Palm (Ravenea louvelii)

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Ravenea louvelii
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Palm fact file

Palm description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderArecales
FamilyPalmae
GenusRavenea (1)

Ravenea louvelii is a small, squat palm of the rainforest understory (2). It resembles a shuttlecock in appearance (3); the long leaves can extend as far as three metres from the short stem (2). The leaves act as a 'litter trap', funnelling dead leaves and other debris into a heap at the centre of the crown and thus producing the palm's very own compost heap (3). Slender, dark green leaflets extend from the long leaf axis (2). Male and female trees are separate (3), but the flowers of both are hidden amongst the leaf bases; they have a musty scent and are cream in colour (2). The globular, purple fruits are also well hidden, and the seeds are oval and flat (2).

Size
Trunk height: 1.5 - 3 m (2)
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Palm biology

The hidden nature and musty odour of the flowers suggest that they are probably pollinated by beetles (2).

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Palm range

Only known from Andasibe in Eastern Madagascar (2). Population numbers are worryingly low and as few as 10 mature trees may remain (1).

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Palm habitat

This palm is found on the crest of a ridge within disturbed montane forest, around 800 metres above sea level (3).

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Palm status

Ravenea louvelii is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Critically Endangered

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Palm threats

Deforestation to make way for agriculture is a major threat to many different species in Madagascar. Additionally, Ravenea louvelii may only be found on a single ridge-top where it is highly vulnerable to disturbance, and fruit dispersal appears to be extremely limited (3). Over-collection by palm enthusiasts provides a further threat to the survival of this unusual species (3).

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Palm conservation

This palm is currently not found within any protected areas and gathering more information on the restricted nature of the population is a conservation priority (3).

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Authentication

Authenticated (2/7/03) by Dr. John Dransfield. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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Glossary

Leaflets
The individual 'leaf-like' parts of a compound leaf.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2013)
    http://www.redlist.org
  2. Dransfield, J. and Beentje, H. (1995) The Palms of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, London.
  3. Dransfield, J. (September, 2002) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Pers. comm.
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Image credit

Ravenea louvelii  
Ravenea louvelii

© Olivier REILHES

Olivier REILHES
olivier.reilhes@gmail.com

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