Raphia taedigera

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Raphia (rahf-EE-ah)
taedigera (teh-dee-JEHR-ah)
Raphia taedigera ra12893 06.jpg
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Photo by Dr. Reinaldo F. Aguilar.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Raphia (rahf-EE-ah)
taedigera (teh-dee-JEHR-ah)
Raphia nicaraguensis, Sagus taedigera
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Height: 3 m
Sun exposure: High
Watering: Very Moist
Survivability index
Common names
Yolillo palm, Costa Rica="tagua"

Habitat and Distribution

Brazil North, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Panamá.
Costa Rica. Photo by André Cardoso.
It occurs 'naturally' from Nicaragua to Colo"tagua"mbia, and some places in Brazil. In Costa Rica, it is abundant in the Tortuguero National Park. Also it is found in the Osa Peninsula. Found in wet forests and swamps, in Costa Rica, along the Atlantic side and the South Pacific, between 0 and 100 m. elevation.


Palm tree. Stems erect, often cespitose, solitary and clustering (more often), 3 to 12 + m. high, and 25 and 60 cm. in diameter, unarmed. Petioles beyond sheath between 1.5 and 5 + m. long, Unarmed, deeply concave adaxially, with the sheath split. Leaf-blades pinnately compound, 5 to 10 + m. long, Unarmed rachis (except for a single row of short spines along the keel adaxial). From 95-205 leaflets per side, subequal, narrow (0.8 to 6 cm. Wide), more or less regularly spaced, arranged in several planes, with transverse veins adaxially more or less prominent, sometimes more or less pruinosas abaxially, spiny inconspicuously more or less along the margins (especially distally) and midrib adaxially. Plants monoecious. Inflorescences bisexual interfoliar. Profile tubular with two keels. Peduncles "short". Pendulums with approximately six bracts triangular basally inflated limbs. Inflorescence branched up to 3 orders, more or less elongate-cylindrical. All shafts are hidden by bracts ciliate-marginalized, overlapping, truncated, sparsely scaly. Rachis 1 to 3 (to 5) m. long. Rachillae (last axis) between 3.5 and 11 cm. Flowers unisexual, and bracteoladas bracteate, mostly solitary, usually between statistical and tetrásticamente arranged. The female flowers are born in the rachillae baseline, the male distally. Male flowers 7 to 10 mm. Sepals connate into a tube, slightly lobed. Three petals much longer and connate basally in a tube approximately 1/4 to 1/3 of its length. From 8-11 stamens. The filaments are separated or basally connate into a tube. Female flowers 7 to 9 mm. Sepals connate in a tube irregularly lobed. Three petals connate basally in a tube of approximately half its length. Staminodes epipétalo connate into a ring with 6 to 9 different lengths irregular teeth. Sterile anthers short, flattened and sagittate. A trilocular pistil. Style short. Lobed stigma, conical. Ripe fruits of 4.5 to 6.8 x 3.2 to 4 cm., Obovoid to ellipsoid to narrowly-oblong, hard and succulent, covered by 9-11 vertical rows of overlapping scales, reddish brown. Apical stigmatic residue. Raphia taedigera is characterized by multi-stemmed habit. Leaf-blades pinnately compound, extremely long. Narrow pinnae arranged in various planes. Inflorescences pendulous and elongated. Habitat lowland swamp forests. The fruits are large, scaly, and shiny, unique among all Central American palms. Are diagnostic (when available). The plants in the base are surrounded by more or less dense masses of pneumatophores branched. The stems have negatively geotropic adventitious roots between the bases of the dead petioles. The "trunks" consist mainly of petiole bases. (J. Francisco Morales) (From the Spanish) Editing by edric.


These palms appear to grow in dense populations (yolillales) along canals (i.e. Tortuguero canals), they need swampy conditions. They tolerate full sun.

Comments and Curiosities

External Links


Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to Palmweb.org, 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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