Chamaedorea Willd., Sp. Pl. 4: 638 (1806)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Belizepresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Boliviapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Brazil Northpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Brazil West-Centralpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Colombiapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Costa Ricapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Ecuadorpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
El Salvadorpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Floridapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Guatemalapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Hawaiipresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Honduraspresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mexico Centralpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mexico Gulfpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mexico Northeastpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mexico Northwestpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mexico Southeastpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mexico Southwestpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Nicaraguapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Panamápresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Venezuelapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B


  • Hodel (1992) published a detailed and beautifully illustrated account of the genus. In it, he recognises 96 species arranged in eight subgenera. Since then, several more taxa have been published making a grand total of 108. The subgenera are defined by characters of the arrangement of the flowers and their form. Henderson et al. (1995) chose to recognise 77 species, reducing some of Hodel’s taxa to synonymy but without discussion.
    There is great diversity in leaf, inflorescence, and flower form in the genus, which is divided into sections on the basis of floral structure. Because there are so many species, and considerable variation in leaf form within some species, identification of species is often difficult.
    Cook (1937a, 1939b, 1943a, 1943b, 1947a, 1947b) and Cook and Doyle (1939) published the following generic names for species of Chamaedorea in the National Horticultural Magazine and in Science; as the names appear without Latin description and postdate 1935, they are invalid and without any botanical standing: Anothea, Cladandra, Discoma, Docanthe, Edanthe, Ercheila, Legnea, Lobia, Lophothele, Mauranthe, Meiota, Migandra, Neanthe, Omanthe, Paranthe, Platythea, and Vadia. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A


Biology And Ecology

Common Name




  • Small, sometimes moderate, erect or procumbent, rarely climbing, acaulescent or trunked, solitary or clustered, unarmed, pleonanthic, dioecious palms. Stem usually slender, covered wholly or partially in fibrous leaf bases or smooth, green, prominently ringed with leaf scars. Leaves bifid or variously pinnate, very rarely entire, reduplicate; sheath closed or becoming split, short or elongate, sometimes with a marcescent lobe opposite the petiole; petiole short to elongate, flattened adaxially, rounded abaxially, sometimes with a prominent pale green or yellow, abaxial stripe; rachis rounded, angled, or flattened adaxially, rounded abaxially; blade entire, bifid and pinnately ribbed, or regularly or irregularly pinnately divided, leaflets few or many, of 1 or several folds, narrow or broad, often oblique or sigmoid, acuminate, surfaces glabrous. Inflorescences among or below the leaves, solitary or several per leaf axil, unbranched or branched to 1(–2) order, sometimes forked; staminate often more branched than pistillate; peduncle short to elongate; prophyll tubular with tapering bifid tip; peduncular bracts 2-several, elongate, tubular, sheathing the peduncle, coriaceous or membranous, persistent, tips short, bifid; rachillae, long or short, slender or fleshy, sometimes ridged, lacking bracts at maturity, bearing closely appressed or rather widely spaced, spirally arranged staminate or pistillate flowers, rarely bearing curved acervuli of staminate flowers. Flowers sessile or partly enclosed in a cavity in the fleshy rachilla, small or minute. Staminate flowers symmetrical; sepals 3, entire, united basally or distinct; petals 3, distinct or variously connate, lobes valvate; stamens 6, filaments short, broad or awl-shaped; anthers dorsifixed, included, oblong or didymous; pistillode various, cylindric or expanded basally, sometimes trilobed. Pollen ellipsoidal, occasionally oblate triangular, bi-symmetric or slightly asymmetric; aperture a distal sulcus, occasionally a trichotomosulcus; ectexine tectate, finely rugulate, finely perforate-rugulate, finely reticulate, or reticulate, aperture margin either similar or, more frequently, broad and psilate or scabrate, in reticulate pollen, reticulum often notably finer on proximal face, less frequently proximal face psilate; infratectum columellate; longest axis 20–36 µm; post-meiotic tetrads usually tetrahedral, sometimes tetragonal or rarely rhomboidal [50/108]. Pistillate flower with sepals 3, as in the staminate; petals 3, usually connate, distinct lobes valvate or imbricate; staminodes present and tooth-like or absent, gynoecium ovoid, tricarpellate, syncarpous, trilocular, trilovulate, stigmas small, recurved, ovule campylotropous, laterally inserted. Fruit small, globose or oblong, stigmatic remains basal; epicarp smooth, mesocarp fleshy, endocarp thin. Seed erect, globose, or ellipsoidal, hilum small, basal, branches of raphe obscure, endosperm cartilaginous; embryo basal to subapical. Germination adjacent-ligular; eophyll bifid or pinnate. Cytology: 2n = 26, 32. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A


Fossil record


Use Record

  • Chamaedorea Willd.: Dyes for textiles ( Synecanthus warscewiczianus, Chamaedorea sp. Geonoma sp.). (Balslev, H., and A. Barfod, Ecuadorean palms- an overview. 1987)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    CulturalDyesNot specifiedNot identifiedN/AEcuador
  • Chamaedorea Willd.: Existen otras seis espeices que también pueden aliviar la diarrea: (...), Chamaedorea sp., del cual se usa la inflorescencia completa en mate 2 veces por día; (...). (...). Medicinal. (Hinojosa, I., Plantas utilizadas por los Mosetenes de Santa Ana (Alto Beni, Depto. La Paz).. 1991)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    Medicinal and VeterinaryDigestive systemInflorescenceIndigenousMoseteneBolivia
  • Chamaedorea Willd.: La caña de San Pablo, llamada así porque la emplean como antiofídico, (...). (Pérez-Arbeláez, E., Plantas útiles de Colombia. 1956)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    Utensils and ToolsDomesticStemNot identifiedN/AColombia
    EnvironmentalOrnamentalEntire plantNot identifiedN/AColombia
    Medicinal and VeterinaryPoisoningsNot specifiedNot identifiedN/AColombia
    Utensils and ToolsDomesticRootNot identifiedN/AColombia
  • Chamaedorea Willd.: The shoots, called palmitos, and spadices as in similar groups are eaten cooked or in salads and may be excellent. (Macbride, J.F., Flora of Peru Vol. XIII Part 1 Nº 2. 1960)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    Human FoodBeveragesInfructescenceNot identifiedN/APeru
    Human FoodFoodPalm heartNot identifiedN/APeru
  • Chamaedorea Willd.: Varias especies de estos géneros servían antiguamente para fabricar, con su tallo y los muñones de sus raíces, los clásicos molinillos con que se sacaba espuma al chocolate. Además son ornamentales. (Pérez-Arbeláez, E., Plantas útiles de Colombia. 1956)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    Medicinal and VeterinaryPoisoningsNot specifiedNot identifiedN/AColombia
    Utensils and ToolsDomesticStemNot identifiedN/AColombia
    Utensils and ToolsDomesticRootNot identifiedN/AColombia
    EnvironmentalOrnamentalEntire plantNot identifiedN/AColombia