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Chamaedorea seifrizii Burret 1938
pronounced: kam-ee-DOR-ee-uh see-FRID-zee-eye
(Arecaceae – the palm family)
common name: Blue Bamboo Palm
Chamaedorea comes from two Latin words, chamæ-, ground - borrowed from the Greek χαμαι (chamai) - anddos, a gift: a gift near the ground ; seifrizii is named for William Siefriz, 20th century American botanist and author.
This little rainforest palm is native to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. The stems are clustering, to 3 m tall and 1–2 cm in diameter, with conspicuous leaf scars, growing in dense clumps. The leaves are pinnate, reduplicate, to 60 cm long, variably shaped (more-or-less linear) to lanceolate or sigmoid leaflets evenly spaced along the rachis and spreading in a single plane. The upper and lower leaflet surfaces are glossy green, without spines or obvious tomentum; the midrib and secondary veins are prominent.
Yellow male and female flowers are borne on different plants. The inflorescences with staminate flowers grow to 15 cm long, branched to one order, with up to 12 branches. Inflorescences with pistillate flowers grow to 10 cm long, branched to one order, with up to 6 branches, turning orange when the fruit ripens. The spherical fruits are 6 – 8 mm in diameter, and black when ripe. They are extremely toxic.
This plant is very similar to Chamaedorea microspadix, except in the colour of the fruit. The leaves of Chamaedorea microspadix are larger, and rather papery-textured. The stems of Chamaedorea seifrizii are also more densely clumped.
Chamaedorea seifrizii is an ideal palm in a garden when an upright effect is needed in a corner or against a wall behind lower plants. It also does well in a container indoors, being slow-growing and long-lasting. Being an understorey plant, it does not need full sun: it needs some shade when being established, but the adult plant will survive in sun. When indoors, it does not need a great amount of light to do well – it needs more heat than light. It is also an excellent plant for removing formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide from the surrounding air.
The plant may be grown from seed, and can be transplanted after the first set of leaves develop. The palm also spreads naturally by offshoots, similar to bamboo. These may be removed and planted elsewhere, giving a faster method of propagation than from seed: seeds can take months to germinate.
Photographs taken in Nelly Bay 2011
Page last updated 20th October 2016