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Chamaedorea microspadix Burret 1933
pronounced: kam-ee-DOR-ee-uh mik-roh-SPAY-dicks
(Arecaceae – the palm family)
common name: Bamboo Palm
Chamaedorea comes from two Latin words, chamæ-, ground - borrowed from the Greek χαμαι (chamai) - and dos, a gift: a gift near the ground; microspadix is from the Greek μικρος (mikros), small, and σπαδιξ (spadix), a torn-off branch, especially from a palm.
There are 107 species of palms in this genus, native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Americas. They are small palms, growing from 30 cm to 6 m tall with slender, cane-like stems, growing in the understorey in rainforests, and often spreading by means of underground runners, forming clonal colonies. The leaves are pinnate (rarely entire), with one to numerous leaflets. The flowers are produced in inflorescences, and these palms are dioecious. The fruits are orange, red or black drupes.
Chamaedorea microspadix is a small tufted palm from Mexico, with bamboo-like stems. The leaf blades are up to 55 cm long, and are velvety to the touch on the upper surface. The leaflets of the terminal pair are fused, and fishtail-like. The fruit is orange-red, and about 1 cm in diameter.
A very similar palm to Chamaedorea microspadix is Chamaedorea seifrizii, also from Mexico; it may be either clumped or scrambling, and is bluish-green in colour. The leaf blades, up to 40 cm long, are decurrent on the petiole. The fruit is rounded to 8 mm long, dull black, and highly toxic. Its pinnae are narrower than those of Chamaedorea microspadix, and shinier, and the fruits are black in colour.
Perhaps the best-known species in this genus is Chamaedorea elegans (Neanthe Bella Palm or Parlour Palm) from Mexico or Guatemala, popular as a houseplant in homes with a Victorian decor. This is probably the most commonly grown indoor palm in the world. It is a small, single-stemmed palm, growing to about 2 m tall, with light green, wide, pinnate leaves. It is usually seen in clumps, since it looks more attractive this way; but this is just due to multiple seeds having been sown together. This palm is very resilient to low light, air-conditioning, drying out, and overwatering (this last the fate of most plants grown indoors). It should be noted, however, that the Parlour Palm probably does not enjoy being treated like this!
Photographs taken in Nelly Bay 2009
Page last updated 20th October 1026