Ceroxylon ventricosum

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Ceroxylon (seh-ROKS-ih-lon)
ventricosum (ven-treh-KOH-suhm)
Ceroxylonvent3.jpg
Tonga apartments. Ventura CA. Photo by Troy Donovan, edric.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Ceroxylon (seh-ROKS-ih-lon)
Species:
ventricosum (ven-treh-KOH-suhm)
Synonyms
None set.
Native Continent
America
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Morphology
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Culture
Survivability index
Common names
Ecuadorian Wax Palm. Palma de cera (Colombia, Ecuador), Läme (Nasa, Colombia), Palma real (Putumayo, Colombia; Carchi, Ecuador), Palma de tambán, Tambán, Palma de ramos (Ecuador).

Habitat and Distribution

Ceroxylon ventricosum is found in Andes mountain range, western coast of South America.
Ventura Landmark.
In Ecuador, this is the highest-altitude naturally occurring palm tree, appearing in the wild, well above 3,500 meters in paramo forests, and distributed down to about 1,800 m, especially in the province of Loja. Wax palms are so named for their single, waxy trunk. Due to the palm’s slow growth, and agricultural land clearing within the tree’s natural range, it has become an endangered species in Ecuador. The government now runs a campaign telling farmers to leave any wax palms found on their properties alone; not only are the palms rare, they are the preferred habitat for two species of endemic parrots (the El Oro Parikeet and the Loja Green Parrot) which are rapidly going extinct along with the trees.

Grows from the South of Colombia (Central Cordilllera, western slope in Cauca and Eastern slopes of the Andes in Putumayo) to the south-east of Ecuador, in moist montane forest or kept on pastures, at (1800-)2000-3000 m, usually above 2500 m. It is commonly found forming stands of hundreds of individuals. It is also cultivated as ornamental in Ecuador. (Maria Jose Sanin and Gloria Galeano. 2011)/Palmweb.

Description

Trunk type: Solitary, with a glossy crownshaft, the trunk exhibits a powdery white residue, much akin to baby powder, trunk has white rings from leaf scares. Leaf detail: Pinnately compound, diametrically opposed, semi-plumose, very erect, dark green leaves, whitish underneath. Ceroxylon ventricosum, Andean Wax Palms are very slow growers with an attractive, spreading canopy, and can get quite tall (given 100 years or so….) Editing by edric.

Culture

Requirements: This is an emergent palm, and requires protection from wind, and hot dry air when young, filtered light when young, full sun when mature, consistently moist soil, well drained position. Cool, humid and moist, but well drained. That said the plant pictured here is growing in Ventura California, where the summers would be quite hot and dry.

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Comments and Curiosities

Conservation: According to the IUCN criteria, considered Vulnerable (VU) in Ecuador (Borchsenius & Skov 1999) and endangered (EN) in Colombia, because of habitat reduction and the small size of the populations. (Maria Jose Sanin and Gloria Galeano. 2011)/Palmweb.

Uses: The split stems are used for fencing and house construction. The fruits are fed to pigs that are set loose on the palm stands during the fruiting season, and because of this, the palms are protected in the pastures and in the forest. (Maria Jose Sanin and Gloria Galeano. 2011)/Palmweb.

Wax is scraped off the stem and burned for illumination, and stems are used for construction purposes (posts, floors, walls); hats and mats are weaved from the pinnae of the spear leaf; the spear leaf is sold during Holy week, to be used on Palm Sunday. (Borchsenius, F. 1998)/Palmweb.

This is a tillering palm, it exhibits saxophone style root growth (it has a heel), keep top third of heel above soil elevation!


External Links

References

Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to Palmweb.org, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Borchsenius, F.1998. Manual to the palms of Ecuador. AAU Reports 37. Department of Systematic Botany, University of Aarhus, Denmark in collaboration with Pontificia Universidad Catalica del Ecuador.

Sanin, Maria Jose & Galeano, Gloria. 2011. A revision of the Andean wax palms, Ceroxylon (Arecaceae).


Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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