Chamaedorea plumosa

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plumosa (ploom-OH-sah)
Scientific Classification
Genus: Chamaedorea
plumosa (ploom-OH-sah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Chamaedorea plumosa is found in Mexico Southeast. Dense, wet forest on the
Lemon Grove, California.
Pacific slope; alt. 1,000 m elevation.


This slender trunked solitary species grows rapidly to 10-12 ft/3-3.6 m with a trunk of less than 2 in/5 cm. The many thin plumose leaflets (from which the epithet derives) are clustered in groups around the rachis, finely pinnate and densely plumose green leaves with very narrow leaflets. Usually has 5 to 9 plumose leaves with 120 to 170 irregularly arranged leaflets. The petioles get a white, chalky substance on them that can be wiped away. One of the largest species in the genus, it forms a trunk up to 2.5 inches in diameter with prominent rings and looks somewhat like a miniature version of the Syagrus romanzoffiana / Queen Palm. Editing by edric.

Habit: solitary, erect or decumbent, to 2-3 m tall. Stem: 6 cm in diam., green, ringed, internodes 7.5 cm long. Leaves: 5-7 per crown, erect-spreading, pinnate; sheath 25 cm long, splitting opposite petiole and obliquely long-open, clasping tightly only in basal 1/2; petiole 30-35 cm long, slightly grooved and green above, rounded and pale-banded below; rachis 1 m long, slender and attenuate apically, sharply angled and green above, rounded and green below; pinnae 110-160 on each side of rachis, lower middle the largest, these to 35-37 x 12-13 cm, becoming progressively smaller toward apex of rachis, broadly rhombic-lanceolate, regularly arranged, opposite or subopposite, slightly sigmoid, ± downward-cupped, long-acuminate with drooping tips, narrowly contracted basally with 8-10 nerves, these not very prominent above, more prominent with an equal number of secondary nerves below.


Often described as the most sun tolerant Chamaedorea, and with its compact rapid growth habit, it is curious this palm is not seen more in smaller suburban landsacapes. A small grouping can be a nice accent in any garden. It can take some frost, and since it can tolerate less than constant moisture, it should be one of the more popular Chamaedoreas. A thick layer of chunky mulch can be pilled up against the trunk in dry climates to promote growth of prop roots. Once desired amount of roots are formed, the mulch can be lowered to grade level to reveal this interesting feature. It will thrive in warm temperate to tropical climates and, unlike most Chamaedoreas. The light Requirement is usually filtered light and along the Coast in SoCal., will tolerate near full Sun. Regular watering will be sufficient but best when kept moist. Plumosa will grow in almost any type soil, but will do best in rich fast draining loam. The growth rate is rapid as compared to other palms. Appearance is best when planted in multiples. Easily set seeds if male and female are in close proximity. Fruit is black and about 0.4 inch round on orange bracts. This tree can also be grown as a houseplant.

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Comments and Curiosities

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

Several small groupings of these palms have been noticed to be exclusively male. Since they all originate from seed, this would appear to be purely coincidence. Further verification of this phenomenon would be interesting.

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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