An Eco-sustainable World
ArborealSpecies Plant

Dypsis nodifera

Dypsis nodifera

The bedoda (Dypsis nodifera Mart. 1849) is an arboreal species belonging to the Arecaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Liliopsida,
Subclass Arecidae,
Order Arecales,
Arecaceae family,
Subfamily Arecoideae,
Tribe Areceae,
Subtribe Dypsidinae,
Genus Dypsis,
Species D. nodifera.
The terms are synonymous:
– Dypsis polystachya Baker;
– Dypsis vilersiana Baill.;
– Phloga nodifera (Mart.) Pic.Serm.;
– Phloga nodifera (Mart.) Salomon;
– Phloga polystachya (Baker) Noronha ex Baill.;
– Phloga polystachya var. stenophylla Becc..

Etymology –
The term Dypsis comes from ancient Greek and the combination of two words: “dys”, meaning “evil” or “difficult”, and “opsis”, meaning “sight” or “appearance”, for unusual or strange appearance of palms belonging to this genus.
The specific epithet nodifera comes from the Latin “nodifer, era, erum”, equipped with nodes, with probable reference to the leaf scars on the stem.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Dypsis nodifera is a palm endemic to north-western, eastern and south-eastern Madagascar.
Its habitat is that of the humid forest, on medium steep or light slopes or in coastal woods on white sand, up to 1440 meters above sea level.

Description –
Dypsis nodifera is a monoecious palm with a solitary stem. The stem is 2-10 m high, with a diameter of 1.2-6 cm, sometimes protruding with only the distal part erect; the stem tapers towards the apex, green in color in the younger part, grayish in the older part, on which the rings traces of the attachment of the fallen leaves are visible.
The leaves are paripinnate, carried by a short petiole, slightly arched, up to 90 cm long, with oblong-ovate pinnules with a long pointed apex, irregularly arranged on the rachis in groups of 2-6 and inserted at different angles, long in the median part 12-35 cm and 1.5-4.5 cm wide, intense green in colour.
The leaf base entirely wraps the stem for a height of 15-30 cm, forming a sort of gray-green tubular capital with microscopic red-purple scales, denser in the terminal part.
The inflorescences are found on a peduncle 10-30 cm long, born between the leaves and enclosed in the initial growth phase in a reddish brown deciduous bract, 20-90 cm long with (2)-3(-4) orders of ramifications.
The flowers are unisexual and arranged in groups of three (one female flower in the middle of two male ones), red in bud, and present the phenomenon of protandry, the male flowers ripen before the female ones, this avoids self-fertilization favoring that crossed.
The fruits are ellipsoid, about 1 cm long and 0.7 cm in diameter.
Inside there is a single ellipsoid-shaped seed, 0.7 cm long and 0.5 cm in diameter, deeply ruminated (i.e. with the perisperm inserting into the endosperm).

Cultivation –
Dypsis nodifera is one of the most common and widespread palms in all of Madagascar, present from sea level up to almost 1500 m.
It is a very attractive species that looks strangely like D. pinnatifrons and, without flowers and/or fruit, it is impossible to distinguish them. The two species may even grow in the same habitat and area, to add to the confusion, but generally the current species is the smaller and more slender of the two.
It is a palm with notable ornamental characteristics that can be grown in tropical and humid subtropical climate areas, as it cannot tolerate temperatures close to 0 °C unless exceptional and for very short periods of time.
This plant can be grown in a slightly shaded, humid position with well-drained soil. It is suitable for growing in private gardens and easy to grow.
Due to the small size and the elegance of the foliage, the young specimens are well suited to cultivation in pots, in a substrate rich in organic substance with the addition of 25% agri-perlite, for the decoration of open spaces, where the climate allows it, or of greenhouses, verandas and winter gardens, even in poorly lit situations, with minimum temperatures not lower than 14 °C and environmental humidity around 60%.
The plant reproduces by seed, previously kept in water for three days, in an aerated and draining substrate kept humid at a temperature of 22-24 °C, with germination times of 1-4 months.

Customs and Traditions –
Dypsis nodifera is a palm known by the common names of: bedoda, ovana, sira (Malagasy).
This palm holds a certain importance for indigenous populations.
Its fruits are sometimes consumed locally, as are the vegetative tips, the “hearts of palm”, and a sugary liquid is collected from the pollarded plants for a fermented drink.
The young stems, reduced to longitudinal strips, are used for ropes and fishing nets, the leaves as fodder for livestock, and the pinnules for making hats.
The straight stems of adult plants, divided lengthwise in half, are still used in local construction for walls and floors, being long-lasting.
Furthermore, the excavated stems are used as blowpipes for poisoned darts.
From an ecological point of view, although still very widespread in nature, the numerous uses that involve the death of the plant, together with the reduction of forests in favor of agriculture, could drastically reduce its presence in the near future. However, the species is not currently threatened.

Preparation Method –
Dypsis nodifera is a palm that is of some interest among the populations of Madagscar where it grows endemic.
The plant is used in the food field; the fruits are eaten which are sometimes consumed locally and also the vegetative tips (palm hearts).
Furthermore, a sugary liquid useful for fermented drinks is collected from the pollarded plants.
Among other uses, it should be remembered that the young stems, reduced to longitudinal strips, are used to make ropes and fishing nets.
The leaves are given as fodder for livestock and the pinnules for making hats.
Furthermore, the straight stems of adult plants, divided lengthwise in half, are used in local constructions for walls and floors.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

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