New Palm Species Discovered

Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 27th, 2008

The leaves of Tahina spectabilis. (Credit: John Dransfield)

It appears this one has been hiding in plain sight.

A new species of palm tree was newly described early in 2008 (Dransfield & Rakotoarinivo, 2008) in Madagascar – one which grows for as long as 50 years and as high as 60-feet high, bursts into flower and then dies. Named Tahina spectabilis, the new palm is so massive it can be seen in Google Earth.

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.

T. spectabilis (above) normally appears much like other palms. However, when it flowers, which John Dransfield of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (the so-called “Kew Gardens” near London, England) 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 18 m (59 ft) tall and leaves which are over 5 m (16 ft) in diameter.

(I had earlier posted on this story, here, but new details mandated an update.)

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

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