Chamaedorea ernesti-augusti H.Wendl., Allg. Gartenzeitung 20: 73 (1852)

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MEXICO. Chiapas. Oaxaca. Tabasco. Veracruz. GUATEMALA. Alta Verapaz. Huehuetenango. Izabal. Peten. BELIZE. Cayo. Stann Creek. Toledo. HONDURAS. Atlantida. Comayagua. Cortes. Yoro. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A


  • Linden discovered C. ernesti-augustii in Tabasco, Mexico, and introduced it to Europe in 1847, where Wendland (1852b) described and named it from cultivated plants. It was apparently widely cultivated in Europe in the latter half of the 19th century and first part of this century. Today, it is fairly common in gardens and collections in California, Florida, Hawaii, and Australia and, to some extent, in Europe. Seeds ofthis species, nearly all from Mexico, are handled commercially on a limited scale and distributed throughout the world. Chamaedorea ernesti-augustii is very distinct and not likely to be confused with any other species of the genus with the exception, perhaps, of C. geonomiformis. In fact, McCurrach (1960, p. 43) and Krempin (1990, p. 92) illustrated and Standley and Record (1936) listed C. ernesti-augustii erroneously as C. geonomiformis. C. geonomiformis differs in its shorter and narrower, more shallowly incised leaves with rounded nerves; the few-branched staminate inflorescence; and the staminate flowers with the petals connate apically and the corolla opening by lateral slits. A species closely related to C. ernesti-augustii, C. sartorii, differs mainly in its leaves having several sigmoid pinnae on each side ofthe rachis and a pistillate inflorescence with more (4-7) rachillae and never spicate. Hybrids existing between C. ernesti-augustii and C. sartorii and C. stolonifera are discussed in the chapter on hybrids.
    Chamaedorea ernesti-augustii is a handsome, striking, highly ornamental species that displays a significant amount offoliar variation. The form from Belize and northeastern Guatemala is noted for its exceptionally large leaves. An excellent choice as a tropical accent for containers for indoor use or for outdoors on a covered patio in subtropical and tropical areas, C. ernesti-augustii does equally well in the ground as a foreground subject or is very effectively used as a mass planting. Because it is such a handsome plant, though, it can easily stand alone and still be an effective landscape subject.
    Unfortunately, C. ernesti-augustii and other species of subgenus Eleutheropetalum do not set fruits readily in cultivation without some human assistance. Hand-pollination is necessary since pollen tends to adhere to the anthers and natural insect pollinators are usually absent. Douglas (1988) gave an account of the hand-pollination techniques to ensure an adequate set of fruits on species of subgenus Eleutheropetalum. See the discussion on propagation in the chapter on culture for further information. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Biology And Ecology

  • Dense, wet forest on the Atlantic slope; mostly at low altitudes but to 1,000 m elevation; often on limestone. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A


  • Honors Ernest August, ruler of Hannover from 1837-1851 (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

Common Name

  • Guaya de abajo, guayita, cola de pescado, rabo de bobo, nesheshiptmil - Mexico. (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A


