Plant Collector: Chamaedorea woodsoniana

Attractive fruit but a worryingly large amount of it on the Chamaedorea woodsoniana

Attractive fruit but a worryingly large amount of it on the Chamaedorea woodsoniana

“Look at this,” said Mark putting the seed upon the table. “Off a small palm. It’s either the next invasive weed here or it has a future as a substitute in the palm oil industry.”

It took us a little while to track down the name. We knew it was a chamaedorea but there are quite a few different species so we had to go back to the original purchase to get the C. woodsoniana bit. Like most of the family, it hails from Mexico and Central America, growing in montane rainforest which is why we can grow it here. We can do the rain and the montane reference means it comes from areas with some altitude, making it a little bit hardier. However, given that its climate zone range is 10 to 11 (meaning that if the temperature plummets to around zero fahrenheit, it is not going to thrive – or even survive) and we have been moaning all week about the bitter chill of mid winter, we must be close to the limits of its tolerance. We have it planted on the margins of evergreen woodland so it will be protected from the worst of the cold. In its natural habitat, the palm encyclopaedia tells me it can reach 40 feet (about 12 metres) but we think that is extremely unlikely here. Ours is currently sitting around 2 metres and it is not growing like a rocket.

Mark tries to take the fruiting seeds off the bangalow palms here, to restrict their spread. He is now wondering if he is going to have to do it to this pretty chamaedorea too.

Chamaedorea woodsoniana growing in a protected position in our temperate climate

Chamaedorea woodsoniana growing in a protected position in our temperate climate

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