Tahina

Tahina

Tahina spectabilis is a rare palm that is found in northern Madagascar. The species is apparently sufficiently different from other known palms to justify the creation of the genus Tahina, which is now included with three other genera in the tribe Chuniophoeniceae, the other members being found in the Arabian peninsula, Thailand and China. Fewer than one hundred individuals of the species are thought to exist.

Discovery

The palm was discovered by French cashew plantation manager Xavier Metz and his family, who were strolling through a remote northwestern region of Madagascar in 2007 when they came across a flowering individual and sent photos to the Kew Gardens for identification.

Its name is derived from "Tahina", a Malagasy word meaning "to be protected" or "blessed", being the given name of Anne-Tahina Metz, the daughter of its discoverer, while "spectabilis" means spectacular in Latin.

Description

T. spectabilis normally appears much like other palms. However, when it flowers, which John Dransfield of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew estimates as occurring after 30 to 50 years, the stem tip grows a large inflorescence that bursts into branches of hundreds of flowers. The drain on nutrients this display entails results in the death of the organism within several months.

The palm is the largest of the 170 palm species native to Madagascar, having a trunk up to tall and leaves which are over in diameter.

Notes

References

  • Dransfield, J., Rakotoarinivo, M., Baker, W.J., Bayton, R.P., Fisher, J.B., Horn, J.W., Leroy, B., Metz, X. (2008). "A new Coryphoid palm genus from Madagascar". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 156(1), 79-91.

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