Chamaedorea glaucifolia

frosty palm


Chamaedorea glaucifolia

H.Wendl. 1854

pronounced: kam-ee-DOR-ee-uh glau-kee-FOH-lee-uh

(Arecaceae — the palm family)


common name: frosty palm

Chamaedorea from the Latin chamæ-, ground, and dos, a gift – a gift near the ground; glaucifolia is from the Greek γλαυκος (glaukos), bright, sparkling, gleaming; greyish, bluish-green (for plants, a white bloom on a leaf giving a grey-green appearance), and the Latin folium, a leaf.

This is a medium-sized, slender, solitary palm from Mexico, up to 5 m tall, though usually only up to about 3 m in cultivation. It has finely pinnate leaves with a bluish tinge. The petioles get a white chalky substance on them that can be wiped off with the finger – hence the ‘glauci-’. The leaflets are borne in several planes, giving it a feathery appearance. The leaves can be up to 2 m long. The trunk is slender, and bamboo-like, with prominent rings. The plants are dioecious, so both a male and a female plant are needed to make viable seed. As they are quite tall in relation to their slender trunks, they look better when planted in clumps, and they will seed better if the male and female plants are in close proximity. The seeds are black on an orange bract.

The members of the Chamaedorea genus are often known as ‘Parlour Palms’, and most can be grown indoors or on patios. There are some 107 species in the genus, all native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. They are small palms, ranging from 30 cm to 6 m in height, all with slender, cane-like stems, and grow in the understorey of the rainforest. They often spread by means of underground runners, forming clonal colonies. The leaves are pinnate (rarely entire), with from one to numerous leaflets. Their flowers are produced in inflorescences, and they are all dioecious. The fruit is an orange or red drupe from 0.5 – 2 cm in diameter. Probably the best-known species is Chamaedorea elegans, the Neanthe Bella Palm or Parlour Palm from Mexico and Guatemala, popular as a house plant, particularly in the Victorian era houses. Another well-known species is Chamaedorea seifrizzi, the Bamboo Palm or Reed Palm. Although these palms are from a hot country, remember that they are understorey rainforest plants, are not very happy in full sun, and much prefer filtered light.


Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2009
Page last updated 5th November 2018