Chamaedorea selvae Hodel, Principes 35: 79 (1991)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Costa Ricapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Nicaraguapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
RICA. Alajuela. Heredia. Limon. San Jose. NICARAGUA. Rio San Juan. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A


  • Leaves of C. selvae are very similar to those of C. tepejilote, especially in the nervation ofpinnae. However, the short peduncles, contiguous staminate flowers, and prominent yellow stripe on the abaxial surface of the rachis and petiole distinguish this latter species. C. deneversiana is also somewhat similar vegetatively but differs in the flexuous rachises of the inflorescences, and fewer and shorter rachillae.
    Perhaps C. woodsoniana and C. carchensis, all from higher altitudes, are most closely related to C. selvae. However, these two species are amply distinct in their narrower and more numerous pinnae (20 or more on each side of the rachis versus 3-8 for C. selvae). In addition, C. woodsoniana and C. carchensis have many more staminate rachillae (80-100 and 40 respectively versus 17 for C. selvae).?The only species ofsubgenus Chamaedoropsis that occurs in the same range as C. selvae is the highly variable C. dammeriana. However, the interfoliar inflorescences, few-branched staminate inflorescences, usually spicate or furcate pistillate inflorescences, and much smaller habit (about half the size of C. selvae) distinguish this latter species. Chamaedorea selvae is rare over its range and should probably be considered endangered due to destruction of lowland forest in Limon, Heredia, and Alajuela provinces of Costa Rica and adjacent portions of Nicaragua. In fact, several of the collections are from forest remnants, indicating that suitable habitat for its growth is noncontiguous and isolated. C. selvae does exist in protected areas; it is well documented at La Selva as Chamaedorea sp. nov. fide Moore (Chazdon 1985, 1987, Moore and Chazdon 1985).? (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Biology And Ecology



  • Habit: solitary (rarely cespitose? Stevens 24461), erect, to 2 m tall. Stem: 2 cm diam., smooth, green ringed, internodes to 10 cm long. Leaves: 4-5, spreading, pinnate; sheath green with no pale stripe extending onto rachis below; petiole to 35 cm long, robust; rachis to 66 cm long; pinnae 3-8 on each side of rachis, to 45 x 9 cm, broadly lanceolate, sigmoid, falcate, acuminate, thin-papery, 6-10 primary nerves prominent and elevated above, I secondary between each of 2 primaries, tertiaries numerous, faint, primaries paler below, end pair of pinnae sometimes very large, then each lobe to 50 x 30 cm on a rachis 40 cm long with 30 primary nerves on each side, outer margin remotely toothed toward apex. Inflorescences: infrafoliar, attached well below the leaves; peduncles to 75 em long, 7-8 mm diam., erect, ± robust; bracts 5-6, prophyll to 3 cm long, 2nd bract to 10 em, 3rd to 25 cm, 4th to 40 cm, 5th to 35 cm, 6th to 30 cm, tubular, acuminate, fibrous, longitudinally striate-nerved. Staminate with rachis to 10 cm long, straight; up to 17 rachillae, these to 30 cm long, slender, pendulous. Pistillate with rachis to 7 cm long, ± straight; up to 11 rachillae, these to 20 em long, drooping in flower, pendulous and orange in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in bud arranged in moderately dense spirals but not contiguous, 0.5-1 mm apart, 1 x 1.25-1.5 mm, ± dome-shaped, in superficial and elliptic depressions 1.25 mm long; calyx 0.5 x 1.5 mm, deeply lobed, thick, sepals connate and/or imbricate in basal 1/4, rounded apically; petals I x 1.5 mm, valvate, spreading, acute; stamens 0.75 mm high, tightly appressed around pistillode; pistillode 0.75 mm high, columnar, apically lobed. Pistillate in moderately dense spirals 1-2 mm apart, 2 x 2 mm, ± globose, leaving shallow elliptic scars 1.5 mm long; sepals of fruiting perianth 0.75 x 1.75 mm, imbricate basally, broadly rounded apically; petals of fruiting perianth 1.75 x 2.5 mm, imbricate basally, acute, petals and sepals lightly nerved on the inside; pistil 1.25 mm high, ovoid, styles short, stigma lobes pointed, erect, darkened. Fruits: 7 x 5 mm, oblong, green when immature, maturing black. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Materials Examined