Chelyocarpus ulei

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ulei (OO-lee)
Chelyocarpus ulei32.jpg
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, FL. Photo by Dr. Scott Zona.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Chelyocarpus
ulei (OO-lee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Costa palmate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Chelyocarpus ulei is found in Brazil North, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. W Amazon region in
Miami, FL. Photo by Kyle Wicomb.
Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, found in rainforests usually below 500 m elevation.


Chelyocarpus ulei is a single-stemmed palm, with fan-shaped leaves. The stem is 1 to 8 metres (3 ft 3.4 in to 26 ft 3.0 in) tall, and 4 to 7 centimetres (1.6 to 2.8 in) in diameter. Trunk type: Solitary. With palmate leaves up to 1.6 metres (5 feet) across, at the end of a 1-1.5 metre (3-4.5 feet) petiole. The leaves are deeply split, and silvery white underneath. Leaf detail: Palmately compound, with relatively even segmented divisions, erect leaves.

Understorey palm. Stem solitary, erect, to 5 m tall, 6-8 cm in diameter. Leaves with petiole 1-1.5 m long; blade palmate 1.2-1.6 m in diameter, silverish white below, deeply split into 8-10 segments, that in their turn are partially split for up to half their length into one-ribbed teeth. Inflorescences 60-100 cm long, the basal part covered with bracts with a greyish white waxy tomentum. Flowers 3-5 mm long, first cream coloured, then purplish. Fruits 2-3 cm in diameter, light brown, with corky-warty surface. (Borchsenius, F. 1998)

The only native Ecuadorian representative of the Coryphoid palm subfamily. (Borchsenius, F. 1998)


Requirements: Filtered light when young, full sun when mature, consistently moist soil, well drained position. Warm, sheltered and moist. Tropical in its requirements. Rare in cultivation.

Comments and Curiosities

Uses: Basketry, leaf. Umbrella, leaf. Roofing, leaf. Food, fruit. Stingers and Beams, stem. Firewood, stem. Blowgun, stem. Tools, stem.

"Rare Brazilian understory fan palm - at least rare in cultivation. Not sure of cold sensitivity, but suspect not that hardy. Has very ornamental leaves that are completely circular, but completely divided down to the petioles in sections. The leaflets between each divistion are serated at the tips. No petiolar spines. Palms looks a lot like Licuala species." (Geoff Stein)

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).

Borchsenius, F.1998. Manual to the palms of Ecuador. AAU Reports 37. Department of Systematic Botany, University of Aarhus, Denmark in collaboration with Pontificia Universidad Catalica del Ecuador.

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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