Chamaedorea nubium

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nubium (noo-BEE-uhm)
CHamaedorea nubium Whtlckz.jpg
So. California.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Chamaedorea
nubium (noo-BEE-uhm)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Caespitose & clustering.
Leaf type: Bifid
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Chamaedorea nubium is found in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico Southeast,
So. California. Chamaedorea nubium (bifid) with Chamaedorea oreophila (pinnate).
Mexico Southwest. MEXICO. Chiapas. Guerrero. Oaxaca. GUATEMALA. Alta Verapaz. Baja Verapaz. El Progreso. Huehuetenango. San Marcos. Zacapa. EL SALVADOR. Chalatenango. Santa Ana. Moist or wet montane forest and cloud forest on the Atlantic and Pacific slopes; alt. 1,500-2,500 m (4900 and 8200 ft.) elevation.


Habit: caespitose (growing in tufts or clumps), erect or decumbent, forming dense or loose and wide-ranging colonies 5-10 m across. Stems: hight to 4 m, 8-10 mm in diam., smooth, green, ringed, rooting and infrequently sprouting at nodes, uppermost internodes short, lower ones to 12 cm long, often covered by persistent leaf sheaths. Leaves: 4-7 per crown, spreading, bifid or rarely pinnate; sheath 20-30 cm long, tubular, obliquely open apically and there lighter green and longitudinally striate-nerved, old sheaths drying brown, persistent; petiole 8-13 cm long, flattened and very slightly grooved near base and green above, rounded and pale below; rachis 8-15 cm long, angled and green above, rounded with pale yellowish band below extending onto sheath; blades to 45 x 30-35 cm, incised apically to 2/3 their length, green or distinctly glaucous below, lobes narrowly long-acute, cuneate-acute basally, interior margins to 20-33 cm long, exterior margins entire or slightly toothed, 12-17 prominent primary nerves on each side of rachis, these keeled and green above, light green below, 2 secondaries between each pair of primaries, tertiaries numerous, faint; or rarely blades partially to completely pinnate, then with rachis 25-33 cm long with 6-13 pinnae on each side, to 31 x 2 cm, linear-Ianceolate, falcate, midrib and a primary nerve on each side of this, these keeled, apical pinnae slightly or much broader than others, to 7-nerved. Inflorescences: infrafoliar, sometimes emerging through persistent sheaths, erect-spreading; peduncles 10-27 cm long, 2-5 mm wide at apex and there rounded, 3-5 mm wide at base and there ± flattened, erect, pale green or yellowish in flower, nodding and red-orange in fruit; bracts 4-5, prophyll 1.5 cm long, 2nd bract 3 cm, 3rd 6.5 cm, 4th 9.5 cm, 5th 5.5 cm and often concealed by 4th, narrowly tubular, obliquely open apically, longitudinally striate-nerved, acute-acuminate, bifid, papery and drying brown in flower, uppermost equalling or slightly exceeding peduncle; rachises 1-4 cm long or more, greenish or yellowish in flower, red-orange in fruit. Staminate with up to 15 rachillae, these 6-15 cm long, 1-2 mm in diam., yellow, spreading and slightly drooping but not pendulous, frequently markedly undulate. Pistillate with up to 10 rachillae or infrequently spicate or forked, these 8-15 cm long, 3-3.5 mm in diam., erect, obtusely angled, and pale green in flower, swollen to 5 mm in diam., downward pointing, and red-orange in fruit, frequently strongly undulate when dry.


Requirements: Full shade to filtered light, this is an understory palm. Consistently moist soil, well drained position. This palm can be propagated by air layering, because the stem nodes will produce roots if kept moist. Its large, entire, deeply bifid leaves that can get to 45 cm (18 in.) long make it a stunning ornamental. It is also one of the more cold tolerant Chamaedorea due to its high altitude habitat and will take prolonged cool temperatures and moderate freezes without harm. It does well in the understory of a cool to warm temperate garden, but is still very rare in cultivation. This palm can be propagated by layering, because the stem nodes will produce roots if kept moist.

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Comments and Curiosities

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

Etymology: Is the Latin word meaning ofthe clouds, apparently in reference to the relatively high elevation, mountain cloud forest habitat, although the authors did not specify the application of the name.

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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