Chamaedorea brachypoda Standl. & Steyerm., Publ. Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Bot. Ser. 23: 198 (1947)

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


  • Standley and Steyermark described and named C. brachypoda from material the latter collected in Izabal. Much of the forest in Izabal is gone now and C. brachypoda is rare there. In 1989 we found a small population surviving in the shade of an Orbignya palm in a pasture. Apparently, the plant did not flower here as cattle periodically ate the stems down to the ground. Although the plants would resprout from rhizomes, cattle were not absent from the area long enough for the plants to grow up again and flower. Fortunately, Carol Graff (pers. comm.) ofMiami, Florida recently discovered C. brachypoda in adjacent, less disturbed areas of Honduras.
    With bifid leaves and densely rhizomatous stems, C. brachypoda is an attractive and popular ornamental. It is found in collections ofmany palm enthusiasts and botanical gardens in Hawaii, California, Florida, Costa Rica, Australia, and perhaps elsewhere. Despite its popularity, it is often confused with C. stolonifera in cultivation and is sometimes grown under that name. However, the stoloniferous habit, thicker stems, thicker textured leaves, and orange, hooded petals easily distinguish C. stolonifera.
    Chamaedorea brachypoda is handsome as a potted specimen and can be maintained this way for many years. It produces a tremendous number of rhizomes and some will often emerge from drainage holes in the bottom ofthe pot. C. brachypoda is easy to propagate by divisions of the stems and/or rhizomes or by seeds. However, since most individuals in cultivation are pistillate, it is unusual to find seeds and plants are normally propagated vegetatively.
    Chamaedorea brachypoda looks its best in a tropical climate. It is a superb performer in Hawaii, plants there forming dense, bushlike clusters several meters across with rich green leaves devoid of any yellowing or marginal necrosis or burning. On the contrary, plants in California tend to have somewhat yellowish leaves often with marginal necrosis. C. brachypoda is somewhat susceptible to infestations of mites. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Biology And Ecology



  • Habit: cespitose and colonial with long, very slender, underground stems (rhizomes) forming dense clumps 1-2 x 3-4 m. Stems: 5-7 mm thick, pale green, smooth, ringed, internodes 5-8 cm long. Leaves: 5-8, spreading, bifid; sheath 15 cm long, tubular, 8 mm broad, obliquely open apically, drying brown, persistent, longitudinal1y striate-nerved; petiole 5-10 cm long, slightly grooved and green above, rounded and pale below; rachis 10-12 cm long, angled or ridged above, rounded and pale below; blade to 30 x 22 cm, narrowing to 20 cm wide at apex, incised apically to 1/2 its length, cuneate-acute basally, lobes 15-30 x 11 cm, divergent at angle of 90 degrees or more, short-acuminate, thin, pale below, margin toothed, 11-13 primary nerves on each side of rachis, prominent and keeled above, slightly falcate, I secondary nerve between each pair of primaries, tertiaries numerous and faint. Inflorescences: infrafoliar, breaking through persistent leaf sheaths at nodes just below living leaves; peduncles 3-10 cm long, 3-4 mm wide at base and apex, ± stiffand ascending, green in flower, orange in fruit; bracts 6, prophyll and 2nd bract 0.5-0.8 cm long, 3rd 1.5 cm, 4th 2.5 cm, 5th 5 cm, 6th 4 cm and exceeding peduncle, all 4-5 mm broad, tubular, papery, acuminate, bifid, brownish in flower, longitudinally striate-nerved; rachises 1-2 cm long, green in flower, orange in fruit. Staminate with 4-8 rachillae, these 8-15 cm long, 1.5-2 mm diam., green. Pistillate with 4-8 rachillae, these 6 cm long, ± stiff, erect, paral1el or slightly spreading, green in flower, orange in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in fairly dense spirals, 3.5 x 3 mm, obovoid-subglobose, greenish tinged with yellow, slightly sunken; calyx 1.5 x 2 mm, ± shallowly lobed, green, sepals connate in basal 2/3, broadly acute apically; petals 3 x 3 mm, ovate, valvate, connate in basal 2/3, adnate to stamen filaments and pistillode in a short stipe, free but incurved apically at anthesis and later opening more, acute, fleshy; stamens 1-1.5 mm long, appressed around pistillode, filaments very short, anthers 2-cleft apically; pistillode 3 x 2 mm, broadly columnar or ± swollen at middle, yellowish, terminating in a short nipplelike, 3-angled, greenish yellow apex. Pistillate in ± loose spirals, 3 x 2-2.5 mm, ovoid or depressedglobose, greenish yellow, slightly sunken; calyx 1-1.5 x 2.5 mm, deeply lobed, green, brown-margined, sepals connate in basal 1/3-1/2, broadly rounded apically; petals 3 x 2-2.5 mm, ovate, imbricate to 1/2-2/3 to apex, free, erect or slightly recurved, acute apically, slightly thickened and ± fleshy; staminodes toothlike; pistil 2 x 2-2.5 mm, depressed-globose, green, styles short or lacking, stigma lobes short, recurved, thick, pale. Fruits: 5-10 mm long, ellipsoid, black. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Materials Examined