Dictyosperma H.Wendl. & Drude
  • Linnaea 39: 181 (1875) 

Notes: Distribution: Mascarenes

General Description

Stout, solitary, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious palm. Stem erect, sometimes enlarged at the base, brown or grey, often vertically fissured. Leaves pinnate, spreading with arched, ±pendulous leaflets; sheath tubular, forming a prominent crownshaft, thinly to densely white, grey or brown tomentose; petiole very short, nearly flat to slightly rounded adaxially, abaxially rounded, tomentose marginally and adaxially, the scales with blackish centres and pale, tattered-twisted margins, deciduous, leaving dot-like scars; rachis adaxially angled with scales as on the petiole, abaxially rounded; leaflets lanceolate, acute, single-fold, subopposite, regularly arranged, abaxially with pale to dark brown, twisted, basifixed or medifixed membranous ramenta on the midrib, midrib conspicuous adaxially, transverse veinlets not evident. Inflorescences infrafoliar, protandrous, as many as 6 present below the crownshaft, erect in bud, branched to 1 order, branches stiff, ascending, ± unilateral; peduncle very short, dorsiventrally compressed, grey-brown tomentose; prophyll tubular, bluntly pointed, rather wide, shortly 2-keeled laterally, glabrous or with deciduous grey tomentum, splitting adaxially, caducous; peduncular bract like the prophyll, lacking keels, beaked, rather thin, fibrous; rachis longer than the peduncle, stout, tapering, ± densely covered with twisted hairs or glabrous, bearing acute or low rounded bracts subtending rachillae on 3 sides, lacking rachillae adaxially, at least toward the base; rachillae moderate, tapering, stiff, ascending, becoming recurved, glabrous or hairy only at the base, bearing triads in the lower 1/2–4/5, and paired staminate flowers distally; floral bracteoles low, flattened, not sepal-like. Staminate flowers sessile or briefly pedicellate, yellow to maroon, asymmetrical; sepals 3, distinct, slightly imbricate at the base only, acute, keeled and ± gibbous towards the base; petals 3, distinct, valvate, ovate, acute, with an outer layer of thick fibres and tannin cells; stamens 6, filaments stout, inflexed at the apex in bud, anthers dorsifixed near the middle, becoming versatile, linear-lanceolate, briefly bifid at the apex, more deeply bifid basally, the locules in bud separated by a very narrow sterile portion, latrorse; pistillode nearly as long as the stamens, tapered to a slender tip from a broad base. Pollen ellipsoidal symmetric or slightly asymmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, psilate and sparsely perforate (in some collections with small sparsely distributed club-shaped spinulae) aperture margin similar; infratectum columellate; longest axis 40–60 µm [1/1]. Pistillate flowers ovoid, smaller than the staminate; sepals 3, distinct, imbricate, broadly rounded; petals 3, distinct, broadly imbricate, very briefly valvate at the apex; staminodes 3, small, triangular, at one side of the gynoecium; gynoecium ovoid, unilocular, uniovulate, stigmas scarcely differentiated, not exserted or recurved, ovule large, prominently vascularised, attached laterally in upper part of locule, hemianatropous. Fruit ovoid or ovoid-ellipsoidal, black or purplish at maturity, stigmatic remains apical; epicarp smooth when fresh, wrinkled but not pebbled when dry, mesocarp with an external and an internal layer of elongate, vertically oriented parenchyma cells with some flat, thin, longitudinal fibres between the layers, cells of the inner layer longer and overlying a layer of contiguous thickened fibres and a thin layer of ± isodiametric tannin cells adherent to the endocarp, endocarp horny, with round basal operculum and scar of seed attachment extending the length of the adaxial side to the acute apex. Seed ovoid-ellipsoidal, acute, brown, with elongate hilum and only slightly anastomosing raphe branches descending from the apex, endosperm deeply ruminate; embryo basal. Germination adjacent-ligular; eophyll bifid. Cytology: 2n = 32.

Diagnostic Description

Beautiful moderate solitary pinnate-leaved palm native to Mascarene Islands, with conspicuous crownshaft, and inflorescence shaped like a horse’s tail.


Leaf (Tomlinson 1961) and fruit (Essig et al. 1999).


It grows from sea level to 600 m or more, nearly extinct in the wild state, cultivated on Mauritius, Reunion and elsewhere.


One species in the Mascarene Islands.


Peduncle relatively slender, elongate, elliptical in cross-section; prophyll Frequently grown as an ornamental.

Common Names

Princess palm, hurricane palm.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Africa Western Indian Ocean Mauritius
  • Rodrigues
  • Réunion


  • 1 J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008
  • 2 Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

 Information From

Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet http://www.palmweb.org. Accessed on 21/04/2013
  • A Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
  • B http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from http://e-monocot.org.
  • C Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/ Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • D See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement.