The Bismarck palm, showpiece of Madagaskar

A abridged version of this article was published before in the "Hortuskrant" of March 2012 of the "Botanical Garden of Amsterdam"

 by Fred Triep  

In the just renovated Palm glasshouse grows the Bismarck palm. Not very rare, but a truly splendid palm.  

naar de Nederlandstalige pagina
(to the original Dutch version)

The Bismarck palm (Bismarckia nobilis) has been named after the famous Chancellor Bismarck in the nineteenth century, who has merged Germany. The palm is from Madagascar, the largest island in the world after Greenland, Borneo and New Guinea. Madagascar is home to many species of the palm family (Arecaceae). On the island occur 170 palm species (the much larger continent of Africa has only 65), of which 165 species are endemic, meaning that these species occur only in Madagascar.

De Bismarck palm in de Palmenkas 1 De Bismarck pal in de Palmenkas 2 Klik op de thumbnails, als je de grote foto's wilt zien

Far left and left: The Bismarck palm, which is standing in the  Palm greenhouse of the Botanical Garden of Amsterdam (respectively  in June 2012 and December 2011)
Right: A leaf of the Bismarckpalm

Photos: Fred Triep

Blad van de Bismarck palm

Fire-proof palm

Bismarckia nobilis grows in Madagascar in the savanna landscape, that runs off from of the central plateau to the west and the northwest coast of the island. This grassy landscape has been created by the frequent burning of natural vegetation for agriculture. The Bismarck palm, travelers plant (Ravenala madagascariensis) and tapia (Uapaca bojeri) are relatively fire resistant and have become therefore important elements of this grassy vegetation. The photos below show the landscapes where the green variety (along the RN 34 from Mihandrivazo to Malaimbandy) and the gray variety (along the RN 7 from Ihosy to Toliara) occur.

Landschap langs RN 34 met de groene varieteit De groene varieteit on zijn landfschap Click on the thumbnails, if you want to see large photos

Far left and left: Landscape along the RN 34 from Mihandrivazo to Malaimbandy with the green variety
Right and far right: Landscape along the RN 7 from Toliara to Ihosy with the silver gray variety.

Photos: Fred Triep

Het landschap langs de RN 7 met de zilvergrijze varieteit De zilvergrijze varieteit in zijn landschap langs de RN 7

The Bismarck palm is not threatened because it is widespread and occurs anywhere in reasonable numbers.

Useful and decorative

In Madagascar, the Bismarck palm has been named 'SATRA' or 'satrapotsy “after the village in Madagascar But also the name 'badika´ has used. The palm is widely used by the people. The trunks are smoothed and their boards can serve as fences, and from the leafs roofs and baskets are made.

At restaurant Badika at the RN 35 (Antsirabe-Morondava) are the poles, supporting the roof struts, from this palm. The roof is made of palm leaves, but this was at the time of shooting (april 2012) renovated. The old and the new palm leaves were waiting outside at the restaurant.

Buitenkant van Restaurant Badika Interieur van Restaurant Badika Click on the thumbnails, if you want to see large photos

Far left en left: Restaurant Badika at the RN 34 from Mihandrivazo to Malaimbandy
Right: The old leaves coming from the roof
Far right: The new leaves for the roof

Photos: Fred Triep

Oude bladeren, die van het dak komen Nieuwe bladeren, die op het dak komen

 Outside Madagascar, this palm is much cultivated for its ornamental value. It grows well in (sub) tropical areas and tolerates moist to dry conditions. Therefore, he has been spread in many parts of the world

Fan-shaped leaves

The genus Bismarckia is a monotypic genus: it contains only the species Bimarckia nobilis. This species built up fan-shaped, distributed round leaves.from the top of the stem  The leaves have been divided for one-third of the dimensions into twenty or more parts, which are silver gray or green. Outgrown leaves can have a diameter of three meters.
The Bismarck palm is dioecious, which means that the male reproductive organs (stamens) and female reproductive organs (pistil) are on separate plants. The female flowers are pollinated by both wind and insects.



Bismarckia- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Palmenfamile- Wikipedia

John Dransfield and Henk Beentje
The Palms of Madagascar
Royal botanic gardens Kew and the international Palm Society, 1995


This page has been created on Friday 22 June 2012.

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