Pholidostachys dactyloides

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dactyloides (dahk-tihl-oh-EE-dehz)
Pd27048 orig.jpg
"This specimen from the San Blas region, I am told this is the fruit of Pholidostachys dactyloides, known as Rabo de Gallo. If so, it is at the north end of its range, which extends south to Ecuador." (Dick Culbert). Photo by Dick Culbert
Scientific Classification
Genus: Pholidostachys
dactyloides (dahk-tihl-oh-EE-dehz)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Rabo de Gallo, Carmaná Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Colombia, Ecuador, and Panamá.
ECUADOR: Los Rios: Buena Fe Rio Palenque Science Center, 2 km south of Patricia Pilar, 2002. Photo by Dr. Mac H. Alford
From 8°50'N'3°11'S and 76°03'-79°14'W in eastern Panama, western Colombia, and western Ecuador at 444(5-1440) m elevation in lowland or montane rainforest (Henderson, A.J. 2012)/Palmweb.


Stem 5.4 (2.0-10.0) m long, 7.7 (4.0-12.0) cm in diameter, solitary. Leaves 15 (6-25) per stem; sheaths 45.4 (14.0-110.0) cm long; petioles 56.8 (20.0-122.0) cm long; rachises 135.4(68.0-231.0) cm long, 13.3(7.9- 20.1) mm diameter; pinnae 10 (6-17) per side of rachis; basal pinna 57.9 (34.0-92.0) cm long, 2.4 (0.7-7.5) cm wide, forming an angle of 53 (30-74)° with the rachis; apical pinna 45.0 (36.0-58.0) cm long, 15.3 (4.5-22.5) cm wide, forming an angle of 13 (7-20)° with the rachis. Inflorescences branched 1 order (rarely 2 orders), with a well-developed peduncle, short rachis, and several rachillae, these erect at anthesis; prophylls and peduncular bracts fibrous, covering all or part of the rachillae at anthesis; prophylls 46.0 (30.0-59.0) cm long; peduncular bracts 56.7 (50.0-65.0) cm long, inserted 6.2 (2.5-11.0) cm above the prophyll; peduncles 16.3 (8.5-25.5) cm long, 10.4 (4.7-19.0) mm diameter; rachillae 9 (2-16), 35.5 (15.5-75.0) cm long, 6.3 (4.5- 9.7) mm diameter; proximal lips of flower pits irregularly shaped, often acute or acuminate, completely covering pits before anthesis; fruits scarcely compressed, obovoid, with obscure longitudinal ridges, 12.2 (8.8-16.3) mm long, 7.9 (5.8-11.5) mm indiameter (Henderson, A.J. 2012)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Pholidostachys dactyloides is a widespread and variable species with an unusually wide elevation range.

Subspecific variation. Specimens occur in several different populations. The northernmost specimens, from two localities in eastern Panama, are distinct in their short rachillae and acuminate proximal lips. These Panamanian specimens strongly resemble others from the northern part of the Chocó region of Colombia, where they occur at both high and low elevations. However, some of these have rachillae of the more usual length. Further south, in the Valle region of Colombia, specimens are similar to those from southwestern Colombia and northwestern Ecuador, and both populations have less acuminate proximal lips. There is a large population in southwestern Colombia and northwestern Ecuador. One specimen from there (Vargas 6108) has inflorescences branched to 2 orders. Regression shows there are significant associations between elevation and four leaf and five inflorescence variables in this population. Squared multiple R for the regression of leaf number on elevation is 0.29, rachis width 0.40, number of pinnae 0.27, basal pinna angle 0.40, peduncle width 0.37, rachilla length 0.30, rachilla width 0.42, fruit length 0.62, fruit diameter 0.51. Values for these variables increase with elevation except for basal pinna angle. Notably, rachillae are thicker at higher elevations. The southernmost specimens, in southwestern Ecuador, differ slightly from those in southwestern Colombia and northwestern Ecuador. Although there are too few specimens to test for differences, they have shorter and narrower apical pinnae. (Henderson, A.J. 2012)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

For all the world like a big (to 10m/33ft tall!) Geonoma look alike, this palm from Panama, Colombia and Ecuador has stunning RED new leaves. The leaflets are very broad and of different widths, giving it a striking appearance, quite different from most other palms.

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).

Henderson, A.J. 2012. A revision of Pholidostachys (Arecaceae).

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

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