Madagascar Foxtail Palm
First collected in 1959 on the Marojejy massif in northeastern Madagascar, this spectacular palm remained in obscurity until it was rediscovered in the late 1980's and formally described as recently as 1995. Independent of that it was introduced into cultivation called the "Madagascar foxtail", as which it has attained an almost mythical status among palm collectors. As far as plants in cultivation are concerned, there has been much confusion about this palm and a similar and closely related species from Madagascar, D. coursii. In its native habitat in submontane rainforest on broad mountain ridges between 700 and 1100 m (2300 and 3600 ft.), it appears as a slightly odd, somewhat messy species whose ascending crown of plumose leaves collects leaf litter from surrounding trees. Nevertheless, it cleans up exceedingly well and has huge potential as a cultivated plant, sporting beautiful reddish-brown leafbases, a relatively short but robust trunk and bronzy new leaf with wide, grouped leaflets that have neatly curled tips. It is one of the more difficult to propagate palms from Madagascar. Wild collected seeds have a relatively low germination rate and seedlings are prone to damping off, so preventative treatment with a fungicide may be advised. Once the plant gets bigger it is a reliable but slow grower that will do well in many warm temperate and most tropical climates.