Allagoptera brevicalyx

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Allagoptera (ahl-lah-gohp-TEH-rah)
brevicalyx (brev-ih-KAHL-iks)
Scientific Classification
Genus: Allagoptera (ahl-lah-gohp-TEH-rah)
brevicalyx (brev-ih-KAHL-iks)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Brazil: cachandó.

Habitat and Distribution

Allagoptera brevicalyx is found in Brazil Northeast.
Bahia, Brazil habitat. Photo: Jeff Marcus
Endemic to Bahia and Sergipe. Brazil's atlantic coast, in white sand.


Incredible waxy silver color, with hint of pink - spectacular.

Palm 1-2 m tall, stem to 2 m long, solitary, but subterranean, giving it the appearance of clustering. Leaves 4-8 in the crown; sheath and petiole densely tomentose; petiole 10-20 cm long, about 5 mm. in diam., densely covered with beige woolly indumentum; rachis 40-70 cm long, densely woolly-waxy; pinnae 25-40 per side, short lanceolate, with lobed tips, irregularly inserted in obscure groups of 1-4, 2-3 cm apart, spreading or appressed to rachis at various angles, plicate at base and densely covered with woolly hairs and ramenta, with evident midrib on both surfaces, with transverse veinlets not evident, green and lustrous adaxially, glaucous abaxially, the obtuse apex asymmetrically split for 0.5-4 cm; basal pinnae 15-25 x 0.4-1.8 cm; middle pinnae 10-22 x 0.7-2 cm; apical pinnae 4-9 x 0.2-0.9 cm. Inflorescences 55-95 cm long; peduncle 45-80 cm long, 0.4-0.6 cm. in diam., slender, muricate, scarcely to densely covered with floccose hairs and brownish scales; rachilla 10-15 cm long, bearing whitish woolly hairs; prophyll 25-30 cm, tubular, scarious; peduncular bract 50-90 cm long, 1.7-4 cm. in diam., apiculate, inflated above, woody, sulcate, beige-waxy externally, glabrous and brownish violet internally; peduncular bracts 1 or 2, brown scarious, dentate, at 2.5 em from apex of peduncle. Staminate flowers 3-4.5 mm long, pedicel to 1 mm, long , inserted parallel to perpendicular; sepals connate to the middle, glabrous, membranous, 2 about 2.5 x 1.5 mm, one larger about 3.5 x 1.5 mm, much smaller than the petals; petals valvate, connate to the middle, glabrous, membranous, about 6 x 2 mm; stamens 15, about 6 mm long, the filaments not columnar, about 1.5 mm long, the anthers about 4 mm long, sagittate at both ends; pistillode trifid. Pistillate flowers inserted on proximal 5-12 cm of rachilla, fibrous; sepals free, triangular, 3-5 x 3 mm, contorted to the left, glabrous, irregular to dentate on margin; petals free, triangular, 3-5 x 3 mm, imbricate to the right , glabrous; staminodial ring adnate to petals; pistil conical, 3-5 mm; stigma capitate, <1 mm with 3 short branches, wrinkled, glabrous. Fruit ovoid to turbinate, glabrous, 1.5-2 cm long, about 1.3 cm. in diam., perpendicular to rachilla, the stigmatic remnants truncate with stigmas sessile and minute, the persistent perianth <½, of fruit; seed 1. (Mónica Moraes, Flora Neotropica, monograph 73, Allagoptera)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


"I have grown this palm for over 20 years now. I bought it years ago at a palm sale at Fairchild gardens. I distributed many seeds over the years to numerous people including Jeff Marcus. Dale Holton bought almost all of the plants from Marcus and had the plant identified. Dale has had them available for sale in the past as he has seeding plants that he keeps in his nursery cycle. The plants will continue to clump over the years getting quite large at the base. The leaves become very curly and exotic looking as they get older. I always get comments about the plants from visitors. They are difficult to tell from an arenaria when young. As they get older they become more upright than an arenaria. They typically get about 7-8 feet overall height. They seed a lot more than arenaria. Their seed pods also are larger than an arenaria. About 17 years ago I gave several one gallon plants to my sister that lives at the beach in st. Augustine Florida 9a. I live in west palm beach which is where I started growing the plants. Despite total neglect at my sisters they are growing and doing fine. They have survived many very cold winters over that time. About 15 years ago I bought a house down the street in st. Augustine. I have had five plants growing at the beach for about 15 years. The coldest temperature I am aware of is mid-20's. The plants survive that without a scratch. I mean no burn at ALL. The only damage I have had to any of the plants was when we had the very cold winter a couple of years ago I had one totally unprotected from the northwesterly wind. The winds were extremely strong with temps in the 20's. That one plant lost one of its clusters. The plant survived without any other issues. All of the other plants were unscathed. Because the plants stay short they don't get up into heavy winds. I grow them in full sun. They do not grow as good in shade of any kind. They like water but not excessive amounts. I would say average to slightly more. Fertilize normal amounts. I am also growing arenaria, leucocalyx and the other species the name of which escapes me as I type this. All in st. Augustine. I have had arenaria there for years as well. The other two species have been there about five years. They are all flowering but I don't know if the young plants have set seeds in addition to flowers. They all prefer more sun than less. They are all cold hardy so far to the high twenties. Because of their dwarf growth habit they are protected from the cold winter winds which do the most damage." (Richard Briscoe)

Comments and Curiosities

This is a tillering palm, it exhibits saxophone style root growth (it has a heel), keep top third of heel above soil elevation!

Ecology: Restricted to xeromorphic vegetation of sandy coastal dunes and cerrado. The species is distributed to 40 km inland from the Atlantic coast and occurs from sea level to >20 m; it is also distributed at 100-150 m in cerrado and restinga vegetation on white sandy soils (Esplanada). The geographic distribution of Allagoptera brevicalyx covers an area with restinga, xeromorphic forests, and a low shrub woodland found on sandy soils and white sand dunes in the coastal region with a reduced superficial humus (Entre Rios, Salvador). The restricted distribution of Allagoptera brevicalyx in Bahia and Sergipe, and its occurrence in xeromorphic vegetation conforms to a high level of endemism that has been registered in the northeastern flora of Brazil in an area known as the castinga region (Andrade-Lima, 1982). (Mónica Moraes, Flora Neotropica, monograph 73, Allagoptera)/Palmweb.

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).

Mónica Moraes. Flora Neotropica, monograph 73, Allagoptera. The New York Botanical Garden.

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

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