| Ceroxylon (seh-ROKS-ih-lon) |
Jeff Anderson for scale. Bogota, Colombia, at 8,612 ft (2625 meters), Photo by Jeff Anderson.
Habitat and DistributionCeroxylon quindiuense is found in Colombia, and Peru. Disjunct, with populations in the
Stem (13-) 20-45 (-60) m tall, 25-40 cm in diam., white, with prominent leaf scars, covered with a very thick layer of wax. Leaves 14-20, in a dense, hemispheric crown; sheath 70-120 (-176) cm, covered with thick, light brown indumentum; petiole (29-) 44-80 cm long, 8.5-10.0 cm wide at the apex, abaxially covered with white indumentum of deciduous scales with persistent, thick, waxy bases; rachis 185-350 (-540) cm long, adaxially flattened in ½-? of its lenght, 2 mm hastula-like projection, glabrescent, abaxial surface covered with thick indumentum of white to cream, fibrous scales;
pinnae 70-128 on each side, regularly arranged in one plane, completely pendulous, adaxial surface glossy, olive-green but appearing grayish from a distance, the midrib covered with persistent scale base scars, abaxial surface and midrib densely covered with persistent, linear, white to cream, padded scales, never revealing the surface beneath in age; the most basal filiform pinnae 34-56 × 0.3-0.4 mm, basal pinnae (10th from base) 49-130 × 1.1-2.0 cm, middle pinnae 70-154 × (3.2-) 4.4-6.0 cm, apical pinnae 41-62 × 0.7-2.5 cm, free. Staminate inflorescences 1-2 at one time; peduncular bracts 6-7, with an additional smaller bract inserted at base of peduncle; rachis 102 cm long, with about 91 branches, each subtended by a small, membranaceous, acuminate bract, rachis and branches glabrescent, longest branches 42 cm long. Pistillate inflorescences 2-5 at one time; peduncle 150-280 cm long, 4 cm wide at apex, covered with scattered, brown, eroded, appressed scales; prophyll 35-70 cm long, 17 cm wide; peduncular bracts 5-7, prophyll and peduncle bracts covered with persistent, brown to ferrugineous scales; rachis 90-163 cm long, with 63-76 branches, each subtended by a 0.2-2.0 cm long, membranous bract, longest branches 68-80 cm long; rachis and rachillae glabrous. Staminate flowers: sepals 3 (-4), broadly triangular, 1.0-1.2 mm long, connate for 0.4 mm (1/3-½ of total length), reaching or exceeding total length of corolla tube; petals 3 (-5), elliptical, long-acuminate, 4-7 mm long, including an acumen of 1.0-1.5 (-3.5) mm long, connate for 1 mm; stamens 9-12 (-17), 3-6 antisepalous stamens, and 3-9 (-11) antipetalous stamens, filaments 1.0-3.5 (-4.5) mm long, inserted at basal central portion of anther, anthers 2.2 mm long, anther connective not projected. Pistillate flowers: sepals 3, broadly-triangular-acuminate, 1.5 mm long, connate for 1 mm (2/3 of total length), not reaching corolla tube, petals 3, elliptical-acuminate, 4.0-7.5 mm long, connate for up to 1 mm, acumen narrow, 2-3 mm long; staminodes 12, 1-2 antisepalous, 2-3 antipetalous, filaments 3 mm long, abortive anthers 1.2 mm long, pistil trifid, 2-3 mm in diam. Fruits globose, orange-red when ripe, 1.6-2.0 cm in diam., exocarp very minutely warted; fruting perianth with sepals 1-2 mm long, connate in 0.2-0.5 mm, lobes reaching or exceeding corolla tube. Seeds about1 cm in diam. (Maria Jose Sanin and Gloria Galeano. 2011)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.
Ceroxylon quindiuense is diagnosed by its robust and white stem, its regularly arranged, completely pendulous and silverish pinnae, staminate flowers with 9-12 (-17) stamens (anther connective not projected), and minutely warted fruits. These characters are constant even among the two very widely disjunct Peruvian and Colombian populations, with very slight variations in flower size that may be due to sampling effects. (Maria Jose Sanin and Gloria Galeano. 2011)/Palmweb.
Ceroxylon quindiuense prefers moist, humus rich, well-drained soils. It prefers an acidic to neutral pH of soil. Position: Full sun to light shade. Slow growing. Ceroxylon quindiuense requires little maintenance. Cold Hardiness Zone: 8b
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!
Etymology: The etymological root of the binomial name Ceroxylon is derived from the Latin Cero meaning ‘coat with wax’ and xulon meaning ‘timber’. Quindiuense is derive from the region from where this palm is indigenous, Quindio, Colombia.
Ceroxylon quindiuense, commonly known as Quindio Wax Palm, Andean Wax Palm or Palma de cera del quindio, is native to mountainous regions of Colombia. This palm is the national tree of Colombia. It is the tallest recorded palm and monocot in the world (200 Ft. tall). The wax on the trunk of this palm was used to produce soap and candles. As a consequence this palm is classified as Vulnerable
Conservation: Ceroxylon quindiuense is known to have been a very abundant species in Colombia until the beginning of the last century, and even if some large populations persist in the Central Cordillera, it has been classified as Endangered (EN; Galeano & Bernal 2005). Most of the forests where this species grows have been turned into pastures, and while hundreds of adult palms are still left standing, the young seedlings do not grow. Besides that, the cutting of young leaves for Palm Sunday during many years, caused the death of many individuals, and a delay in normal growth of the palms. Additionally, in the last decade a new and unknown disease has been causing the death of many adult palms (Cardozo & Guzmán 1993). In Peru, although a formal evaluation has not been made, it is believed that the situation does not differ substantially from the Colombian one (Galeano et al. 2008). (Maria Jose Sanin and Gloria Galeano. 2011)/Palmweb.
Uses: Since 1985, C. quindiuense is the national tree of Colombia (Galeano & Bernal 2005). Until few years ago, the young leaves were cut in large quantities to be used on Palm Sunday during Easter. This practice had become widely commercial, threatening the species, but has been reduced severely in the last few years as a result of law enforcement and widespread campaign. The stems are cut and used for posts, houses and fencing, or split to cover indoor walls. In Colombia, the extraction of wax covering the stems was an economically important activity during the XIXth century, since it was used for manufacturing candles and matches, which were sold at local markets. In order to extract the wax, locals climbed up the stem, but most commonly they felled the palm. Indigenous peoples sold the wax in small "cakes" (Boussingault 1849). The death of hundreds of palms was caused by this practice (Galeano & Bernal 2005). Still today in Peru (Amazonas), adult individuals are felled and laid on black cloths, then pounded until the waxy litter covering the trunk gathers on the cloths as small flakes. These flakes are molten and combined with beeswax to impregnate on linens which are twisted to make torches for outdoor lighting. Also in Peru, the populations of this species are being widely harvested for housing and posts, and the stem ripped for covering indoor walls (Galeano et al. 2008). C. quindiuense is cultivated as ornamental in Colombia. (Maria Jose Sanin and Gloria Galeano. 2011)/Palmweb.
Waxes extracted from trunk (Ceroxylon quindiuense). Ornamental baskets made from leaves at Easter time.
Ecologically, Ceroxylon quindiuense, in its native habitat, provide valuable habitat and food for a number of endangered species. Birds and mammals are attracted to its fruit.
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- THE SAXOPHONE STYLE ROOT GROWTH (HEEL)
Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.
Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.
Special thanks to Palmweb.org, 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).
Sanin, Maria Jose & Galeano, Gloria. 2011. A revision of the Andean wax palms, Ceroxylon (Arecaceae).
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.