Madagascar is that big island off the east coast of Africa.  It seems almost like a pilot fish near a great whale. 

But Madagascar is its own world, fully apart from Africa. Politically, Madagascar is its own republic.  French is the official language.  Malagasy is the real language of most of the people.  The place is called Repoblikan'i Madagasikara in the indigenous language; République de Madagascar, in introduced bureaucratic French.  And, Madagascar, in English.

Geologically and biologically, Madagascar is a continent all its own, albeit in highly condensed form.  Madagascar is a scrap of the ancient continent of Gondwana.  What we now call Madagasar broke off from India 88 million years ago.   Most of what lives there has lived there for a long time.  And, much of what lives there now, lives nowhere else in the world.

That includes palms.  Madagascar has what is likely to be the greatest diversity of palm species on Earth. Many palms from Madagascar will live happily here in Southern California.

And so, many of us in the PSSC care a lot about Madagascar, and the palms that grow there.

Madagascar is a great palm habitat for two reasons: (a) what is has, and (b) what it doesn't have.

Madagascar HAS: a variety of climates, ranging from hot-tropical, coastal, to temperate-zoned semi-desert.

And, Madagascar LACKS a lot of things that palm lovers hate (along with palms):