Chamaedorea microspadix Burret, Notizbl. Bot. Gart. Berlin-Dahlem 11: 734 (1933)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Mexico Gulfpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mexico Northeastpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B


  • Pringle discovered C. microspadix in 1891 in Tamasopo Canyon, San Luis Potosi, Mexico and Burret (1933a) described and named it. It is one ofthe most handsome members of the genus due to its clustering habit, velvety dark green leaves, and showy clusters of bright orange-red fruits. Chamaedorea microspadix is rather widely cultivated and appears in gardens and collections in California, Florida, Hawaii, Australia, Venezuela, Europe, and elsewhere. Seeds are handled commercially to a somewhat limited extent and plants are occasionally encountered in nurseries. Several forms are cultivated and these vary in shape, color, and size of pinnae and the glaucouswhite covering on the underside. Some forms have pinnae that are entirely green on the underside while others have pinnae that are distinctly powdery-white below.
    Chamaedorea microspadix is durable, hardy, and of relatively easy culture. There appears to be some variation in tolerance oflight among various forms. Some are more tolerant of higher light than others and can be grown in nearly full-sun, resulting in only slight yellowing of the leaves. Some forms appear to be more susceptible to browning and yellowing of the tips of the pinnae. Several horticultural-varietal names have been given to forms in cultivation. Among them are C. microspadix 'Improved,' said to be less susceptible to brown- and yellow-tipping, and C. microspadix 'Brentwood Select,' said to be darker green and more tolerant of higher light as well as less susceptible to brown-tipping. The late David Barry, Jr. made the latter selection and offered it at his nursery.
    Surpassed by only C. radicalis for cold hardiness, C. microspadix will tolerate -2° to -4°C (25-28°F) with no appreciable leaf damage. Temperatures of - 5° to -7°C (19-23°F) may damage leaves only, with plants surviving at even lower temperatures. Substantially lower temperatures have killed stems but plants survived and resprouted from the base with warmer weather. The species is also fairly resistant to nematodes.
    Krempin (1990, p. 90) discussed and illustrated C. costaricana but the description and photograph seem to depict C. microspadix. Krempin (p. 91) illustrated C. microspadix but erroneously captioned the photograph as C. erumpens. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Biology And Ecology



  • Habit: cespitose, erect to leaning, to 3 m tall, forming dense clumps several meters wide. Stems: I cm diam., green, ringed, internodes 5-15 cm long. Leaves: pinnate, spreading; sheath 20-30 cm long, tubular, oblique apically and there light green or whitish, green below but browning and persistent on stem with age, densely and longitudinally striate-nerved; petiole 15-25 cm long, strong, flat or only slightly grooved and green above, rounded, slightly paler green below especially near base; rachis 50 cm long, obscurely angled and green above, rounded and green below; blade oblong; pinnae 9 on each side of rachis or fewer when terminal pair is broader, to 25 x 4-5 cm, regularly arranged, alternate, lanceolate, sigmoid or falcate, velvety green above and glaucous or green below; upper pair often confluent and 2-3 times broader than others, 3 primary nerves, several secondaries and tertiaries visible above and below. Inflorescences: infrafoliar, sometimes breaking through the old persistent sheaths, to25 cm long; peduncles 10 cm long, 8 mm wide at base, 5 mm wide at apex, slender, ± flattened, green or pale where exposed in flower, green or orange where exposed in fruit; bracts 4-5, prophyll 3 em long, 2nd bract 5 cm, 3rd 8 cm, 4th 7 cm, uppermost exceeding peduncle and sometimes concealing a small rudimentary bract, short-acuminate, slightly flared and bifid apically, closely or ± loosely sheathing, flattened, green becoming brown at anthesis, papery, longitudinally striate-nerved; rachises 2-3 cm long, green in flower, orange in fruit; rachillae 3-6 or slightly more, to 15 cm long, 3 mm diam., green, spreading in flower, orange and drooping in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in clusters of 2-4 or more, 5 x 3-4 mm, obovoid-oblong, creamy-white; calyx 1.5 x 2.5-3 mm, deeply lobed, green, sepals connate in basal 1/4-1/2, acute or broadly rounded apically; petals 5 x 2-3 mm, slightly concave, connate briefly basally, valvate, spreading apically, acute, ± thick and fleshy; stamens 2/3 as high as petals, filaments prominent, whitish, anthers shallowly 2-cleft apically and basally; pistillode exceeding stamens but not petals, broadly columnar, whitish. Pistillate in moderate spirals, solitary, 5 x 3 mm, ovoid, white; calyx 1.5-2 x 3 mm, deeply lobed, green, relatively thick, sepals connate in basal 1/2-1/3, rounded apically; petals 4 x 3 mm, suborbicular, 4 x 3 mm, imbricate in basal 1/2-1/3, acute-acuminate, apically erect or flared outwardly; pistil slightly exceeding corolla, 5 x 3 mm, pear-shaped, light green, styles short or lacking, stigma lobes recurved, acute, dark. Fruits: to I cm diam., ± globose, orange-red or red, fruiting perianth nerveless. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Materials Examined