Chamaedorea elegans

Neanthe Bella Palm from Southern Mexico

09/04/2021 Off By Andy Ptyushkin

Chamaedorea elegans, Neanthe Bella Palm or Parlour Palm, is a species of small palm tree native to the rainforests in Southern Mexico and Guatemala. The parlor palm is one of the most heavily sold houseplant palms in the world. It is one of several species with leaves that are harvested as xate.

A woody, rhizomatous plant with a slender green trunk, it is found in tropical areas and grows to 2 – 3 m (6 ft 7 in – 9 ft 10 in) tall (rarely to 4 – 5 m (13 – 16 ft). It has 1.2 cm – long ringed stigma, punctured crescent-shaped leaves, erect buds, and flexible tubular stems without spines with generally pinnate foliage. The crown carries 3 – 10 long-leaf pinnate leaves (more when mature). A remarkable feature of this species is the early age of the onset of flowering, with some plants blooming with a height of only 30 cm.

The small, light yellow, yellow, or orange-red odorous flowers appear on irregularly branched petioles that grow below or among the leaf. They emerge from the trunk as lateral buds and open in the form of clusters of small balls without petals. These have a certain resemblance to those of the mimosa. Occasionally, pea-sized berries develop after flowering, which are 6 mm in diameter, and dark, collected in paniculate inflorescences.

Southern Mexico

Southern Mexico

It enjoys light potting soil, good humidity and moderate lighting without direct sunlight, but it accommodates a certain dryness, high humidity or reduced lighting. In winter, it is preferable that the temperature of the room it’s housed in does not drop below 12 – 14°C. The plant was successful in the Victorian era because it survived in the dark, unheated British apartments and greenhouses which were used to grow and cultivate exotic plants, a practice fashionable at the time.

In its natural rainforest floor setting, the parlor palm often grows in competition with vines. It sometimes is seen growing along rock walls, which can provide support. Due to the thinness of the stem, in nature the palm sometimes falls over during storms if grown in the open. The rhizomatic roots can re-root from a fallen position in mature plants, if it has grown adventitious roots.