Beccariophoenix alfredii is a recently discovered palm tree from a humid valley at 1,000 m altitude, in the central plateau of Madagascar where it freezes in winter.
It looks a lot like the coconut palm or Cocos nucifera, to which it is actually related, but it is a lot more cold-hardy.
The species was seen in a photo in 2002 and an expedition in 2004 confirmed the existence of this new species which was named Beccariophoenix alfredii.
It is about 15 m high with a bare trunk, up to 30 cm in diameter and with closely spaced circular scars of fallen leaves.
The crown consists of 30-36 pinnate leaves, each with about 120 leaflets. In young plants the dead leaves remain hanging on the stem longer than in older plants.
The inflorescence appears between the leaves and is surrounded by a leathery sheath of 90 cm long. The flower stalk is 8-13 cm long and elliptical in cross section. The rachis is quite short (8-9 cm) and carries 30-50 flowers standing close together in a spiral appropriate.
The fruit is oblate (oval and flattened at the ends), 2.5 cm long and 1.5 cm wide, dark purple-black when ripe.
Despite its recent discovery it is already a relatively success palm destined to replace the coconut palm in colder regions.
Beccariophoenix: Beccario in honor of the Italian palm botanist Odoardo Beccari (1843–1920) and phoenix from the Greek phoinix (date palm)
Alfredii: in honor of Alfred Razafindratsira, horticulturist specializing in native plants of Madagascar
Gallery forest, on sand and quartzite rocks along a river
USDA zone 9-11, -4 °C (not certain)
Well drained, preferably sandy loam
Water daily in summer
Fertilizer regularly during growing season: every 2 weeks since this is a rapid growing palm
- seed viability is short, sow immediately upon receiving the seeds
- soak the seeds 1 day in lukewarm water
- sow in moist substrate
- put the pot in a plastic bag or container to maintain humidity
- 22-35 °C
- germination time: 2-6 weeks