| Ceroxylon (seh-ROKS-ih-lon) |
Tonga apartments. Ventura CA. Photo by Troy Donovan, edric.
Habitat and DistributionCeroxylon ventricosum is found in Andes mountain range, western coast of South America.
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.
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.
|Detailed Scientific Description|
Trunk 6-25(-35) m tall, 20-44(-60) cm. in diam., white at base and turning green towards apex, covered with thick layer of wax. Leaves 16-20, in a dense, hemispheric crown; sheath 100-150 cm long, abaxially covered with thick layer of persistent yellowish or brownish, degraded scales; petiole 30-59 cm long, 6-10 cm wide at the apex; rachis 250-334 cm long, twisted 90° on distal portion thereby holding the pinnae in a vertical position, adaxially flattened in 1/3-1/5 of its length, hastula-like projection 1 mm long, glabrescent, abaxial surface covered with appressed, white, translucent scales that are often degraded; pinnae 118-151 on each side, arranged toward the middle of the leaf in groups of 2-4 (-7), very close to each other, oriented in slightly divergent planes, but basal and apical pinnae regularly arranged or tending to a disposition at regular intervals, the terminal half of each pinnae pendulous, abaxial surface covered with long, yellowish scales; the basal, filiform pinnae 21-39 × 0.2-0.3 mm, basal pinnae (10th from base) 39-86 × 0.8-1.5 cm, middle pinnae 76-115 × (2.5-) 3.4-6.2 cm, apical pinnae 17-38 × 0.3-1.0 cm, free. Staminate inflorescences peduncle glabrescent; prophyll 41 cm long; peduncular bracts various, with an additional smaller bract inserted at the base of peduncle; rachis 79 cm long, with 93 branches, each subtended by a subulate membranaceous, acuminate bract 0.2-3.0 cm long; longest branches 31 cm long; rachis and branches glabrescent. Pistillate inflorescences: peduncle 199-240 cm long, 4.0 cm wide at the apex; prophyll 62 cm long; peduncular bracts 5, up to 206 cm long, and an additional, 7 cm bract inserted more distally on the peduncle; rachis 87-141 cm long, with 64-87 branches, each subtended by a 0.2-2.0 cm membranous bract, longest branches in basal half, 39-63 cm long; prophyll, peduncle and bracts covered with persistent, brown to ferrugineous, fibres of interlocked scales, rachis and rachillae glabrous. Staminate flowers: sepals 3, broadly triangular, 1.0-1.1 mm long, connate in 0.3 mm (1/3 of total length), not reaching to exceeding total length of corolla tube; petals 3, elliptical, long-acuminate, 5-6 mm long, including an acumen of 1 mm long, connate in 1.0-1.5 mm; stamens 9-11, 3-6 antisepalous stamens, and 3-8 antipetalous stamen, filaments 1.5-2.5 mm long, inserted at 2/3 basal portion of anther, anthers 2.0-2.5 mm long, anther connective not projected. Pistillate flowers: sepals 3, broadly triangular-acuminate, 1.5 mm long, connate for 0.6-1.0 mm (½-2/3 of total length), not reaching corolla tube, petals 3, elliptical-acuminate, 4.0-6.5 mm long, including an acumen of 2-3 mm long, connate up to 1.2-2.0 mm; staminodes 9-11, 1 antisepalous, 2-3 antipetalous, filaments 1 mm long, abortive anthers 0.9-1.2 mm long, pistil trifid, 2-3 mm. in diam. Fruits globose, orange-red when ripe, 1.5-1.8 cm. in diam., exocarp smooth; fruiting perianth with sepals elliptical-acuminate, 1.0-1.5 mm long, connate in 0.2, lobes exceeding corolla tube, petals 3, elliptical-acuminate, connate in 0.8 mm. Seeds about 1.3 cm. in diam. (Maria Jose Sanin and Gloria Galeano. 2011)/Palmweb.
Ceroxylon ventricosum is characterized by its massive, robust and white stem, by its leaves twisted 90° on distal portion thereby holding the pinnae in a vertical position, the pinnae pendulous and arranged in hardly discernible groups toward the middle of the leaves, staminate flowers with 9-11 stamens and smooth fruits. The best way to distiguish it from C. quindiuense is in its grouped pinnae spreading in various planes, whereas, C. quindiuense has regularly arranged, pendulous (in one plane) pinnae. (Maria Jose Sanin and Gloria Galeano. 2011)/Palmweb.
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.
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!
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- THE SAXOPHONE STYLE ROOT GROWTH (HEEL)
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.