Chamaedorea liebmannii Mart., Hist. Nat. Palm. 3: 308 (1849)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Guatemalapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mexico Centralpresent (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. Chiapas. Oaxaca. Pueblao Veracruz. GUATEMALA. Huehuetenango. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A


  • Martius named and described C. liebmannii from material that Liebmann had collected near Teotalcingo and Petlapa in Oaxaca, Mexico. Liebmann (1846) suggested a name for this species (elatior) but did not publish it formally. When Martius (1849) formally named the species, the prior use ofthe epithet elatior in Chamaedorea precluded its use, and Martius gave it a new name in honor of Liebmann.
    Although not presently cultivated, C. liebmannii was grown in Europe by about 1850 from material that Galeotti had introduced from Oaxaca. Wendland (1853b) named and described C. lepidota from Galeotti's material. Guillaumin (1923b) reported that C. lepidota was cultivated at the Musee de Paris in France since about 1850 and Belgian horticulturists knew it as C. velutina.
    Chamaedorea liebmannii occurs at relatively high elevations, usually in oak and/or pine forest. In Mexico, it grows with C. woodsoniana near the summits of Volcan San Martin and Volcan Santa Martha in Veracruz. In Oaxaca, we found it with C. woodsoniana, C. queroana, and C. rigida, while in Chiapas, we observed it with C. nubium and C. rojasiana. In Huehuetenango in adjacent Guatemala, we found it with C. carchensis, C. quezalteca, C. simplex, and C. verapazensis
    Dried herbarium material consisting of only leaves and fruits is similar to and may be difficult to distinguish from forms of C. elegans with narrow pinnae. This similarity to C. elegans prompted Liebmann and Oersted to place C. liebmannii in Collinia with C. elegans. However, the smaller habit, connate pistillate petals, and recurved stigma lobes distinguish C. elegans. Of course, if staminate flowers are available, the two species are relatively easy to distinguish. Staminate petals of C. elegans are connate nearly to the apex and the corolla opens by a terminal pore. Also, the ranges of the two species do not greatly overlap. C. elegans is most common below 1,200 m elevation while C. liebmannii occurs above 1,200 m. Plants of both species have pinnate leaves at a very early age. C. elegans has pinnate eophylls while the leaves of C. liebmannii become pinnate as early as the third seedling leaf.
    In their descriptions of C. aequalis, Standley and Steyermark (1947, 1958) included material from Solola and Quetzaltenango on the Pacific slope ofGuatemala with substantially larger dimensions than the type from the Atlantic slope of Huehuetenango. The extraneous material from the Pacific slope has a nerveless fruiting perianth and is best referred to C. whitelockiana or is an unnamed species. Although C. aequalis is included as a synonym of C. liebmannii, only the range of dimensions of the type is included in the description here. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Biology And Ecology


  • Habit: solitary, slender, erect, infrequently decumbent, to 4 m tall, sometimes flowering when stemless. Stem: 2 cm diam., nodes only slightly thickened, internodes to 10 cm long but usually shorter. Leaves: 4-9, pinnate, erect-spreading, sometimes covered with minute whitish lepidia; sheath 10-13 cm long, tubular, striate-nerved, subauriculate apically; petiole 12-27 cm long, ± triangular, slightly channeled and green above, rounded and pale below; rachis 30-45 cm long, sharply angled and green above, rounded and green below with a yellow band extending onto sheath; pinnae 13-18 on each side of rachis, 16-30 x 1.5-3 cm, linear to narrowly lanceolate, long-acuminate, constricted and plicate basally, alternate or slightly subalternate, gleaming-velutinous, lower somewhat reflexed and upper often confluent, a prominent midrib and 2-4 primary nerves on each side of this, secondaries numerous, slightly visible. Inflorescences: inter- or infrafoliar, spreading; peduncles 20-45 cm long; bracts 5-7, upper one to 25 cm long, fibrous, thin; rachises 2-9 cm long. Staminate with up to 26 rachillae, these to 25 cm long, ± pendulous toward apex, lower ones forked or branched, green in flower. Pistillate with 18-24 rachillae, these to 20 cm long, angled or ribbed, erect-spreading, lower ones sometimes branched, green in flower, red-orange in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in ± dense spirals, 3 x 2.5 mm, ± globose, yellow, in superficial elliptic depressions 1.5 mm long; calyx 1 x 1.5 mm, shallowly lobed, pale green, membranous, nerveless, sepals connate in basal 3/4, rounded or straight apically; petals 2.5-3.5 x 1.5-2.5 mm, valvate, connate apically and basally and adnate apically to pistillode and corolla opening by lateral slits, obovate, thin, slightly fleshy, angled apically, nerved on inside; stamens 2.5 mm high, filaments 1.5-2 mm long, orange, slightly connate basally, anthers 1.5 mm long, narrowly oblong, dorsifixed, yellow; pistillode 2.5 mm high, columnar, attenuate, rounded apically. Pistillate in spirals, 3 x 1.5 mm, ovoid, yellow, in superficial elliptic depressions 1.5 mm long; calyx 1.25 x 1.5 mm, deeply lobed, green, slightly membranous, strongly nerved on inside, sepals connate in basal 'Il, acute and brown-margined apically; petals 3 x 1.25 mm, connate briefly basally, imbricate apically nearly to top, long-ovate, erect and ± recurved, margins angled, thin, strongly nerved; staminodes lacking or rarely 3 or 6; pistil 1.75 x 1 mm, subglobose, green, attenuate slightly apically, stigma lobes sessile, greenish, slightly separated, erect, rounded. Fruits: to 10 mm diam., globose, black, epicarp slightly transparent, mesocarp thin, green, mucilaginous, endocarp slightly membranous, nerved; seeds 6.5 mm diam. globose; fruiting perianth nerved. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Materials Examined