    • Habit: solitary, slender, erect, to 2 m tall or more, sometimes flowering when nearly stemless. Stem: 1-1.5 cm diam., green, smooth, slightly prominent nodes, internodes 0.5-3 cm long. Leaves: 5-8, spreading, bifid; sheath 5-15 cm long, obliquely open above middle, cylindric basally, longitudinally striate-nerved; petiole 10-25 cm long, slightly channeled and green above, rounded and pale below; rachis 20-25 cm long, angled and green above, rounded below with a yellowish band extending onto sheath; blade 25-60 x 20-30 cm, broadly cuneate-obovate, deeply incised apically, shortly emarginate at tips, dull dark green above, dull green below, ± thick, margins toothed, 20-30 teeth per side, 12-18 primary nerves on each side of rachis, each terminating in a tooth, 2 secondaries between each pair of primaries, secondilries ending in teeth, primaries pale, dull, scarcely prominent below, prominently keeled above. Inflorescences: interfoliar but sometimes infrafoliar in fruit, solitary. Staminate with peduncle to 30 cm long or more, erect, green where exposed in flower; bracts 4-7, lowest the smallest, uppermost slightly shorter than to exceeding peduncle, tubular, fibrous; rachis 15-20 cm long, straight, green; rachillae 15-25, lower ones the longest, these to 17 cm long, becoming progressively shorter toward apex of rachis, slender, diverging from rachis at a right angle, drooping, simple or rarely I-branched, green in flower. Pistillate erect, spicate, furcate or sometimes with 3-4 rachillae; peduncle to 70 cm long, green in flower, orange in fruit; bracts 5, similar to those of the staminate; if branched, rachis to 3 cm long, pale green in flower, red-orange in fruit; flower bearing portion or rachillae to 30 cm long, thick, erect, longitudinally angled and pale green in flower, rounded, thickened, red-orange or red in fruit. Flowers: Staminate in moderate spirals, 2.5 x 3 mm, depressed- globose, yellow to orange, sunken in shallow depressions 1.5-2 mm long; calyx 1.25 x 2-2.5 mm, deeply lobed, clearcolored, sepals connate in basal'h, membranous, nerveless; petals 2 x 2-2.5 mm, connate briefly basally, free and valvate apically, thick, fleshy, cupped over stamens, nerveless; stamens 1.5-1.75 mm high, filaments shorter than anthers, 0.5-0.75 mm long, clear-colored, anthers 0.5-1 mm long, deeply bifid apically and basally, yellow; pistillode equalling petals, columnar, expanded apically into a truncate 6-angled cap, flared basally, clear-colored. Pistillate in remote spirals, 2.5-3.5 x 2.5-3.5 mm, slightly depressed-globose, orange changing to brick-red, aromatic, sunken in prominent elliptic depressions; calyx 1.5-2 x 2.5-3 mm, deeply lobed, whitish, sepals imbricate in basal'h, acute apically, nerveless; petals 3.5 x 1.5-2 mm, very narrowly imbricate at base in bud though at anthesis appearing valvate throughout, thick, fleshy in upper portion, this usually deciduous as fruit develops, cup-shaped; staminodes prominent; pistil not exceeding petals, depressed-globose, of 3 nearly free carpels lightly connate centrally near base at anthesis, whitish, stigma lobes sessile, recurved, whitish. Fruits: 15 x 8-10 mm, subglobose to ellipsoid, green to bluegreen becoming black at maturity, remains of a single stigma at base, abortive carpels often adherent to perianth in fruit or pale depressions where abortive carpels may have tom away, mesocarp fleshy, thin, mucilaginous, aromatic; seeds 10 x 7 mm, ellipsoid (Hodel, D. 1992. Chamaedorea Palms, The Species and Their Cultivation. The International Palm Society.)A

    Materials Examined

    • BELIZE: Cayo: Hodel 840 (BH); Lundell 6182, 6207 (MICH); Gentle 2396,2397 (MICH). Stann Creek: Gentle 2945, 3511 (MICH); Gentry 7980 (F). Toledo: Boutin 5007,5051,5178,5188 (HNT); Croat 24306 (F); Gentle 4270, 5104 (MEXU). GUATEMALA. Alta Verapaz: Williams 42094, 42103, 42106 (F). Huehuetenango: Steyermark 49279 (F). Izabal: Hodel 879, 1018 (AGUAT, BH). Peten: Bartlett 12630 (MICH); Hodel 848 (BH). HONDURAS. Atlantida: Standley 52690 (GH). Comayagua: Edwards 588, 590 (GH); Yuncker 6135 (F, GH, S, U). Cortes: Molina 3561 (F). Yoro: von Hagen 1035 (F). MEXICO. Chiapas: Breedlove 15695 (MICH), 21007. 30853 (MEXU); Hodel 931 (BH, MEXU); Perino 3097 (F). Oaxaca: Moore 6356 (BH); Williams 9584 (F). Tabasco: Matuda 3443 (F, GH, MEXU, MICH). Veracruz: Hodel 920A, 920B (BH, MEXU); Nee 22784, 29892, 29977, 30005 (F).? (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.