Chamaedorea geonomiformis H.Wendl., Allg. Gartenzeitung 20: 1 (1852)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Belizepresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Costa Ricapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Guatemalapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Honduraspresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mexico Gulfpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mexico Southeastpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mexico Southwestpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
MEXICO (without locality). GUATEMALA. Alta Verapaz. Izabal. Peten. BELIZE. Toledo. HONDURAS. Atlantida. COLOMBIA? (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A


  • Warscewicz discovered C. geonomiformis in Guatemala and sent seeds of it to various gardens in Europe. By 1848, it was growing at Herninhausen, in Van Houtte's garden at Hale and Allardt in Berlin, and at the Berlin Botanical Garden. Wendland (1852a) named it from his material cultivated at Herrenhausen. A popular plant in European stovehouses of the time, gardeners and collectors referred to it as the necklace palm because the long, pendulous, densely flowered rachillae bore a resemblance to a string of pearls. Oersted (1859) felt that C. geonomiformis was sufficiently distinct and erected a subgenus, Psilostachys, for the species. In 1896 C. geonomiformis was reported at the Musee de Paris in France and Franceshi offered it as early as 1900 in California (Guillaumin 1923b).
    Chamaedorea geonomiformis is very close to C. tenella and the latter species is perhaps not distinct. The more distinctly toothed margin of the leaves, smaller habit, spicate inflorescences, and more shallowly incised apex of the blade are used to distinguish C. tenella. There is a great deal of variation with the first two characters, although C. tenella generally seems to be a consistently smaller plant. However, as plants of C. geonomiformis become older and taller their leaves tend to become smaller. I have observed small-leaved forms of C. geonomiformis in cultivation that were referred to C. tenella yet had branched staminate inflorescences. The inflorescences are also variable but those of C. geonomiformis are usually branched but sometimes spicate while those of C. tenella are always spicate. I have observed plants of C. geonomiformis with spicate inflorescences though these almost always occur when the plant is flowering for one of the first times. Later inflorescences are branched with the number of rachillae generally increasing with each subsequent inflorescence until about 4-6 branches have been attained. ?The degree of the incision at the apex of the blade is perhaps the best character. Wendland stated that C. geonomiformis had blades incised 1/3-1/2 their length while those of C. tenella were more shallowly incised, only about 1/5-1/4 their length. Moore (1966) suggested that C. tenella may simply be a high altitude form of C. geonomiformis yet we have collected material on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica at about 100 meters elevation that has smaller leaves and spicate inflorescences that matches up well with those described for C. tenella. Also, we collected material at nearly 1,000 meters elevation in Guatemala that corresponds to C. geonomiformis. In Mexico we collected material that matches up with C. tenella in Veracruz and Chiapas at about 800 meters elevation.
    In summary, although the two are close, the larger habit, larger blades more deeply incised at the apex, and inflorescences usually branched distinguish C. geonomiformis. Chamaedorea geonomiformis has been confused with C. ernesti-augustii in a few floristic accounts (Standley and Record 1936, perhaps Standley 1931). McCurrach (1960, p. 43) and Krempin (1990, p. 92) illustrated C. ernesti-augustii but erroneously captioned the photographs as C. geonomiformis. C. geonomiformis has been reported from Colombia only recently (Galeano and Bernal 1987) although I have not seen the specimens. One specimen at the Gray Herbarium documents C. geonomiformis from Mexico but without a specific locality.
    Chamaedorea geonomiformis is rather common in gardens and collections in California and Florida. One of the most recent introductions came from material collected by the Huntington Botanical Gardens in Belize in 1977. Plants grown from these seeds have matured, set seeds, and produced second generation plants in California. C. geonomiformis is a choice and handsome plant for shady gardens in tropical and subtropical regions. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Biology And Ecology

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    • Habit: solitary, erect or occasionally decumbent, to 1.5 m tall, often flowering when stemless. Stem: 0.5-1 cm diam., green, smooth, ringed, internodes 1-3 cm long, adventitious roots conspicuous at base. Leaves: 5-10, erect-spreading, bifid, rich green above, green below; sheath 8-10 cm long, tubular, green, obliquely open above middle, longitudinally striate-nerved; petiole 2-15 cm long, flat and green above, rounded and pale below; rachis 11-22 cm long, angled and yellow-green above, rounded and yellowish below; blade 15-30 x 15 cm, incised apically 1/3-1/2 its length and there 10 cm wide, oblanceolate or oblong-elliptic, lobes acute, only shallowly and obscurely toothed toward apex, 9-12 nerves on each side of rachis, these obscure above, pale yellowish and prominent below, not keeled above, 2 secondaries between each pair of primaries, tertiaries numerous, faint. . Inflorescences: interfoliar but often infrafoliar in fruit, solitary, erect-spreading; peduncles 10-20 cm long, slender, 2-5 mm wide at base, 2-3 mm wide at apex, erect, green in flower where exposed, red-orange in fruit; bracts 5, tubular, closely sheathing, papery', drying brown by anthesis, longitudinally striate-nerved, uppermost shorter than to exceeding peduncle; rachises 2 cm long, green in flower, red-orange in fruit. Staminate with 3-6 rachillae, rarely spicate or with 2 rachillae and then usually only when flowering for one of first times, to 20 cm long, pendulous, slender, pale yellow. Pistillate with 2-3 rachillae, rarely spicate and then usually only when flowering for one of first times, 5-15 cm long, erect-spreading, light or yellowish green in flower becoming thickened and orange-red in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in rather dense spirals, 4 x 3.5-4 mm, globose-ovoid, yellowish, slightly sunken in elliptic depressions 3 mm long; calyx 0.5 x 3 mm, ringlike, shallowly lobed, not nerved when dry, yellow, membranous, sepals connate nearly to apex, broadly rounded apically; petals 3-4 x 4 mm, valvate, connate apically and basally and adnate apically to pistillode and corolla opening by lateral slits, membranous, nerveless or only faintly nerved; stamens 2-2.5 mm long, filaments equalling anthers, anthers 1.5 mm long, entire apically, briefly separated basally; pistillode 3 mm high, columnar, slightly narrowed apically. Pistillate in moderate spirals, 1-2 x .2.5 mm, dome-shaped, yellow, slightly sunken in rounded depressions; calyx 0.75 x 2.5 mm, shallowly lobed, membranous, yellow, sepals imbricate and/ or connate in basal 3/4 broadly rounded apically, strongly nerved when dry; petals 2 x 3 mm, imbricate nearly to apex, acute, faintly nerved when fresh, strongly nerved when dry; staminodes not seen; pistil 2.5 x 2-2.5 mm, dome-shaped, yellow, styles short or lacking, stigma lobes slightly pointed, low, clear-colored. Fruits: 8-12 mm diam., globose, blue-black, falling with perianth attached; seeds 6-9 mm diam.; abortive carpels adherent to fruit. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

    Materials Examined