Tahina Palm Facts
- The remarkable Tahina Palm ranks as a species of palm considered both quite unique and extremely rare. Now that equals a combination deserving of our attention.
- Botanists recognized one lone example in 2007. To date, we know of fewer than 100 individual surviving members of the family. Of these, only 30 represent mature specimens.
- The Tahina Palm also possesses an extraordinary evolutionary trait. After reaching maturity (between 30-50 years), the tree suddenly produces a rather enormous inflorescence, which quickly bursts into hundreds of flowers.
- It then perishes completely within a few months, comprising one last gasp of life.
Tahina Palm Physical Description
The Tahina Palm attains a height of roughly 59 ft (18 m). In diameter, the width of its fan-shaped leaves also often equals 1/4 the height of the tree itself. Imagine the huge shade provided by these.
The rather bountiful flowers that the Tahina Palm produces once, and only once, at the end of its’ life are a bright white in color. These form on the large stem that protrudes as much as 15 ft (4.6 m) above the crown of the tree.
This island species is dependent upon local fauna for reproduction. Lemurs, in particular, appear drawn to the numerous fruits the tree forms just months prior to its death. The seeds then spread via the droppings of the lemurs.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Monocots
- Order: Arecales
- Family: Arecaceae
- Genus: Tahina
- Species: T. spectabilis
Tahina Palm Distribution, Habitat, and Preservation
The Tahina Palm only occurs in one rather tiny region. This region is in the Analalava District, on the island of Madagascar.
All of the roughly 100 known specimens are grouped together in an area comprising less than 2 sq mi (5 sq km). This area is a combination of small hills and flatland. That forms their entire known habitat range.
Due to these factors, the IUCN has understandably listed the Tahina Palm as Critically Endangered.
Despite this listing, however, the area they inhabit remains without formal protection. The species is threatened by both wildfire and grazing herds.