardens and parks. Young palms make attractive house plants. It is is a slow to fast grower depending on cultural practices of the gardener and climate condition. As it is one of the more impressive palm species, it is the one of the more grown ornamental palm in the tropics.
Soil: It is adaptable to many kinds of well drained soils.
Fertilization: For a fast and strong growth it needs plenty of fertilizer; use a perfect fertilizer diet specifically formulated for palms including all micro nutrients and trace elements or slow release fertilizer applied during the growin season, or according to package directions. In soil with hight pH (alkaline) use an acidifying water soluble product, as well as several treatments of magnesium sulphate.
Water Requirements: This species prefers hot humid summers so give regular and abundant water (especially in summer), do not let dry out between waterings. however it does not want to sit in continually wet, mucky soil. The roots and lower trunk can rot if soil is kept too moist.
Light: It prefers bright sunny locations, but it also does well in light shade.
Aerosol salt tolerance: It is moderately salt tolerant and may be grown near the sea if given some protection (behind a dune, building, etc.)
Wind resistance: It is moderately wind tolerant, but does not endure drying desert winds.
Hardiness: This palm has tolerated temperatures down to 0ºC. However it can be difficult to get it to look its best without a great amount of heat and sun. (USDA Zone 9b-11).
Ornamental uses: It is used in gardening and landscaping and it is very well suited to line the streets of tropical cities and towns. It is also excellent in containers.
Traditional uses: The leaves are used for thatching, the petioles for rice trays, and the hairs covering the leaf sheath for stuffing. The leaves are also used for decoration, for instance of churches and village entrances.
Other uses: Edible larvae are collected from the trunks. The palm heart is bitter and inedible; it is said to be poisonous.
Propagation: By seed that germinate in 2–4 months.
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