Ceroxylon sasaimae Galeano, Caldasia 17: 404 (1995)

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Known until 2010 only from the eastern Cordillera in Colombia, in a small area completely transformed to agricultural land, corresponding to humid premontane forest zone, at 1400-1800 m. However, in 2011 it was surprinsingly discovered in the wild by Bernal & Manrique (in press), at 144 km northwest from the known locality, in a 2800 hectare forest patch, though it is unclear what percentage of this patch is actually covered by the population of C. sasaimae. The total known population from Sasaima has been estimated in no more than 100 adult individuals, that grow in the middle of coffee and fruit plantations, where regeneration is abundant but is removed during cultivation labors (Galeano & Bernal 2005). Only scattered individuals survive as seedlings and juveniles in the fallow land. Therefore, it is crucial to search this species in other forest remnants that meet its requirements to determine its actual population. (Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011))A


  • Ceroxylon sasaimae is diagnosed by its very dense and almost sphaerical crown of leaves with very short or absent petiole, pinnae irregularly arranged in groups, rigid through their length and inserted at slightly divergent angles, male flowers with 9-12 stamens, and smooth fruits. (Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011))A


  • Because of its restricted distribution, the low number of adults and the deforestation of the habitat in the whole area, C. sasaimae was considered as Critically Endangered (CR), according to the UICN criteria (Galeano & Bernal 2005). (Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011))A

Common Name

  • Palma de cera, palma real, palma de ramo (Cundinamarca, Colombia). (Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011))A


  • The young leaves were cut in large quantities to be used as Palm Sunday during Easter (Galeano 1995). Currently, this practice is prohibited and people are growing palms from seeds to sell them for ornamental purposes. (Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011))A


  • Stem 8-15(-20) m tall, 17-30 cm diam., brown-greenish to grayish, covered by a very thin layer of wax.
    Leaves 16-26, in a very dense and nearly spherical crown; sheath 73-90(-121) cm long, margins fibrous, abaxial surface covered with thick, light-brown, scaly indumentum; petiole 0-15 cm long, 4-8 wide at apex, adaxial surface glabrescent, margins acute, abaxially covered with deciduous, appressed, often eroded scales; rachis 206-300 cm long, adaxially flattened about 2/3 of its length, hastula-like projection 1-5 mm long, adaxially and abaxially glabrescent to scarcely covered with an indumentum of persistent but eroded, yellowish scales; pinnae 93-120 on each side, slightly irregularly arranged in groups of 1-8 pinnae, the groups separated by 3-5 cm, the pinnae straight and rigid through their length and inserted at slightly divergent angles, inequilateral by 3 cm at the apex, adaxial midrib with scale base scars or persistent, yellowish, minute bases, adaxial surface glabrous, glossy green and covered with a layer of clear translucent wax, abaxial midrib and surface covered with persistent, linear, translucent, cream-colored to brownish, scales; the basal, filiform pinnae 6-45 × 0.2-0.7 cm, basal pinnae (10th from base) 23-80 × 0.5-2.0 cm, middle pinnae 52-78 × 3.2-5.0 cm, apical pinnae 10-28(-50) × 0.5-1.0 (-2.0) cm, sometimes, the 2-3 apical pinnae connate along margins.
    Staminate inflorescences peduncle ca. 77 cm long, 2 cm wide at apex; prophyll 39 cm long, 10-11 cm wide; peduncular bracts 7, 53-188 cm long; rachis 100-115 cm long, with 72-125 branches; rachis and branches glabrescent, longest branches 36-42 cm long; prophyll, peduncle, bracts and base of rachis covered with deciduous, ferrugineous, fibrous scales with minute bases; rachillae glabrous.
    Pistillate inflorescences 4-5(-14) at different stages of development; peduncle 85-102(-155) cm long, 1.5-2.0 cm wide at apex; prophyll 28-32 cm long, 10 cm wide at base; peduncular bracts 6, 43-180(-252) cm long, one 7th bract incomplete, ca. 40 cm long., inserted toward the apex of the peduncle; rachis 76-132 cm long, with 90-100(-125) branches, each subtended by a 0.2-0.6 cm membranaceous bract, longest branches 23-32 cm long; prophyll, peduncle, bracts and base of rachis covered with persistent, brown to ferrugineous scales; rachillae glabrous.
    Staminate flowers: sepals 3, triangular-acuminate, 1.0-1.5 mm long, connate in 0.3-0.5 mm (1/3-½ of the total length), not reaching total length of the corolla tube; petals 3, lanceolate and long-acuminate, 5.5-7.0 mm long, including an acumen of 1.5-2.5 mm long, connate in 1.3-1.8 mm; stamens 9-11(-12), 2-6 antisepalous stamens, and 6-10 antipetalous stamens, filaments 1.0-1.5 mm long, inserted at basal central portion of anther, anthers 2.2-3.5 mm long, anther connective not projected.
    Pistillate flowers: sepals 3, broadly-triangular-acuminate, 1.0-1.5 mm long, connate in 0.6-1.0 mm (½-2/3 of total length), not reaching corolla tube; petals 3, elliptical-acuminate, 5-6.5 mm long, including an acumen of 2-3 mm long, connate up to 1.2-2.0 mm; staminodes 9-1, 1 antisepalous, 2-3 antipetalous, filaments 1 mm long, abortive anthers 0.9-1.2 mm long, pistil trifid, 2-3 mm diam.
    Fruits globose, orange-red when ripe, 1.5-1.8 cm diam., exocarp smooth; fruiting perianth with sepals very broadly triangular, 1.0-1.5 mm long, connate in 0.2-0.5, lobes reaching corolla tube, petals elliptical-acuminate, widened at base, connate in 0.3-0.5 mm, staminodes 9-11.
    Seeds ca.1.2 cm diam. (Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011))A

