Chamaedorea elegans

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elegans (EHL-eh-ganz)
Chamaedorea elegans umhlangaz.jpg
Scientific Classification
Genus: Chamaedorea
elegans (EHL-eh-ganz)
Chamaedorea lindeniana, Chamaedorea martiana, Collinia humilis, Chamaedorea humilis, Chamaedorea helleriana, Chamaedorea deppeana, Neanthe bella, Neanthe elegans, Collinia elegans, Chamaedorea pulchella, Chamaedorea elegantissima.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Good-luck palm, neanthe bella, collinia; pacaya, pacayito, xate, kiik (Guatemala); tepejilote, palma camedor, pesmilla, palmilla de hojas, angostas, palmita camedor, palma fina, tutchast, (Mexico). Bella palm, Parlor palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Chamaedorea elegans is found in Belize, Guatemala, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf,
Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden.
Mexico Northeast, Mexico Southeast, and Mexico Southwest in moist or wet, dense forest on the Atlantic slope to 1,400 m elevation; often on limestone.


Chamaedorea elegans is almost immediately recognizable, even by the causal observer since it is one of the most widely used house plants in the world. It has found it's way into countless doctor's offices, malls, and many homes. This solitary species to 2 m in height is usually planted as a grouping in pots and sold at super markets, nurseries, and anywhere interior landscaping plants are offered. Since the lower fronds fall off and expose the .8-1.5 cm clean bright green stem, it is especially appealing for its low pruning necessities and growth form which has indivduals growing at varying rates, thus rendering a multi-teered effect in such groupings. Editing by edric.


Requirements: Full shade to heavily filtered light, consistently moist soil, well drained position, will tolerate extreme drought, often planted more than one to a container. Probably the most commonly grown indoor palm in the world. Very resiliant to low light, air-conditioning, drying out, and over watering (tho not necessarily enjoying any of them. Shaded, sheltered, and moist. Very good indoor plant. One of the best indoor Chamaedoreas, tolerating crowded roots and low light levels. Since lower leaves drop from the plant as it grows, older palms have all their foliage on top of the bright green, shiny stem. It grows five to eight feet tall but is usually kept smaller by pruning the stem back nearly to the ground. Growing very slowly, this pale green, single-stemmed palm is most effective when potted three or more to a container. It can also be an effective accent plant in a ground hugging ground cover in a small scale garden. While excellent when used for a house plant, Parlor Palm can also be used outdoors in a shady understory setting as an accent. The showy stems are bright green.

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Comments and Curiosities

Chamaedorea elegans is truly a versatile and "elegant" plant as the epithet indicates. It can make an elegant statement in the house, as a border plant in the garden, it is excellent as a small palm for a terrarium or bonsai, and even can be placed singly in those hard to plant nooks and crannies in the garden. On the downside, it is somewhat susceptible to mites and thrips and is considered a prime host of several injurious nematodes.

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

Etymology: From the Latin elegans meaning elegant.

Uses: The inflorescences have a slightly bitter taste, and are considered a delicacy in El Salvador and Guatemala. They are usually eaten in salads, or covered in egg batter and fried. The latter dish is called "rellenos de pacaya", and is often served with tomato sauce, like chiles rellenos.

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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