Journey to a Palm Wonderland

In 2008, Jeff and Suchin joined a group including legendary palm botanist John Dransfield on an epic palm tour across the length of the island, from the wet forests of the northeast to the canyons of Isalo. We have selected moments from that trip to share the wonders of one of the most unique landscapes on the planet and the dynamic botanical surprises held within.


Tampolo is an area of villages on the western coast of the Masoala Peninsula, which allows access to Nosy Mangabe and the national park which are home to some of the most diverse and spectacular palm species in the world. A very wet rainforest makes hiking a challenge, but the reward is well worth the exploration.

John Dransfield from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew investigating the rare understory palm Dypsis pachyramea.

Satranala decussilvae

One of the most exciting discoveries right before the legendary book The Palms of Madagascar was published, a rare and mysterious member of the tribe Borasseae was hiding in the rainforest, a dazzling sight with huge silvery fan leaves.

Satranala decussilvae.JPG
Satranala decusisilvae.JPG

Madagascar’s palm diversity spans many genera, from fan palms like Satranala and Bismarckia, to pinnate species that arrange their crown in a distichous fashion, such as the magnificent Orania trispatha:


and, of course, the legendary Dypsis genus, with species spanning the spectrum of morphology, from finely pinnate to bifid leaves and sizes ranging from delicate to massive, their inflorescences ranging from unbranched spikes to complex chandeliers of flowers. 

D.procera split.JPG
D.fibrosa flower.JPG