Chamaedorea geonomiformis

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Chamaedorea geonomiformis fruit.JPG
Scientific Classification
Genus: Chamaedorea
Chamaedorea humilis, Chamaedorea tenella, Geonoma fenestrata, Nunnezharia tenella.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Bifid
Height: 2m
Trunk diameter: 1 cm
Sun exposure: Shade
Soil type: Limestone soils
Survivability index
Common names
Necklace chamaedorea. Pacaya - Honduras; capucacapocha - Guatemala. Pacaya, Necklace Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Chamaedorea geonomiformis is found in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras,
Chamaedorea geonomiformis88z.jpg
Mexico Gulf, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest. MEXICO (without locality). GUATEMALA. Alta Verapaz. Izabal. Peten. BELIZE. Toledo. HONDURAS. Atlantida. COLOMBIA? Dense, wet forest on the Atlantic slope; alt. 100-900 m elevation; usually on limestone.

Native to much of southern Mexico and Central America. There are also disjunct populations on the Osa Peninsula (Pacific versant) of Costa Rica and, apparently, another in central Panam. Originally described from cultivated material in Europe, purportedly of Guatemalan origin, these palms are now known to be widespread in wet forests throughout the region. Low to mid elevation rain forests, and Honduras.


Trunk type: Solitary, rarely exceeding 1 centimeter, (.40") diam. Hight: There are four variations, within this species, ranging from 1 meter, (40"), to 2 meters, (7'), two shorter variety, and two taller, Chamaedorea geonomiformis, being the taller. Leaf detail: Chiapis form has long, narrow, flat bifid leaves, serrated leaf edges, corrugated leaf surface, and looks like a minature Chamaedorea geonomiformis. Veracruz form has short, wide, curled bifid leaves, serrated edges, corrugated leaf surface, and tends to hold less leaves than the other form. Editing by edric.

Habit: solitary, erect or occasionally decumbent, to 1.5 m tall, often flowering when stemless. Stem: 0.5-1 cm in diam., green, smooth, ringed, internodes 1-3 cm long, adventitious roots conspicuous at base. Leaves: 5-10 per crown, erect-spreading, bifid, rich green above, green below; sheath 8-10 cm long, tubular, green, obliquely open above middle, longitudinally striate-nerved; petiole 2-15 cm long, flat and green above, rounded and pale below; rachis 11-22 cm long, angled and yellow-green above, rounded and yellowish below; blade 15-30 x 15 cm, incised apically 1/3-1/2 its length and there 10 cm wide, oblanceolate or oblong-elliptic, lobes acute, only shallowly and obscurely toothed toward apex, 9-12 nerves on each side of rachis, these obscure above, pale yellowish and prominent below, not keeled above, 2 secondaries between each pair of primaries, tertiaries numerous, faint. Inflorescences: interfoliar but often infrafoliar in fruit, solitary, erect-spreading; peduncles 10-20 cm long, slender, 2-5 mm wide at base, 2-3 mm wide at apex, erect, green in flower where exposed, red-orange in fruit; bracts 5, tubular, closely sheathing, papery', drying brown by anthesis, longitudinally striate-nerved, uppermost shorter than to exceeding peduncle; rachises 2 cm long, green in flower, red-orange in fruit. Staminate with 3-6 rachillae, rarely spicate or with 2 rachillae and then usually only when flowering for one of first times, to 20 cm long, pendulous, slender, pale yellow. Pistillate with 2-3 rachillae, rarely spicate and then usually only when flowering for one of first times, 5-15 cm long, erect-spreading, light or yellowish green in flower becoming thickened and orange-red in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in rather dense spirals, 4 x 3.5-4 mm, globose-ovoid, yellowish, slightly sunken in elliptic depressions 3 mm long; calyx 0.5 x 3 mm, ring like,


Requirements: Full shade when young, filtered light when mature, consistently moist soil, well drained position, this is an understory palm. Quite cold tolerant, but slow growing.

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Comments and Curiosities

Chamaedorea are dioecious, male, and female flowers, on separate plants.

Etymology: A Latin derivative meaning having a similar shape, form, or habit to palms in the genus Geonoma.

There has been quite a bit of debate over the years, regarding the taxonomic status of the populations at the northern and southern extremes of its range, which will appear in most popular works on palms as C. tenella . It is my understanding that both Michael Grayum and Donald Hodel now appear to agree that this name is invalid, and that the morphological characters that "supposedly" separate the two are not constant throughout the species range. I fully agree with this conclusion. The traditional view is that those plants with spicate female inflorescences, short apical notches on their leaves and "glossier" leaf laminas are C. tenella , with plants in the central portion of the species range (Guatemala and Honduras) being considered textbook C. geonomiformis . It is also my understanding that plants in cultivation in the U.S. and Australia are largely of Belizean and Mexican origin.

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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