Ceroxylon amazonicum Galeano, Caldasia 17: 398 (1995)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/tdwg/geogrphy.html)
Ecuadorpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
Only known from the southeastern slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes (Morona-Santiago and Zamora-Chinchipe), at 820-1200 m, most common around 1000 m. (Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011))B


  • It grows in premontane to tropical rain forest on clayey soils, among typical Amazonian vegetation, which includes palms like Iriartea deltoidea Ruiz & Pav., Wettinia maynensis Spruce and Oenocarpus bataua Mart. On the sites found, it was growing on pastures and forest remnants, with some secondary regeneration after cultivation in Shuar pastures and homegardens. The low elevation and surrounding vegetation is very unusual for the palms of this genus. (Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011))B


  • Ceroxylon amazonicum is diagnosed by its dense crown and leaves with regularly inserted and horizontal pinnae, staminate flowers with 9-12(-13) stamens, and smooth fruits. It is also the species that grows at lowest elevation. (Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011))B


Common Name


  • Canopy palm. Stem solitary, to 20 m tall, 15-25 cm in diameter, grey to white. Leaves to 5 m long; pinnae ca. 100 on each side, regularly inserted in one plane, horizontal, with the terminal part descending, the central ones 50-75 cm long and 4-5 cm wide, below with a thick, white to light brown, waxy indument. Inflorescences arching to pendulous, to 3 m long, branched 3 times. Fruits ca. 2 cm in diameter, smooth, red at maturity. (Borchsenius F., Borgtoft-Pedersen H. and Baslev H. 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)A
  • Stem 8-12(-20) m tall, 12-25 cm diam., internodes covered with thin layer of wax, whitish to greyish.
    Leaves (14-)19-22, in dense, hemispheric crown; sheath 104 cm long, covered with thick, light brown indumentum; petiole 10-15 cm long, 3.5-7.5 cm wide apically, adaxial surface flat and slightly elevated at center, glabrescent, abaxially covered with thick layer of persistent, brownish scales, with a stout, elongated, hammer-shaped base and a fibrous limb that projects upwards; rachis 203-290 cm long, twisted 90° on distal portion thereby holding the pinnae in a vertical position, adaxially flattened in about ½ of its length and ending in a well-defined 2 mm hastula-like projection, glabrescent with remnants of scales near the margins, abaxially convex, covered with oblong, adpressed, white, membranaceous scales; pinnae 83-106 on each side, regularly arranged in one plane, horizontal and straight to pendulous in the basal part of the leaf and straight toward the apex, abaxial surface and midrib covered with yellowish scales, with age falling to reveal the surface in some areas; the most basal filiform pinnae 37-51 × 0.2-0.6 cm, basal pinnae (10th from base and below) 59-60 × 1.2-1.8 cm, middle pinnae 50.0-83.5 × 4.2-5.0 cm, apical pinnae 24-42 × 1.5-2.0 cm, sometimes the apical pinnae united along the margins.
    Staminate inflorescences 5-7 at a time; peduncle 67 cm long, 2.5 cm wide at apex, glabrescent; prophyll 41 cm long, 6 cm wide at base; peduncular bracts 5-6, up to 160 cm long, 5-8 cm wide, with an additional smaller bract inserted near the base of the peduncle, prophyll and peduncular bracts covered by thick indumentum of light brown, fibrous scales; rachis 77-103 cm long, with 97-98 branches, each subtended by a 0.5-2.0 cm long, membranaceous, acuminate bract, rachis and branches glabrescent, longest branches 50 cm.
    Female inflorescences 6-7 at a time; peduncle 124 cm long, 2.7 cm wide at apex; prophyll 45 cm long, 10-11 cm wide at base; peduncular bracts 5, to 153 cm long, an additional, 5 cm bract inserted 5 cm below rachis base; rachis 120 cm long, with ca. 92 branches, longest branches 59 cm; prophyll, peduncle, bracts and base of rachis covered with persistent, light brown to yellowish indumentum, rachillae glabrous.
    Staminate flowers: sepals 3, broadly triangular, 1.0-1.5 mm long, connate in 0.1 mm (ca. 1/10 of total length), exceeding total length of the corolla tube; petals 3, elliptical to long acuminate, 5-7 mm long, connate in 1.0-1.5 mm; stamens 9-12(-13), 3-6 episepalous, and 6-7 epipetalous, filaments 1.0-1.5 mm long, anthers 2.0-3.5 mm long, anther connective not projected.
    Pistillate flowers: sepals 3, broadly triangular-acuminate, 1.0-1.5 mm long, connate for 0.6-1.0 mm (1/2-2/3 of the total length), not reaching edge of corolla tube; petals 3, elliptical-acuminate, 5.0-6.5 mm long, connate up to 1.2 mm, acumen narrow, 1.0-1.5 mm long; staminodes 12, 1 antesepalous, 2?3 antepetalous, filaments 1 mm long, abortive anthers 0.9-1.2 mm long; pistil green, trifid, 2-3 mm diam.
    Fruits globose, orange-red when ripe, 1.7-2.0 cm diam., exocarp smooth.
    Seeds 1.3-1.5 cm diam. (Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011))B

