Ceroxylon alpinum

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Ceroxylon (seh-ROKS-ih-lon)
alpinum (all-PEEN-uhm)
Scientific Classification
Genus: Ceroxylon (seh-ROKS-ih-lon)
alpinum (all-PEEN-uhm)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Andean Wax Palm. Chonta (Quindío, Colombia); palma bendita (Venezuela); palma de cera (Quindío, Valle del Cauca, Colombia; Venezuela); palma real (Valle del Cauca, Colombia).

Habitat and Distribution

Ceroxylon alpinum is found in Colombia, and Venezuela. Premontane Wet cloud forest,
Colombia. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
from 1400 to 2000 m, in the Andes of Venezuela (Distrito Federal, on the northwestern slopes of the Cordillera de La Costa, Aragua, and Táchira) and Colombia (western slope of the Eastern Cordillera, and eastern and western slopes of the Central and Western Cordilleras).


Trunk 8-21 m tall, Solitary, 19-30 cm in diam., internodes covered with thin layers of wax, white at the base, grey to brown towards the apex. Leaves 17-20 (-25) in a hemispheric crown; sheath 75-125 cm long, densely covered with thick, eventually deciduous tomentum of white scales; petiole (10-) 20-30 cm long, 4.5-7.0 cm wide apically, adaxial surface concave to flattened, margins acute, glabrescent, abaxial surface convex, densely covered with thick, deciduous scales or their broken bases, indumentum more persistent towards the margins; rachis 194-270 cm long, adaxially flattened in 2/3-¾ of its length, twisted 90° on distal portion thereby holding the pinnae in a vertical position, abaxial surface covered with an indumentum resembling that of the petiole; pinnae 90-110 on each side, regularly arranged in one plane, horizontal to slightly pendulous, in the latter case forming an angle (abaxially) close to 75°, abaxial surface covered with elliptical, membranaceous, white scales, becoming gradually more scattered with age, midrib covered with one row of translucent, deciduous scales, pinnae at the extreme proximal end filiform, 22-41 (-62) × 0.2-0.3 (-1.4) cm, 10th pinna from base 52-74 × 1-2 cm, middle pinnae 49-80 × 3.5-5.5 cm, 2.3-5.5 cm apart, apical pinnae (15-) 24-31 × 0.5-1.0 cm, usually free, rarely united along the margins.


It endures cool and damp conditions for most of the year. An acid soil suits it best (use Miracid) together with moist, and damp conditions and of course an adequate supply of water. Opinions as to its hardiness vary. Cool, sheltered and moist. Prefers a mild temperate climate, and doesn't like hot weather. Very slow growing.

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Comments and Curiosities

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


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).

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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