Chamaedorea dammeriana Burret, Notizbl. Bot. Gart. Berlin-Dahlem 11: 737 (1933)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Costa Ricapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Nicaraguapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Panamápresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
COSTA RICA. Alajuela. Guanacaste. Heredia. Limon. Puntarenas. PANAMA. Bocas del Toro. Colon. Panama. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A


  • The description is from Burret (l933a) who described and named C. dammeriana from pistillate material that Koschny collected near San Carlos in Alajuela and staminate material that Wendland collected near the Rio Sarapiqui in Heredia. Bailey (1943a) and my own collections in Limon near the Panamanian border supplement the description. C. dammeriana is one of the most wide ranging and variable species in Costa Rica, occurring on both the Atlantic and Pacific slopes from one end ofthe country to the other. Strangely, it has been collected only infrequently in Panamaand then only in the Atlantic lowlands although it occurs in relative abundance in nearby, adjacent regions of Costa Rica.
    Chamaedorea dammeriana maybe confused with C. chazdoniae but the much smaller, decumbent habit, much less numerous leaves with fewer nerves, spreading staminate rachillae with ovoid flowers lacking a prominent calyx and the stamens shorter than the pistillode, and globose fruits distinguish the latter species.
    Chamaedorea dammeriana is a very handsome plant with a leafy crown holding 12-15 or more leaves. Attractive, bright orange, few-branched or spicate pistillate infructescences with shiny, black fruits emerge from behind leaf sheaths. According to Burret (l933a), Koschny's label stated that the species was known as palma bonita; however, this may merely be a description of the plant and not a common name. Indigenous peoples in the Talamanca region ofLimon Province in Costa Rica refer to C. dammeriana as sirik and maintain that it has magical powers to heal various ailments. Medicine men place a leaf of the species near to and pointed at the ill person. A transfer of " healing power" occurs when the medicine man blows onto the leaf and toward the afflicted individual.
    Pistillate inflorescences are somewhat variable; although usually forked or with three rachillae, they may be spicate when a plant first flowers. I observed a population in the Talamanca region ofLimon that had inflorescences that were spicate, forked, or had three rachillae all on the same plant. Staminate specimens from Panama may have as many as six rachillae while those from Costa Rica usually have two to three rachillae. Immature fruits are narrowly elongate but become more rounded as they mature.
    Leaves are similarly variable; usually blades have a very broad pair ofterminal pinnaeand a few smaller basal ones. At other times the blade may have up to seven pinnae, all about the same size, on each side of the rachis. Still less frequently, blades may be bifid although this usually occurs with young plants flowering for the first times; later, the blades will usually divide. Michael Grayum made a series of collections from the same population in Guanacaste that encompassed leafblades ranging from bifid to completely pinnate with seven pinnae on each side of the rachis. Pistillate inflorescences of this population also varied from spicate to having three rachillae. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Biology And Ecology


  • Habit: solitary, erect, slender, 1-2 m tall. Stem: 7-8 mm diam., green, prominently ringed, internodes to 10 cm long. Leaves: to 15, spreading, not close but well spaced, pinnate, variously pinnate, or rarely bifid; sheath to 15 cm long, tubular, densely longitudinally striate-nerved, obliquely truncated apically; petiole 10-20 cm long, flat and/or grooved and green above, rounded and pale below; rachis to 30 cm long, angled and green above, rounded below with a white band extending onto petiole; blade 30 cm long or more, obovate; pinnae to 7 on each side of rachis, to 20 x 4.5 cm, oblong-Ianceolate, slightly sigmoid, alternate, contracted basally, a midrib and 2-3 prominent primary nerves on each side of this, or variously pinnate with smaller basal pinnae and a broad terminal pair to 10-15 cm wide; or rarely bifid and then incised apically 1/2-2/3 its length, lobes oblong, upper margin obscurely toothed, 7-nerved. Inflorescences: interfoliar, to 45 cm long; peduncles to 30 cm long; bracts 5, prophyll to 2 cm long, others 5-10 cm long, tubular. Staminate with rachis to 4 cm long, green; rachillae 2-6, to 25 cm long, slender, pendulous, green in bud, slightly angled longitudinally. Pistillate forked or with 3 rachillae, infrequently spicate; rachillae or flower-bearing portion to 20 cm long, straight, orange in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in dense spirals, 0.5 mm apart, 2 x 2.5 mm, depressed-globose, leaving elliptic scars 2.5-3 mm long; calyx 0.5 x 2.25 mm, prominent, deeply lobed, membranous, sepals connate in basal 1/4, rounded apically; petals 1.75 x 1.75 mm, ovate, valvate, free nearly to base, sharply acute, nerveless; stamens I mm high, equalling pistillode, filaments short, flared basally, anthers oval; pistillode 1-1.25 mm high, broadly columnar. Pistillate in loose spirals; calyx lobed; petals imbricate, rotund. Fruits: to 1.5 cm long, ± ovoid, narrowed at both ends, black.?? (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Materials Examined

  • COSTA RICA. Alajuela: Burger 11736, 11745 (F); Croat 68174 (MO); Liesner 5173 (MO); Moore 6583 (BH). Guanacaste: Garwood 715 (BM, F); Grayum 4980, 4981, 4982, 4983, 4984 (MO); Moore 6725 (BH). Heredia: Skutch 3462 (GH, K, S), 3464 (GH, K, MO, S); Wendland s.n. (GOET, L). Limon: Hodel 954A, 954B, 956 (BH, CR); Grayum 4397, 5797 (MO); Pittier 8645 (BH), 8646 (BH, BR). Puntarenas: Grayum 9314. Without specific locality, Pittier 7633 (BR). PANAMA. Colon: de Nevers 6228,6241 (CAS). Panama: Knapp 1377 (CAS). (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A