Chamaedorea pochutlensis Liebm., Hist. Nat. Palm. 3: 308 (1849)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Mexico Northwestpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mexico Southwestpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
MEXICO. Colima. Durango. Guerrero. Jalisco. Michoacan. Nayarit. Oaxaca. Sinaloa. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A


  • Liebmann described and named C. pochutlensis in Martius (1849) from material that Liebmann had collected near Pochutla in Oaxaca. It is a variable species and occurs over a rather wide range of nearly 2,000 km (1,300 miles) in western Mexico. Apparently, it is not a common plant anywhere and is usually found as isolated clumps on cliff sides in ravines and canyons.
    Other than its original description and a few other short botanical accounts, mention ofC. pochutlensis is lacking in the literature. On the other hand, the name C. karwinskyana is mentioned frequently in horticultural accounts. Wendland (1853c) described and named C. karwinskyana from material cultivated at Herrenhausen and originally collected in Mexico. Wendland obtained his material from Baron von Karwinski who introduced the species to Europe and who cultivated it at his garden in Munich. C. karwinskyana was apparently cultivated as early as the 1840s in European greenhouses and Mediterranean gardens under the name C. elatior (Guillaumin 1923b). Wendland (1853b) provided an explanation for the misapplication of the name when he pointed out that Martius (1837) confused C. elatior (which Martius himselfhad namedin 1830) with Karwinski's species recently introduced to European gardens from Mexico. In his 1837 work, Martius illustrated this other species as C. elatior. Wendland (1853c) recognized this error and named the other species C. karwinskyana. According to Burret (1935) material referable to C. karwinskyana was still cultivated in European collections as C. elatior as recently as the 1930s.
    Chamaedorea pochutlensis has been cultivated in California since the early 1900s, most ofthe plants there probably originating from collections made in Mexico by Edward Howard for the Doheny Estate in Los Angeles. Plants probably of the same origin were at the Vavra Estate (formerly property of the University ofCalifornia at Los Angeles) in the 1960s and still exist at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. The Huntington has added to its holdings of C. pochutlensis with recent collections from Durango and Jalisco in Mexico.
    Surprisingly, most plants of C. pochutlensis in California are misidentified as C. costaricana. The two are similar in their long-pinnate leaves and clustering habit but the presence on the ligules at the apex of the leaf sheath easily distinguishes C. costaricana, a feature lacking in C. pochutlensis. Hertrich (1951) discussed and Muirhead (1961) illustrated C. pochutlensis at the Huntington Botanical Gardens erroneously as Collinia elegans. Chamaedorea pochutlensis is relatively hardy and tolerates rather high light intenSities. Old established clumps at the Huntington Botanical Gardens showed little damage at - 3°C (26°F) and recovered from severe damage and defoliation at -7°C (19-20° F). Several clumps about 2-3 meters wide and tall at the Huntington are exposed to full sun yet display only slight yellowing on leaves on their south side.
    A hybrid between C. pochutlensis and C. graminifolia is discussed in the chapter on hybrids. Indigenous peoples in Jalisco, Mexico use C. pochutlensis to treat dysentery. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Biology And Ecology



  • Habit: cespitose, erect to leaning, to 3-5 m tall or more, forming ± dense clumps 2-5 m across. Stems: 2-3 cm diam., green, ringed, internodes 10-25 cm long, often covered with persistent sheaths. Leaves: 3-5, erect-spreading, pinnate, to 2 m long; sheath to 30 cm long, tubular, obliquely open apically, longitudinally striate- nerved, green but drying pale or whitish, persistent; petiole to 30 cm long, ± flat and green above but toward base grooved and smooth; green and rounded below; rachis to I m long or more, angled and green above, rounded below with a pale or light green band extending onto sheath, petiole and sheath ± slightly glaucous; pinnae 20-33 on each side of rachis, to 40 x 2-3 cm, long-lanceolate, slightly curved or falcate or ± straight, regularly arranged, alternate or subopposite, plicate and contracted basally and there with a hard whitish swollen gland at point ofattachment with rachis, acute apically, a prominent pale midrib and 2 submarginal primary nerves, secondaries and tertiaries inconspicuous. Inflorescences: infrafoliar, erect-spreading; peduncles 30-40 cm long, 7-10 mm wide at base, 5 mm wide at apex, green in flower, reddish orange in fruit; bracts 5-7, prophyll 3 cm long, 2nd bract 6 cm, 3rd 10 cm, 4th 12 cm, 5th 15 cm, 6th 15-20 cm, 7th 810 cm, fibrous, dry and brownish in flower, obliquely open and bifid apically, acute-acuminate, longitudinally striate-nerved, uppermost exceeding peduncle and extending onto rachis; rachises 10 cm long, green in flower, reddish orange in fruit. Staminate with 12-25 rachillae, these 15-20 cm long, 2-2.5 mm diam., ± drooping, green. Pistillate with 12-18 rachillae, these 15 cm long, 2 mm diam., spreading, green, ± stiff in flower, becoming ± pendulous and reddish orange in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in ± dense spirals, 4-4.5 x 3-3.5 mm, ovoid-globose, bright yellow, strongly aromatic, slightly sunken; calyx 1 x 2.5-3 mm, lobed, green, sepals connate in basal 2/3, rounded to acute apically; petals 3.5-4 x 3 mm, ovate, free nearly to base, spreading, acute and slightly recurved apically, ± thick, fleshy; stamens 2.5 mm high, filaments 1-1.5 mm long, pale, anthers 1.5-2 mm long, not deeply 2-cleft; pistillode 4 mm high, columnar, equalling petals, 3-lobed apically, yellowish. Pistillate in remote spirals, 4-5 x 3 mm, ovoid, yellow; calyx 1-1.5 x 3 mm, deeply lobed, green, sepals briefly connate and/ or imbricate basally, broadly rounded apically; petals 3 x 3 mm, deltoid, imbricate nearly to apex, spreading, free and erect apically, acute; pistil 3.5 x 2.5-3 mm, ovoid-globose, green, styles very short or lacking, stigma lobes short, recurved to erect, dark, equalling petals. Fruits: 12-13 x 8-10 mm, globose-ellipsoid, black with glaucous bloom.?? (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Materials Examined

  • MEXICO. Colima: Sanders 8146 (RSA, UCR), 10241 (UCR). Durango: Kimnach 1689, 1781 (HNT). Guerrero: Moore 6202 (BH). Jalisco: Boutin 3113 (HNT); McVaugh 10222, 20444, 23385 (MICH); Mexia 1573 (F, GH). Michoacan: Hinton 15984 (RSA); Rzedowski s.n. (MICH). Nayarit: Boutin 2090 (HNT); McVaugh 15265 (MICH), 16517 (BH, MICH). Oaxaca: Hodel 934A, 934B, 940 (BH, MEXU). Sinaloa: Gentry 5605 (GH, MICH), 7281 (MICH, RSA); Rose 1793 (GH). (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A