Chamaedorea ernesti-augusti

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Chamaedorea ernesti augustiiz.jpg
Scientific Classification
Genus: Chamaedorea
Morenia ernesti-augustii, Eleutheropetalum ernesti-augustii, Nunnezharia ernesti-augustii, Geonoma corallifera, Chamaedorea glazioviana, Chamaedorea simplicifrons, Geonoma latifrons.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Bifid
Survivability index
Common names
Guaya de abajo, guayita, cola de pescado, rabo de bobo, nesheshiptmil - Mexico. Ernest August's Palm, Understory Fishtail Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Chamaedorea ernesti-augusti is found in Belize (British Honduras), Guatemala,
Caracas Botanic Garden, Venezuela. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Honduras, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest in dense, wet forest on the Atlantic slope; mostly at llower elevations, but to 1,000 m; often on limestone.


Chamaedorea ernesti-augusti is easily recognizable and unlikely to be mistaken for any other palm. Its larger bifid leaves make a bold statement in groups or as a single. It is equally effective as a attention getting palm in the garden or as a container plant. It is widely cultivated and usually easy to find in the specialty nurseries. There are several variations and sizes of the leaves, with the largest and most sought after being the form originating from Belize and northeastern Guatemala. Editing by edric.


Warm, sheltered and moist. The cold tolerance on this Palm is about 30 deg F. However the maximum height of this palm is only 6 feet tall, making it perfectly suited for a potted specimen that can be moved indoors if necessary during the cool winter months. Potted specimens respond well to patio conditions due to the constant fresh air. Trees kept indoors tend to get less air circulation.

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Comments and Curiosities

Another of the "Chams" discovered and brought to Europe in the first half of the 19th century. It is still grown commercially in limited quantities. There has been increasing interest in using the leaves in the floral industry, and while this could aid in the livelihoods of communities in Mexico and Central America, it will undoubtedly place increasing pressure on its survival in habitat. In the garden it rarely sets fruit to any degree, but with some human assistance with hand pollinating it will.

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

Etymology: The epithet honors Ernest August, ruler of Hannover from 1837-1851.

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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