Chamaedorea elatior

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elatior (eh-LAH-tee-or)
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Botanic Gardens, Sydney, in the Arc Glasshouse. Photo by Dr. Tony Rodd.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Chamaedorea
elatior (eh-LAH-tee-or)
Chamaedorea desmoncoides
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Bifid, then pinnate as matures.
Survivability index
Common names
Tepejilote, tepejilotillo, cola de gullo, junco de bejuco, junco - Mexico. Climbing Chamaedorea.

Habitat and Distribution

Chamaedorea elatior is found in Guatemala, Honduras, and throughout many Mexican
states in moist or wet, dense forest mostly on the Atlantic slope but occasionally on the Pacific slope in Guatemala from 100 - 1,500 m elevation.


It is solitary, but occasionally cespitose, or growing in sprawling messy clumps, sometimes branching close to the ground, often arching, but erect when younger and shorter. Can be up to 20 meters long, or more, and crawls or climbs throughout the available vegetation. Stems are .8-2 m in diameter, and are smooth, green. Leaves are pinnate, but deeply bifid when young. Seeds are 8-11 mm in diam., globose, black with a glaucous coating. Editing by edric.


Not a palm ideally suited to the average garden as placement is difficult considering its habit. Without substantial overhead support, it will wander haphazardly across the ground, and can even be potentially destructive if its increasing weight is not taken into account. But still, it is widely cultivated in warm, sheltered and moist location. It has proven to be very adaptable, succeeding in the warm temperate as well as in the tropical garden, ideally planted under the canopy of established trees. When displayed properly it can be a very interesting and attractive addition.

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Comments and Curiosities

The only climbing Chamaedorea, and perhaps the only climbing palm without spines, and thus very easy to recognize, this species scrambles up trees aided by its long leaves with stiff, reflexed leaflets near the tip that can hook onto other vegetation for support. (

Chamaedorea is a dioecious genus - meaning male and female flowers occur on separate plants. The Greek is translated to mean “gift on the ground” - possibly referring to the small stature and pleasant surprise of finding such a gem at your feet

The epithet stems from the Latin elatus meaning tall, in reference to the long, tall stems.

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

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

Special thanks to, 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).

Hodel, D.R.1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation.The International Palm Society.

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

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