Materials Examined

  • ECUADOR. Morona-Santiago: road from Macas to Sucua, km 3, 02° 18' S, 78° 08' W, 1000 m, 14 July 1985, H. Balslev & A. Henderson 60654 (fr.) (AAU); Parque Nacional de Sangay, Dormono sector at Macas, 02° 17' S, 78° 10' W, ca. 1000 m, 16 January 1987, A. Barfod et al. 60154 (st.fl.) (AAU, COL, QCA). Northern and eastern slopes of Cordillera de Cutucú, 02° 15' S, 78° 00' W, 60-1700 m, 22-26 August 1996, H. Balslev et al. 6452 (juvenile) (AAU). Zamora-Chinchipe: Nangaritza River, 5 min. in canoe down from Miazi military station, 04° 15'S, 78° 41' W, 1000 m, 23 October 1991, B. Bergmann & M. Ruíz 97896 (sterile) (AAU, QCA); Cantón Nangaritza Shaimi, in front of military building, right margin of Nangaritza river, 04°18'S, 78°34' W, 930 m, 27 October 1991, W. Palacios et al. 8745 (st.fl.) (COL, MO, QCA, QCNE); Nangaritza, Nangaritza river, ca. 500 m to SE from village of Yayu, 4° 23' S, 78° 40' W, 910'940 m, 16 November 2002, J. Vormisto & A.Byg 656, 657 (seedling, juvenile) (AAU); Nangaritza, Nangaritza river, 4° 16'S, 78° 37' W, 800?900 m, 3 December 2002, J. Vormisto & A. Byg 678 (sterile) (AAU). (Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011))B

Use Record

  • Ceroxylon amazonicum Galeano: Decoration: leaves (7) (Byg, A. and H. Balslev, Factors affecting local knowledge of palms in Nangaritza valley, Southeastern Ecuador. 2004)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    CulturalRitualEntire leafNot identifiedN/AEcuador
  • Ceroxylon amazonicum Galeano: Palms with edible palm heart eaten by the Shuar are Astrocaryum urostachys (awant’), Ceroxylon amazonicum (paik’), Iriartea deltoidea (ampakai), Mauritia flexuosa (achu), Oenocarpus bataua (kunkuk’), Oenocarpus mapora (shímpi), Prestoea acuminata (sake), Prestoea schultzeana (tinkimi), Socratea exorrhiza (kupat) and Wettinia maynensis (terén). Oenocarpus bataua is considered to have the tastiest palm heart. Palm heart is eaten raw or prepared in tonga. Tonga are made by wrapping a mixture of fish, meat, vegetables and condiments in large banana, Canna edulis or Renealmia alpinia leaves. The tonga are then roasted in an open fire. (…). The leaves of Oenocarpus mapora, Prestoea schultzeana and Wettinia maynensis are used for thatching roofs. (Van den Eynden, V., E. Cueva, and O. Cabrera, Edible palms of Southern Ecuador. 2004)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    Human FoodFoodPalm heartIndigenousShuarEcuador