Chamaedorea allenii L.H.Bailey, Gentes Herb. 6: 241 (1943)

Primary tabs

no image available


Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Colombiapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Panamápresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B


  • C. allenii is an attractive, singlestemmed palm with a striking, bright yellow, spicate or forked staminate inflorescence. Bailey (1943a) described and named C. allenii from material that Paul Allen collected near El Valle, Cocle Province, Panama. It occurs predominantly in mountain forests at middle elevations on the Pacific slope usually at or near the Continental Divide. Bailey described C. allenii from a pistillate collection only; fruits and staminate flowers were not seen. We were successful in establishing plants in the greenhouse in Los Angeles from the type locality. These have flowered and, fortunately, we have plants of both sexes and have successfully hand-pollinated them and obtained fruits.
    Chamaedorea allenii seems to exhibit two vegetative phases. The first consists of deeply bifid leaves; later, plants develop leaves that are pinnate. Flowering and fruiting is most closely associated with the pinnate-leaved phase. However, the two phases cannot be considered strictly juvenile and adult since flowering and fruiting have been observed on some plants with bifid leaves.
    Bifid-leaved forms of C. allenii are similar vegetatively and in fruit to C. deckeriana. This latter species is found mainly on the Atlantic slopes from low to middle elevations. Their ranges do not seem to overlap greatly, if at all. C. deckeriana is clearly distinct in the green leaf sheaths, green staminate flowers, multiple staminate inflorescences at a node, and smooth, red-orange mature fruits.
    Galeano and Bernal (1987) reported C. deckeriana from northwestern Colombia but the accompanying description seems to refer to C. allenii. Chazdon (1987) reported C. allenii from Braulio Carrillo National Park on the Atlantic slope ofCosta Rica but this species is probably C. crucensis or an unnamed taxon. Rare in cultivation, C. allenii occurs in only a few gardens in California, Florida, and Australia. Its yellow staminate inflorescence is quite attractive but lasts for only a day or two. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Biology And Ecology


  • Habit: solitary, erect or decumbent, to 2 m tall or more but sometimes flowering when stemless. Stem: 1.5-2 cm diam., green, smooth, conspicuously ringed, internodes 3-10 cm long. Leaves: 4-6, spreading, pinnate but sometimes flowering when bifid or variously pinnate; sheath 25 cm long, tubular in basal '/2, white-margined apically transitioning to dark basally, longitudinally striate-nerved; petiole 25-35 cm long, 5-7 mm thick, lightly grooved and green above, rounded and with a light green band below; rachis 30-45 cm long or more, obtusely angled and green above, rounded with a light green band below extending onto sheath; blade 60-70 cm long, firm textured, glossy; pinnae 7-9 per side, 25-30 x 3-6 cm, narrowly lanceolate, slightly sigmoid or falcate, acute-acuminate, drooping at tip, ± narrowed basally, subopposite or alternate, regularly placed, 8-10 nerved, these light-colored and pronounced below, end pair of pinnae wider; if blade bifid then to 50 x 30 cm, rachis to 30 cm long, lobes to 25 cm long, 50 prominent nerves on each side of rachis. Inflorescences: interfoliar, erect, often infrafoliar and horizontal in fruit, spicate, less often forked or with 3 rachiIlae. Staminate with peduncle 15-25 cm long, 5-8 mm wide at base and ± flattened, 5 mm diam. at apex and rounded, pale or white, ascending or horizontal; bracts 4, prophyll 2 cm long, 2nd bract 7 cm, 3rd 12 cm, 4th 15 cm, tubular basally, ± inflated apicaIly, thin-leathery, acute-acuminate, bifid, uppermost exceeding peduncle, light green in flower; rachis or flower-bearing portion or rachillae 10-20 x 0.5-1 cm, pendulous. Pistillate with peduncle 20 cm long, 8 mm wide at base and ± flattened, 6-8 mm diam. at apex and rounded, light green in flower, orange in mature fruit; bracts 4, similar to those of staminate but becoming tattered, brown, and ± fallen away in fruit, upper one ± equalling peduncle; rachis or flower-bearing portion to 10 x 1 cm, straight in flower, ± stiff, curved, swollen, and red-orange in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in 8 dense spirals, contiguous in bud, 3.5 x 2.5 mm, ± ovoid, angled by mutual pressure, bright yellow; calyx prominent, 2 x 2.5 mm, scarcely lobed, whitish, sepals connate nearly to apex, forming a sheathing hyaline tube, ± straight apically; petals 3 x 2 mm, ovate, valvate, free in apical 1/2, spreading, rounded-acute, slightly erect, thickened, thicker distally, slightly grooved on inside; stamens 1.75 mm high, filaments thick, 1.5 x 0.5 mm, anthers in a close ring around pistillode, 1 x 0.5 mm; pistillode extending just above anthers, 2 x 0.5 mm, swollen basally. Pistillate in 8 dense spirals, contiguous in bud, 2.5 x 3.5 mm, depressed-globose, bright yellow, sunken in shallow pits but so densely packed as to appear to be immersed in axis; calyx prominent, 1.5 x 3.5 mm, shallowly undulate, whitish, sepals connate nearly to apex, forming a tight hyaline sheath around base of flower, ± straight apically; petals 2.5 x 2.5 mm, broadly triangular, cupped, imbricate nearly to apex, margins rounded, straight apically but with a small acute point; staminodes lacking; pistil 2 x 2 mm, conic, fleshy, whitish, stigma lobes sessile, spreading or erect, prominent, barely exceeding petals. Fruits: 7-10 mm diam., densely packed, globose but angled from mutual pressure, black, epicarp rough; seeds 5-7 mm diam., globose but slightly angled, brown. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Materials Examined