Materials Examined

  • COLOMBIA. Cundinamarca: Municipio Sasaima, vereda Santa Ana, Finca El Tolima, ca. 5°10' N, 74°25' W, 1600 m, 27 October 1993, G. Galeano & R. Bernal 3980 (mat.fr.) (AAU, COL, HUA, K, NY); municipio San Francisco, 1 km from the town toward the road Bogotá-La Vega, 1700 m, 3-4 October 1998, R. Bernal & G. Galeano 2311 (sterile) (COL); municipio La Vega, km 45 on the road Bogotá-La Vega, ca. 1700 m, 04°58'04" N, 74°18'48.8" W, 25 February 2006, G. Galeano et al. 7451 (mat.fr.) (COL, AAU); municipio San Francisco, vereda El Arrayán, Finca El Recuerdo, 1694 m, 04°58'13.92" N, 74°18'27.6" W, 25 February 2006, G. Galeano et al. 7452 (juvenile) (COL, AAU); 7453 (immat.fr.) (COL, AAU); 7454 (mat.fr.) (COL, AAU); vereda Arrayán Bajo, Finca El Pino, 4°58'13" N 74°18'27" W, 1690 m, 2 March 2008, G. Galeano et al. 7513 (st.fl.) (COL, HUA, AAU); municipio Supatá, near the town, on the road San Francisco-Supatá, 1870 m, 05°03'15"N, 74°14'16" W, 25 February 2006, G. Galeano et al. 7455 (COL, AAU). (Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011))A

Use Record

  • Ceroxylon sasaimae Galeano: Al igual que la mayoría de especies de Ceroxylon, las hojas jóvenes se usan como "ramo bendito" en el domingo de ramos. Si bien, en la actualidad, esta práctica se ha reducido, antiguamente, cuando las palmas eran más abundantes, se extraían cientos de hojas de la región para la venta en Bogotá y Facatativá. (Galeano, G. 1992: Las palmas de la región de Araracuara)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    CulturalRitualEntire leafNot identifiedN/AColombia


    A. Maria Jose Sanin & Gloria Geleano in Phytotaxa 34 (2011)