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TROPICAL PLANT CATALOG Printer friendly page  

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Chamaedorea sp., Chamaedorea

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Chamaedorea ernesti-augustii
 Chamaedorea sp.
Family: Arecaceae / Palmae
Chamaedorea
Origin: Central America
Small tree 10-20 ftFull sunSemi-shadeRegular waterPalm or palm-likeUnknown name

Stems obsolete to erect, slender or (rarely) subarborescent, solitary or (C. costaricana) cespitose, unarmed. Petioles unarmed, sometimes with conspicuous, yellowish, abaxial stripe, the sheath splitting or closed, sometimes (C. costaricana, C. graminifolia) forming brief crownshaft, rarely (C. costaricana) with distal, ligule-like structure. Leaf-blades simple and bifid to pinnately compound. Peduncle short to elongate, usually becoming orange to red in fruit, with 1-several elongate, apically bifid, persistent to deciduous bracts. Ripe fruits smooth to verrucose-echinulate (C. crucensis), globose to obovoid or ellipsoid, orange to red or (usually) dark purplish or black, with basal stigmatic residue.

Chamaedorea is unique, among palm genera occurring in Costa Rica, in being dioecious. This, however, is not a character of practical utility either in the herbarium or in the field. Most species are relatively nondescript, but can usually be recognized by the combination of small size (always less 10m tall), solitary (except C. costaricana), green stems, spineless and otherwise glabrous foliage, papery, apically bifid peduncular bracts, and ebracteate flowers. Some species have a yellowish abaxial stripe on the petiole and leaf-rachis, which is diagnostic, and species with pinnately compound leavs usually have sigmoid pinnae.

Male and female infls. of the same Chamaedorea sp. are sometimes very different. The ephemeral and seldom-collected male infls. and flowers generally provide the most useful diagnostic characters for Chamaedorea species; however, complete information is ideal. in synchrony.

Costa Rica and Panama comprise a center of diversity for Chamaedorea, which is especially species-rich in mid-elevation rain forests. Many species (especially those with simple leavs) are ornamental, and assiduously sought by unscrupulous collectors. Wild populations of such species are under constant siege, and some have been extirpated. Most Chamaedorea species are rare and local to begin with, which exacerbates the problem.


Similar plants:

 Chamaedorea sp., Chamaedorea

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Chamaedorea tepejilote

Chamaedorea sp., Chamaedorea

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Chamaedorea ernesti-augustii
Chamaedorea sp., Chamaedorea

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Chamaedorea sp., Chamaedorea

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Chamaedorea schiedeana
Chamaedorea sp., Chamaedorea

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Chamaedorea sp., Chamaedorea

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Chamaedorea sp., Chamaedorea

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Chamaedorea sp., Chamaedorea

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Chamaedorea sp., Chamaedorea

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Chamaedorea ernesti-augustii
Chamaedorea sp., Chamaedorea

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Chamaedorea sp., Chamaedorea

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Chamaedorea schiedeana


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Pacaya palm - is found in the understory of the forests of southern Mexico, Central America, and northern Colombia. The immature male inflorescences of the plant are considered a delicacy in Guatemala and El Salvador. The unopened inflorescences resemble an ear of corn in appearance and size. Indeed, the word tepejilote means "mountain maize" in the Nahuatl language and was selected because of this resemblance. "Pacaya," the common name for both the plant and its edible flower could be derived from the volcano of that name.
Pacaya has a somewhat bitter taste, although less so in cultivated varieties. It is eaten in salads (especially fiambre, a salad traditionally eaten in Guatemala on the Day of the Dead) or covered in egg batter and fried. The latter dish is called "rellenos de pacaya" and is often served with tomato sauce, like chiles rellenos.
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