Chamaedorea microphylla H.Wendl., Bot. Zeitung (Berlin) 17: 102 (1859)

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


  • The description is from Wendland (1859) who described and named C. microphylla from cultivated material at the Berlin Botanic Garden that Warscewicz had introduced to European gardens from Chiriqui about the middle ofthe 19th century. It had disappeared from the annals ofbotany and horticulture and had not been recollected until recently. In 1991 we rediscovered it in moist, windswept, ridge forest on the Pacific slope in the Fortuna area ofChiriqui. C. microphylla is a dainty species with thin, downward-cupped, dark green pinnae markedly contracted basally. The stem is so densely white-spotted that it appears white throughout.
    Staminate flowers of C. microphylla are distinctive in their fragile and delicate nature. Sepals, petals, and even stamens and the pistillode are membranous and nearly transparent when dry. Pistillate flowers also have a fragile and delicate nature but less so than the staminate.
    Standley (1937) and others have erroneously referred material with a dwarf, stemless habit from wet forests at middle elevations ofthe Atlantic slope of Costa Rica near the Rio Sarapiqui to C. microhylla. However, this material is best referred to C. scheryi. Although C. microphylla and C. scheryi are in subgenus Chamaedoropsis, the decurrent pinnae, stemless habit, pinnate eophylls, and long-pedunculate, few-branched inflorescences with a short rachis that appear to arise from the ground distinguish C. scheryi. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Biology And Ecology



  • Habit: solitary, slender, erect, to 1 m tall. Stem: 1.5 cm diam., smooth, densely white-spotted and ± glaucous, internodes 4-7 cm long. Leaves: 3-5, erect-spreading, pinnate; sheath 7-9 cm long, tubular, briefly open apically, moderately thick, longitudinally striate- nerved; petiole 10 cm long, flattened and grooved toward base and green above, rounded and green below; rachis to 25 cm long, angled and green above, rounded below with a narrow pale band extending onto sheath; rachis, petiole, and upper part of sheath minutely white-spotted; pinnae 7-9 on each side of rachis, middle ones 10-17 x 3-4 cm, narrowly lanceolate to oblonglanceolate or long-trapezoid, lowest pinnae lanceolate and long-acuminate, to 9 x 1 cm, ± reflexed, sigmoid, falcate, abruptly short-acuminate, strongly contracted basally, dull dark green, not decurrent, alternate or subopposite, downward-cupped so drying wrinkled, thin, nearly transparent when dry, middle and upper ones regularly spaced, lower ones closer together, prominent midrib as well as 2 primary nerves on each side of this and several secondaries, upper pair confluent with 3 prominent nerves, interior margin 7-9 cm long. Inflorescences: infrafoliar, erect-spreading; peduncles 15-40 cm long, 4-5 mm wide at base, 1-2 mm diam. at apex, green in flower where exposed; bracts 5-7, prophyll to 1.5 cm long, 2nd bract 2 cm, 3rd 6 cm, 4th-6th 9-12 cm, 7th 9 cm long and equalling or exceeding peduncle, tubular, thin-papery, brownish at anthesis, shredded or fallen away in fruit, bifid, acute-acuminate, longitudinally-striated. Staminate with rachis 5-10 cm long, flexuous, longitudinally angled, green, nodding; rachillae 12-15, 10-18 cm long, narrowly divergent from rachis, spreading basally, drooping apically, longitudinally angled, simple or lower rachillae forked, green. Pistillate with rachis 3-7 cm long, flexuous, longitudinally angled, green in flower, probably orange or red in fruit; rachillae 7-12, these 4-8 cm long, slender, ± straight but flexuous, strongly undulate when dry, narrowly divergent from rachis, spreading, simple or some of lower ones forked, green in flower, probably orange or red in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in loose spirals, 2.5-3 x 2-2.5 mm, ovoid, yellow, slightly sunken in elliptic to oblong pits 2-2.5 mm long; calyx 0.5-0.75 x 2-2.5 mm, shallowly lobed, membranous, transparent when dry, sepals connate in basal 3/4, rounded to acute apically; petals 3 x 1-1.5 mm, long-ovate, valvate, free nearly to base, spreading apically, acute, membranous, nearly transparent and lightly nerved when dry; stamens 1.5-1.75 mm high, filaments 1-1.5 x 0.3 mm, basally flared and connate and forming a ring around pistillode, anthers 0.5 mm long, elliptic to oval; pistillode 2 mm high, broadly columnar, tip expanded. Pistillate in loose spirals, in bud 1.5-1.75 x 1.5 mm, conicovoid, yellow, slightly sunken in elliptic to oval depressions 1.5 mm long; calyx 0.5 x 1.5 mm, lobed, membranous, green, sepals imbricate in basal 1/2-3/4, rounded to acute apically; petals 1.75 x 1.5-2 mm, broadly ovate, briefly connate basally, imbricate nearly to apex, erect, acute; staminodes 6, small; pistil 1 x 0.75-1 mm, conic-ovoid, styles short or lacking, stigma lobes short, recurved, not exceeding petals. Fruits: perhaps full size but not soft ripe, 6 x 4 mm, oblong, green drying black. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Materials Examined