Socratea exorrhiza

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Socratea (sohc-rah-TEH-ah) exorrhiza (eks-ohr-REE-saw)
SeIMG 0039.jpg
Hilo, Hawaii. Photo by Timothy Brian.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Socratea (sohc-rah-TEH-ah)
Species: exorrhiza (eks-ohr-REE-saw)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Zancona, Jira, Palma de Zancos, Walking Palm or Cashapona, Pona.

Habitat and Distribution

Socratea exorrhiza is found in Bolivia, Brazil North, Colombia,
Socratea exorrhiza, Manaus, Amazonas. Photo by Don Kittleson.
Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panamá, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. Widespread in Central America and South America. Isla Colon, Isla Bastimentos & mainland. Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimento. Sendero del límite del parque, entrando por Sal Creek, Playa Larga; zona de humedales. Bosque maduro. Parte final del sendero. In Ecuador it occurs in moist forest on both sides of the Andes, and is often quite common. Below 1000 m. elevation.

Cashapona grows quickly, has a very small, light canopy, and develops well from naturally dispersed and discarded or thrown-out seeds. Maintenance is minimal, and it grows well with almost any crop. These factors combine to make it a common species in non-flooded fields and fallows.


Canopy palm. Stem solitary, 10-20 m tall and 10-20 cm in diameter, supported at base by a few, thick, brown stilt roots with numerous short, white root spines. Leaves 1.5-3.5 m long; pinnae 15-25 on each side, longitudinally split into 2-18 unequal segments, these 40-90 cm long. Inflorescence axis 30-60 cm long; branches 5-20, to 40 cm long. Male flowers about 1 cm long, with 17-65 stamens. Female flowers about 5 mm long. Fruit elongate, 1.5-2.5 cm long, smooth. Editing by edric. (Borchsenius, F. 1998)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Socratea exorrhiza need full sun to partial shade with moist soil. We grow ours under 25% shade all year long. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 2 parts sand. The soil mix is kept constantly moist all year long. We fertilize the palm monthly during the spring and summer months with a balanced fertilizer. During the winter months, we do not fertilize them. In containers, the palms are fairly slow growers and they need to be repotted every couple of years. The stilt roots will sometime grow outside of the container, giving it a unique look in the greenhouse. Seeds germinate in 45-60 days at 75°F (24°C). USDA zones 10b-11.

Comments and Curiosities

Socratea exorrhiza or Stilt Palm is a large species of monoecious palms native from Central America to the Amazon Rainforest. They are sometimes called Walking Palms because of their prominent stilt-like roots. If the light is better on one side of the palm, the roots will grow into the lighted area and roots on the low light side tend to die off. Thus, the palm itself moves more into the light. In nature, stilt palms will reach about 65 feet (20 m) tall. The roots have small, white, conical spines. Ramified inflorescence with white flowers. Fruits turn yellowish green when ripe. The dark green, pinnate leaves will reach up to 6 feet (2 m) in length, with the tubular sheaths forming a conspicuous crownshaft. The crownshaft is often bluish-green.

Uses: The trunk is used in the construction of houses and other structures. It is usually split length-wise before it is used, but it can also be hollowed out and used a tube. The spiny roots are used for scraping coconuts (Cocos nucifera) and yucca (Manihot esculenta). The inner part of the stilt roots is used as a male aphrodisiac.

External Links


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).

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.

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

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