Geonoma undata

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Geonoma (geo-NO-mah)
undata (oon-DAH-tah)
GuIMG 3881 zpseb338c37.jpg
San Francisco CA. Darold Petty garden. Photo by Eric Arneson.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Geonoma (geo-NO-mah)
undata (oon-DAH-tah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary & clustering.
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Red Crownshaft Palm

Habitat and Distribution

Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador,
San Francisco CA. Darold Petty garden. Photo by Eric Arneson.
French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Leeward Is., Mexico Southeast, Nicaragua, Panamá, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Windward Is.


Palm 5.4 (0.9-17.0) m tall; stems 4.5 (0.7-15.0) m tall, 2.0 (0.9-5.0) cm in diameter, solitary or clustered, not cane-like or caespitose (growing in tufts or clumps); internodes 1.3 (0.5-5.7) cm long, yellowish and smooth. Leaves 10 (4-17) per crown, undivided or irregularly pinnate, not plicate or plicate, bases of blades running diagonally into the rachis; sheaths 39.4 (5.0-97.5) cm long; petioles 30.7 (0.0-113.0) cm long, drying green or yellowish; rachis 101.1 (17.0-265.0) cm long, 9.3 (2.2-28.1) mm in diameter; veins raised and rectangular in cross-section adaxially or not raised or slightly raised and triangular in cross-section adaxially; pinnae 19 (1-65) per side of rachis; basal pinna 43.3 (14.0-83.0) cm long, 3.2 (0.3-27.0) cm wide, forming an angle of 48 (10-90)° with the rachis; apical pinna 32.7 (8.0-66.0) cm long, 9.6 (0.1-30.0) cm wide, forming an angle of 25 (5-41)° with the rachis. Inflorescences branched 1-3? orders; prophylls and peduncular bracts not ribbed with elongate, unbranched fibers, flattened (if tubular, narrow, and elongate then not ribbed), deciduous or persistent; prophylls 27.8 (5.4-49.0) cm long, prophylls not short and asymmetrically apiculate, the surfaces ridged and densely tomentose with widely to closely spaced ridges, the ridges unequally wide, often dividing from and rejoining other ridges, the prophyll margins with irregular, spine-like projections (rarely these absent), the prophylls usually splitting irregularly between the ridges; peduncular bracts 18.7 (7.0-39.0) cm long, well-developed, inserted 2.9 (0.4-11.0) cm long; peduncles 18.4 (4.7-50.0) cm long, 10.5 (1.5-34.4) mm in diameter; rachillae 21 (3-80), 19.7 (5.0-54.0) cm long, 3.7 (0.8-9.4) mm in diameter, the surfaces without spiky, fibrous projections or ridges, drying brown or yellow-brown, without short, transverse ridges, not filiform and not narrowed between the flower pits; flower pits usually spirally arranged, sometimes decussately or tricussately, then the groups not closely spaced nor consistently arranged throughout the rachillae, glabrous internally; proximal lips apiculate and lobed before anthesis, tearing in the center after anthesis, not recurved after anthesis, not hood-shaped; proximal and distal lips drying the same color as the rachillae, not joined to form a raised cupule, the proximal lip margins overlapping the distal lip margins; distal lips well-developed; staminate and pistillate petals not emergent, not valvate throughout; staminate flowers deciduous after anthesis; stamens 6; thecae diverging at anthesis, inserted almost directly onto the filament apices, the connectives bifid but scarcely developed; anthers short and curled over at anthesis; non-fertilized pistillate flowers persistent after anthesis; staminodial tubes crenulate or shallowly lobed at the apex, those of non-fertilized pistillate flowers not projecting and persistent after anthesis; fruits 9.5 (4.4-15.4) mm long, 6.9 (3.8-12.0) mm in diameter, the bases with a prominent, asymmetric stipe, the apices not conical, the surfaces not splitting at maturity, without fibers emerging, bumpy from the numerous, subepidermal, tangential, short fibers present, these coming to a point at fruit apices; locular epidermis without operculum, sculpted, usually also with a raised, meridional ridge, without pores. (Henderson, A.J. 2011)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Tolerates cool, wet conditions, but needs a good rich, but light medium.

"My plants of Geonoma undata are the high elevation form propagated by Dick Endt. I purchased three plants from Landsendt in January of 2001. G. undata has a wide range of geographic location and altitude. My palms came from a wild population in southern Ecuador, south of the city of Loja at an approximate elevation of 2600 m (8500 ft). In 1996 I collected seed from supposed G. undata at 1560 m (4800 ft) along the highway from Quito toward Tinalandia on the western Andean slope. This lower elevation form failed to grow in my garden, but I believe this might be the form Matty B is growing in San Diego. I planted the first of my three palms on June 28th, 2001. It now has 61 cm (24") of clean trunk with diameter of 15 cm (4.8"). I have also grown G. weberbaueri, but with poor results and have no surviving plants. My high elevation form of G. undata is a true cloud forest plant. It wants very bright light, but not all-day harsh sun: high humidity, constant moisture, and cool temperatures with little day/night variation. If the potting medium of a potted plant dries out, it is always fatal. The plants grow leaves quickly all 12 months of the year and actually slow down during warmer weather. The two pictures show my largest of the three plants, the leaf coloration in the photo is muted, and the color in life is often darker and more dramatic. The leafbase photo was taken just after two leaf abcissions in a short time. The color will darken all the way down in time. In a related thread, there is a discussion of palms at the extremities of their range. I am growing a palm from 4 degrees south latitude and 2600 m. Here in San Francisco, my garden is 38 degrees north latitude and 85 m elevation!" (Darold Petty). See photos below.

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Comments and Curiosities

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).

Henderson, A.J. 2011. A revision of Geonoma. Magnolia Press.

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

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