Synechanthus fibrosus

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Synechanthus (sihn-eh-KAHN-tuhs) fibrosus (fihb-ROH-suhs)
Ventura, California. Photo by Dr. John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Synechanthus (sihn-eh-KAHN-tuhs)
Species: fibrosus (fihb-ROH-suhs)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Palmilla, Jelly Bean Palm, Monkey Tail Palm

Habitat and Distribution

Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest,
Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden.
Nicaragua. Wet forests of the Atlantic slope from near sea-level to about 1200 m. alt., southern Mexico to Costa Rica.


Stem solitary, slender, smooth, green, prominently ringed, rarely as much as a 5-6 m. high, 2-3 cm. in diam., usually much lower and often commencing to flower before an emergent stem develops or the stem sometimes decumbent. Leaves few, glossy deep-green; sheath and petiole together to 1.1 m. long or more, the sheath tubular and the petiole short on new leaves (fide O. F. Cook) but the sheath soon splitting opposite the petiole, functioning and differentiated from the petiole, only by the deeply channelled upper surface and a narrow, usually fibrous strip along the margin; petiole convex below, concave above; rachis convex below, angled above, about 7.4-12.5 dni.long; pinnae 10-23 on each side of the rachis, rarely regularly arranged but usually in 2 or more separated groups of 2-4 or more, basal pinnae 13-31 cm. long, 0.3-2.2 cm. wide, median pinnae 29-50 cm. long, 2.5-4.4 cm. wide, apical pinnae 19-30 cm. long, 4.2-8 cm. wide and with 3-7 principal elevated nerves, all pinnae slightly to markedly sigmoid, acute to acuminate, all but the several-nerved apical ones with 1 midnerve and 2 lateral nerves prominent and elevated on the upper surface, dull yellow.brown on the lower surface. Inflorescence to about 1 m. long; peduncle to 7.2 cm. long; rachis to 22 cm. long; branches and/or rachillae to 30 cm. long, subtended by a low, often acute bract, with a pulvinus much thickened and calloused in fruit between branch or rachilla and axis, lower branches divided into several (to 6) rachillae, all rachillae very slender, about 1 mm. in diam., minutely scaberulous. Acervuli of a pistillate and usually 59 staminate flowers; staminate flowers about 0.6-0.8 mm. high in bud, lobes of the calyx acute, about half as high as the petals, petals very prominently nerved when dry, at anthesis horizontally spreading and slightly recurved at the margins, forming a triangle basally about the apex of the pistillode, stamens 6, filaments short, incurved in bud but not inflexed at the apex, erect, about as long as the anthers and the petals at anthesis, pistill, ode shorter than the stamens, deltoidovoid, conic and shallowly 3-lobed apically; pistillate flowers about 1 mm. high, lobes of the calyx about half as high as the petals or somewhat more, petals strongly nerved when dry, staminodes lacking, pistil as high as the petals, stigmas recurved. Fruit globose to ellipsoid, very fleshy and slippery when bruised, changing from yellowish-green to yellow orange and finally scarlet, 14-21 mm. long, 10-14 mm. in diam. when dry (obovoid and about 1.5 cm. long, 1.0 cm. in diam. when fresh fide Steyermark) ; seed ellipsoid to globose, 12-14 mm. long, 7-12 mm. in diam.; endosperm nearly homogeneous or minutely ruminate marginally. (H.E. Moore. 1971)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Both are cultivated as ornamentals, requiring rain forest-like conditions to thrive, shade or filtered light, humus-rich, friable soil and copious amounts of quickly-draining water; neither is hardy to cold, requiring protection from freezing temperatures. Treat as if it is a Chamaedorea. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

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).

Moore, H.E.1971. The Genus Synechanthus. Principes 15: 10-19.

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

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