Chamaedorea undulatifolia Hodel & N.W.Uhl, Principes 34: 116 (1990)

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


  • C. undulatifolia is related to C. brachyclada, C. pygmaea, C. scheryi, and C. stenocarpa. These form a natural subgroup within subgenus Chamaedoropsis (Hodel and Uhl 1990b) that is characterized by a stemless habit, long-pedunculate inflorescences, decurrent pinnae, and pinnate eophylls. C. undulatifolia is closest to C. scheryi but the non-undulate margins ofthe pinnae and straight pistillate rachillae distinguish the latter species. Chazdon (1987) referred to C. undulatifolia as Chamaedorea sp. "elegantissima." Because of its stemless habit and decurrent pinnae with strikingly undulate margins, C. undulatifolia bears a remarkable resemblance, especially when young, to certain ferns in the genus Polypodium. Although the undulating margins ofthe pinnae are quite striking and occur even on material cultivated in Costa Rica and California, they are not readily apparent on dried herbarium material.
    Chamaedorea undulatifolia, like other closely related species, is difficult to grow well and is subject to the usual yellowing and brown-tipping of pinnae. It is grown in a few collections in California and Florida. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Biology And Ecology



  • Habit: solitary, erect to briefly decumbent, appearing stemless, overall height including leaves 1-1.5 m. Stem: short, 1-1.5 cm diam., creeping at or slightly below leaf litter, densely ringed, nodes prominent and swollen, internodes very short, to 5 mm long. Leaves: 3-5, erect-spreading, pinnate; sheath to 10 cm long, splitting deeply opposite petiole, tubular only near base, green, brown-margined apically; petiole to 60 cm long, flat or very slightly channeled and green above, rounded and green below; rachis 50-75 cm long, slightly angled and green above, rounded and green below; pinnae 12-18 on each side of rachis, lower and central pinnae largest, these to 12.5-19 x 1.6-2.7 em, becoming progressively smaller toward apex of rachis, lanceolate, slightly sigmoid, acuminate, alternate or subopposite, margins undulate, bright forest green, thin, lower margin decurrent along rachis, prominent midrib and 1-2 primary nerves on each side of this, these yellowish when dry, midrib with warty-roughened surface at base below. Inflorescences: interfoliar, sometimes infrafoliar in fruit, frequently appearing to arise from ground, erect; Staminate to 70 cm long but often smaller; peduncle to 47 cm long, greenish in flower; bracts 6, these tubular, acute-acuminate, bifid, longitudinally striate-nerved, ± papery, green but browning in flower; rachis 24 cm long, greenish in flower; rachillae 30, lower ones longest, these to 15 cm long, those above middle shorter, to 5-11 cm long, spreading, simple or occasionally forked, green. Pistillate to 55 cm long but often smaller; peduncle to 44 cm long, greenish in flower, orange in fruit; bracts 8, these similar to those of staminate; rachis very short, 0.25-2.5 cm long, green in flower, orange in fruit; rachillae 2-6, these 2.5-11 cm long, strongly recurved, hooklike and orange in fruit. Flowers: Staminate green, 1.5-2 mm high; calyx 0.5 mm high, shallowly lobed, membranous, flaring and drying light brown with darker margins; petals 1.5 mm long, valvate, free, ovoid, ± acute, drying dark; stamens with anthers sessile, not deeply bifid apically; pistillode slightly shorter than anthers, 3-angled and ± angled-enlarged apically. Pistillate with calyx flaring, shallowly lobed, similar to that of staminate; corolla 2 mm high, petals valvate but separating and recurving only at tip at anthesis and corolla ± urceolate; pistil green. Fruits: 8 x 6 mm, ellipsoid-globose, black; perianth persistent but not prominently nerved when dry; eophyll pinnate. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Materials Examined