Calyptrogyne ghiesbreghtiana

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Calyptrogyne (kah-lip-tro-JEE-neh)
Trinidad, West Indies.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Calyptrogyne (kah-lip-tro-JEE-neh)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Vampire palm, or Coligallo palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Calyptrogyne ghiesbreghtiana is found in rainforests from sea level up to
1500 m (4800') into the cloud forests, of southeast Mexico, and Central America.


The Vampire palm (in reference to its being pollinated by bats), or Coligallo palm which is spanish for rooster tail. This is an understory palm. Trunk type: Solitary, with a mostly subterranean stem. Hight: To 2 meters (6.5') tall. Leaf detail: V-shaped, or bifid, with 3 to 9 other divisions in the leaf, to become partially pinnate, with a length to 1.2m (4'), and dark green. Flower detail: The flowers are produced all year round, on upright inflorescences; they are monoecious, with complete temporal separation of the male and female stages. The flowers are pollinated by bats. Simple paper thin leaves that split unevenly, (may resemble a pinnate leaf), inflorescence a single spike with a distinctive ring left by the spathe, bat pollinated flowers have a garlic odor.

Special note: There are variable species, with four accepted subspecies, Calyptrogyne ghiesbreghtiana subsp. glauca, Calyptrogyne ghiesbreghtiana subsp. ghiesbreghtiana, Calyptrogyne ghiesbreghtiana subsp. hondurensis, Calyptrogyne ghiesbreghtiana subsp. spicigera. Editing by edric.


Requirements: Full to partial shade when young, filtered light when mature, consistently moist soil, well drained position. Although found at cool altitudes, it isn't very frost tolerant. Very popular with palm collectors.

Comments and Curiosities

Because the flowers are made of a sweet chewable tissue (like the pulp of a fruit) they are much favoured by katydids (Tettigoniidae), whose feeding reduces the number of flowers available to be pollinated. The inflorescences host a species of mite (Acari) which live and reproduce on the inflorscence and travel to new inflorescences by hitching a ride on the flower-visiting bats. The behaviour of parasitising another animal for transport but not food is known as phoresy. A similar phenomenon which has been more comprehensively surveyed are the mites that live in flowers visited by hummingbirds and are phoretic on these flower-visiting birds.

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).

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

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