The Herbarium of Endangerment: Tahina spectabilis

By Dr. Kathleen Cruz Gutierrez, Liz Orton

Jun 30 2022

This more “newly discovered” plant was given its Latin name in 2008, after having been spotted by a French resident in northwestern Madagascar. The genus name is derived from the resident’s daughter, and “spectabilis,” the Latin word for “remarkable” or “gaudy,” follows as its species epithet. Naming a species based on some intrinsic characteristic–determined by an extrinsic human actor–finds its way into plant naming regularly. But the Malagasy name “dimaka” reminds us that the plant and those phenotypically similar to it, such as other palms, were likely more familiar and known to local communities before T. spectabilis’ international stardom.