Chamaedorea hooperiana Hodel, Principes 35: 188 (1991)

Primary tabs

no image available


MEXICO. Veracruz. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A


  • C. hooperiana presently exists in only a few collections in southern California. Pauleen Sullivan in Ventura, Lou Hooper in La Habra, Jack Ingwersen in Oceanside, and the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino have mature plants in their gardens. For years these plants were unidentified and their origin uncertain. The common story was that the existing plants originated from one introduction from Central America. However, the Huntington's plant may have originated from a different introduction.
    In December, 1989, during field work in Mexico, we found C. hooperiana in the wild in the Catemaco region of Veracruz, enabling us to provide a known locality for it. Sullivan has plants of both sexes and produces seeds regularly that she has distributed to local palm collectors and hobbyists. I originally thought that this species was C. karwinskyana and plants of C. hooperiana may have been distributed as such. However, I have since examined the type of C. karwinskyana and realize that it can be included with C. pochutlensis.
    Similar florally to C. graminifolia and vegatatively to C. pochutlensis, C. hooperiana can be distinguished in the manner in which It sends forth new shoots from the base ofthe plant. These emerge from the tops of the persistent, nearly woody, basal leaf sheaths. In addition, C. hooperiana has thicker, durable, nearly plasticlike leaves. Rhizomatous stems emerging some distance from the parent plant and soft, thin, narrowly linear pinnae distinguish C. graminifolia. Other distinguishing characters of C. pochutlensis include the staminate flowers with apically spreading petals and broader, softer pinnae. A handsome species of easy culture, C. hooperiana is a vigorous and relatively fast grower. Its eventual size should be considered when placing it in the landscape. With age, it will form rather dense clumps several meters across. Stems toward the perimeter ofthe clump tend to lean outward gracefully, occupying even more space. It is more resistant to infestations of mites than C. costaricana and C. pochutlensis and is much superior as an indoor plant. In fact, it holds great promise for use in interior situations due to its tolerance of low light and low humidity and resistance to pests. Collectors in southern California have made hybrids between C. hooperiana and C. pochutlensis. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Biology And Ecology

  • Dense, wet forest; 1,000-1,500 m elevation. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A


  • Honors Louis Hooper of La Habra, California from whose garden the type originated. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A


  • Habit: Cepitose, new lateral shoots emerging from tops of old dried persistent basal sheaths, forming fairly dense clumps to 3-4 m across, erect, leaning with age, to 4-5 m tall. Stems: 2-2.5 cm diam., green, ringed, often covered with old leaf bases, internodes to 15 cm long. Leaves: 5-7, erect-spreading, pinnate; sheath to 40-50 cm long, tightly clasping, obliquely open apically and there splitting deeply opposite petiole with age, rough-brown-margined, below this whitish and longitudinally striate-nerved, old sheaths persistent, drying brown, hard, durable, ± woody; petiole to 20-35 cm long, lime-green and grooved especially near base above, rounded and pale below; rachis to 0.8-1 m long, sharply angled and lime-green above, rounded below with a green or yellowish band extending onto sheath, attenuate apically; pinnae 20-26 on each side of rachis, lower and middle ones longest, these to 40 x 1.8 cm, becoming progressively shorter.toward apex of rachis, regularly arranged, opposite to subopposite, flat off rachis, elongate-lanceolate, ± straight, only slightly falcate, long-acuminate, slightly contracted basally, ± thick, durable, a prominent pale midrib sharply angled above and 2 much less prominent primary nerves on each side of this, secondaries and tertiaries faint and inconspicuous, midrib prominent below, apical pair of pinnae slightly wider. Inflorescences: infrafoliar, emerging from tops of dried persistent sheaths, erect. Staminate with peduncle to 30 cm long, 1.5 cm wide at base, erect-spreading, where exposed; bracts 5-6, tubular, obliquely open apically and there bifid except largest which is long-acuminate and greatly exceeds peduncle and often conceals 1 or 2 smaller ones, longitudinally striate-nerved, brown in flower; rachis 20 cm long, light green; rachillae 40-45, these to 25 cm long, 1.75-2 mm diam., spreading-drooping, light green. Pistillate with peduncle to 50 cm long, 1.5 cm wide at base, erect, pale or greenish in flower where exposed, reddish orange in fruit; bracts 6, similar to those of staminate inflorescence, brown and persistent in fruit; rachis to 22 cm long, green-yellow in flower, reddish orange in fruit; rachillae 40, lower ones longest, these to 22 cm long, apical ones to 10 cm long, spreading slightly, ± stiff, yellow-green in flower, reddish orange in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in moderately dense spirals, 3-3.5 mm distant, 3-3.5 x 3-4 mm, subglobose, bright yellow, strongly aromatic, slightly sunken in elliptic depressions; calyx 1 x 2 mm, shallowly lobed, membranous, light green, sepals connate nearly to apex, broadly rounded apically; petals 3.5 x 3 mm, valvate, connate apically and basally and adnate apically to pistillode and corolla opening by lateral slits, perhaps petals later apically spreading slightly but remaining inwardly curved, broadly acute, margins ± thickened; stamens 2.5 mm tall, filaments 1-1.5 mm long, very pale green, nearly clear-colored, anthers I mm long, yellow changing to white; pistillode 2.75 mm tall, columnar, light green, darkened and narrowed apically. Pistillate in rather remote spirals, 8 mm distant, 3 x 3 mm, globose, greenish yellow, slightly sunken in elliptic depressions; calyx 1-1.5 x 3 mm, prominently lobed, very light green or nearly yellow, sepals connate and or lightly imbricate briefly basally, broadly rounded apically; petals 2.5-2.75 x 3 mm, tightly imbricate nearly to apex, acute; pistil 3 x 3 mm, globose, light green, stigma lobes sessile, distinct but low, rounded. Fruits: 7-8 mm diam., oblong-globose, black (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Materials Examined

  • MEXICO. Veracruz: Dressler 91 (GH); Hodel 922 (BH, MEXU). (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A


    A. Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.