Chamaedorea tepejilote

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tepejilote (teh-peh-yih-LOH-teh)
Chamaedorea tepejilote 003.JPG
Scientific Classification
Genus: Chamaedorea
tepejilote (teh-peh-yih-LOH-teh)
Stephanostachys tepejilote, Chamaedorea exorrhiza, Chamaedorea anomospadix
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary, solitary caespitose, clustering, & clustering caespitose.
Leaf type: Pinnate
Height: 20 feet/6 m
Trunk diameter: 3 inches/8 cm
Sun exposure: Shade
Survivability index
Common names
Tepejilote, pacaya, guaya, chiib, cana verde, ixquil-quib, chimp, bojon, aula-te, chern-chern, ternero, pacaya grande - Guatemala and Mexico; palmito dulce-Costa Rica; boda, bola, nuru, cana verde - Panama.

Habitat and Distribution

Chamaedorea tepejilote is found in Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador,
Young Plant, Hawaii.
Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Southwest, Nicaragua, and Panamá. Moist or wet forest on the Atlantic and Pacific slopes; alt. 0-1,600 m elevation; often on limestone.


Usually solitary trunked but a rarer clustering variety is also found. C. tepejilote has one of the fattest and tallest trunks of all the Chamaedoreas at about 3 inches (7.6 cm) in diameter reaching heights of 20 feet (6.5 m) or more. Green ringed trunk with white leaf base scars have visual affinities to bamboo culms, especially when planted en masse. The long, wide, tapering "S" shaped (aka falcate) leaflets fall from the rachis (or droop a bit) in a relaxed manner that just screams tropical rain forest palm. The leaflets of this species are thinner than most,with prominent striations. Though many 'bamboo-like' Chamaedoreas have a pale line along the ventral surface of the petiole, it is the most pronounced in this species, and is a characteristic that can help identify it.

Habit: solitary, sometimes caespitose (growing in tufts or clumps), erect, sometimes decumbent, 2-7 m tall or more, if cespitose, forming clumps 3-4 m wide. Stems: 2-10 cm in diam., green, prominently ringed, internodes 2-15 cm long, often with more or less prominent prop roots basally. Leaves: 3-7 per crown, spreading, pinnate; sheath 20-40 cm long, tubular, obliquely open apically, green, striate-nerved; petiole 10-30 cm long, slightly grooved and green above, rounded and pale below; rachis 0.5-1.4 m long, angled and green above, rounded below with a distinct yellow band extending onto sheath; pinnae 12-25 on each side of rachis, middle pinnae the largest, these 16-70 x 3.5-7.5 cm, broadly linear-lanceolate to long-lanceolate, sigmoid, falcate, narrowed basally, long-acuminate apically, sub-opposite, spreading or sometimes drooping, thin, lustrous green, 5-10 primary nerves keeled above, yellowish and shining below with 4-5 or even more secondaries interspaced, often nearly as prominent as primaries, tertiaries fine and numerous especially in large pinnae. Inflorescences: infrafoliar, erect-spreading, solitary, 25-60 cm long; peduncles 6-27 cm long, stout, thick; bracts 4-5, to 20 cm long, lower short and truncate, upper rather prominently inflated and hoodlike, ± fibrous, drying ± woody, longitudinally striatenerved, green becoming brownish in flower and fruit; rachises 1-30 cm long, green to yellow in flower, red-orange in fruit. Staminate with 7-50 rachillae, these 6-17 cm long, spreading or pendulous, yellow-green. Pistillate with 5-20 rachillae, these 3-30 cm long, ± thick, spreading, straight or flexuous, ± angled, greenish yellow to green, minutely white-spotted in flower, red-orange in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in 4-8 very dense spirals, contiguous, 22.5 x 3.5-5 mm, depressed-globose, irregularly shaped by mutual pressure, yellow, aromatic, seated in shallow elliptic depressions 2.5-3 mm long; calyx 0.5 x 3.5-5 mm, scarcely lobed, ringlike, membranous, green, partially adnate to sides of depression and similarly shaped, sepals connate nearly to apex, straight apically; petals 2-2.5 x 2.5-3.5 mm, deltoid, valvate, appearing as though connate basally due to crowding but essentially distinct, inflexed in bud, spreading apically at anthesis, ± fleshy, thick, lightly nerved on inside; stamens equalling or barely exceeding petals, filaments 1.25-1.5 mm long, green, anthers 0.5-0.75 mm long, ellipsoid, separated basally, entire apically, yellow; pistillode 0.75-1.25 mm high, shorter than or equalling stamens, slender, 3-lobed apically. Pistillate in dense or lax spirals, 2-2.5 x 4-5 mm, conic subglobose, greenish to yellow or whitish, slightly sunken in shallow elliptic-rounded depressions 1.5-3 mm in diam.; calyx 0.5 x 4-5 mm, deeply or scarcely lobed, greenish, membranous, becoming undulate in fruit, sepals free or briefly connate and/or imbricate basally, broadly rounded apically; petals 2-2.5 x 4-5 mm, broadly ovate to triangular, imbricate nearly to apex, ± thick, fleshy, rounded to acute apically, usually undulate and brown-margined in fruit; staminodes 0-6, small, subtriangular; pistil 2-2.5 x 3-4.5 mm, yellow-green, globose, styles lacking, stigma lobes sessile but exserted well beyond petals, separated, recurved, angled, clear-colored. Fruits: to 10-15(20) x 7-8 mm, ellipsoid to ovoid or nearly globose, blue-green maturing black, abortive carpels generally adherent to fruit, epicarp thin, slightly membranous, mesocarp slightly fleshy, green, aromatic, endocarp slightly membranous, fibrous; seeds 9-11 x 5-6.5 mm, ellipsoid, brownish. (Hodel, D.R. 1992)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


This is a shade loving species. Even small amounts of direct sun will result in yellowing and burn. Plant this palm under a tall canopy as it's fast growing and often outgrows it's canopy only to expose itself to be damaged by the sun. This is a great indoor palm. As with most Chamaedoreas, fresh seed germinates readily and with high germination rates.

In southern California this is considered a moderately hardy Chamaedorea, tolerating some mild frosts down to around 28F. It does not tolerate hard freezes well, though, nor does it like intense, dry heat or winds. Shredding of the delicate leaflets is a common problem in many areas of southern California where Santa Ana winds occur.

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Comments and Curiosities

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

Etymology: Is the vernacular name for the species.

The clustering variety is quite rare and sought after by collectors. The more common and readily available solitary variety can easily be multi-planted to achieve the desired effect.

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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