Lytocaryum insigne

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Lytocaryum (ligh-toh-KAR-yuhm)
insigne (in-SIG-neh)
Photos by H. Lorenzi.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Lytocaryum (ligh-toh-KAR-yuhm)
insigne (in-SIG-neh)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Highland Miniature Coconut Palm

Habitat and Distribution

Santa Maria, Madelena, Brazil. Location: Brazil
Near the town of Teresopolis, Serra das Orgaos National Park. Brazil. Photo by Paul Craft
(-22.009878°N, -42.043091°E)


Stem to 12 m tall and about 10 cm in diameter. Leaves 8–20 in the crown, pinnate and ± straight, about 1.3 m long, leaflets 0.9–1.5 cm in width. Petiole and rachis covered with dense blackish-brown hairs. Inflorescence with 35–50 primary branches. Fruits ovoid, 3–3.3 cm long, brownish green. (Dr. LARRY R. NOBLICK and Dr. HARRI LORENZI) Editing by Edic.


Lytocaryum insigne is larger than L. weddellianum and grows to 12 m tall and can withstand full sun exposure. It also occurs at a much higher elevation (1000-1800 m alt.) in seasonally dry forests in Nova Friburgo prov. Rio de Janerio, Brazil, which should also make this the cold-hardiest of the Lytocaryum. ( Cold Hardiness Zone: 9a

Comments and Curiosities

The more robust Lytocaryum insigne can be distinguished from the more delicate L. weddellianum by its taller stem (10–12 m vs. 2.5–3 m), wider middle leaflets (to 1.5 cm vs. 0.8 cm), greater tolerance to full sun (persisting in forest clearings) and different habitats: seasonally dry forests (1000–1800 m alt.) (Fig. 8) vs. more humid forests (to 800 m alt.). (Dr. LARRY R. NOBLICK and Dr. HARRI LORENZI)

This elegant palm originates from high altitudes in the coastal cloud forest in southeastern Brazil between 1000 and 1800 m (3300 and 5900 ft.) in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo. It has long been confused and considered synonymous with L. weddellianum and even though superficially similar, it is clearly a distinct species. It makes a stunning ornamental, with beautiful, finely pinnate, arching leaves atop a slender trunk and is suited to climates ranging from cool temperate to cool tropical. It will tolerate light frosts and grows best in humus-rich, acidic soil. (Tobias W. Spanner/ Rare Palm

"This palm is a close relative of lytocaryum weddellianum, with one critical difference: it originates from high altitudes between 3000 and 6000 ft in the coastal cloud forest in the southeastern Brazilian states of Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo. It looks very close in form to lytocaryum weddellianum but should be even more cool tolerant and thus much faster in the foggy parts of Norcal." (Dr. Axel Kratel)

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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