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Classification, origin and description
Common name: Camadorea.
Family: Palmeae (Arecaceae)
Etymology: the name derives from the Greek chamai, dwarf, and dory, tree or tree trunk, for the large number of small-sized species.
Origin: Central and South America
Genre description: includes about 100 species of palm trees with a thin or single-stem trunk, marked by scars formed after the leaves have fallen. The leaves, formed by two or more leaflets, have a sheathing petiole. They can reach sizes ranging from 4 to 10 m (climbing species reach up to 15 m in height). They produce yellow or red inflorescences, formed by a simple spadix protected by three spathe at the base, which are followed by the female plants (they are dioecious plants) the fruits, consisting of single or group dry berries, red, yellow or black. These plants are widespread as houseplants.
Chamaedorea elegans (website photo)
Species and varieties
Chamaedorea cataractum: this species has spots on the green stem and a thick crown of intense green leaves. Young plants also produce flowers to which reddish berries occur.
Chamaedorea desmoncoides: originally from Mexico, it has an erect stem, which, with age, becomes sarmentose. The pale green leaves are composed of numerous leaflets and are up to 1 m in length.
Chamaedorea elatior: originally from Mexico it is also known as C. scandens. It is a bushy species with a creeping habit and stems wrapped in the sheath of the leaves, up to 1 m long and composed of numerous leaflets (60 cm each).
Chamaedorea elegans: originally from Mexico it is also called Palma nana or Neanthe bella or Neanthe elegans or Collinia elegans. It can reach 150-200 cm in height. It has leaves, which reach the length of a meter, formed by numerous leaflets (up to 10 cm long and even 2-3 cm wide). Usually the slender stem is solitary, but sometimes it produces underground stolons and coils. The most widespread variety is the "Bella", which differs from the type species by its more compact growth and slower growth.
Chamaedorea ernestii-augustii o simplicifrons: this species has a single stem up to 150 cm tall, with adventitious roots at the base. The leaves are simple, up to 50 cm long and bifid at the end.
Chamaedorea geonomaeformis: originally from Guatemala, it is similar to the previous one but leaves and stem are shorter.
Chamaedorea oblongata: originally from Mexico, it has a single stem 2-3 m high and leaves, up to 1 m long, formed by sharp elongated leaflets.
Environmental requirements, substrate, fertilizations and special precautions
Temperature: the minimum winter temperature must remain between 13-15 ° C.
Light: although they also tolerate less bright environments, they will be more beautiful and grow faster with good diffused light (protected from direct sunlight).
Watering and environmental humidity: watering must be regular and more frequent in summer, when spraying of foliage will be particularly welcome. The environmental humidity must be good, integrated with leaf washes.
Substrate: humiferous soil, composed of fertilized earth, with the addition of peat and sand, to make it more permeable. They prefer small and taller than large vases.
Special fertilizations and tricks: fertilize every 15-20 days in the period April-September. They repot every two years, in May.
Plants of this genus reproduce by seed, but the slow growth and the need for the seed to be very fresh make multiplication by division of the tufts more practical, when the stem is not single, taking care to choose plants with healthy and intact roots , which will be repotted and kept at a temperature of 21 ° C. This practice can be done at the beginning of the vegetative restart in the spring.
Diseases, pests and adversities
- Red spider mite: occurs particularly in hot and dry environments with yellowing and deterioration of the leaves and the appearance of small cobwebs on the lower page. It is prevented by maintaining a certain degree of humidity and by spraying the leaves; it is treated with an acaricidal product.
- Leaves that dry and wither: symptom of too hot and dry climate. Bring the plant to a cooler and more humid environment (spray the leaves with warm water).
- Tips of the leaves that become dark and dry: too dry environment. It is necessary to immerse the pot, to the brim, in water to allow the soil to soak completely. Then water more frequently.
- Mealybugs: they occur with the formation of brown growths (determined by the small "shell") and giving the plant a blackish and sticky appearance (due to the production by the plant of sugary substances that make it subject to attack by fungi and sooty mold). They are fought by removing them and treating the plant with an anticoccidic product or by rubbing the affected parts with a pad soaked in water and alcohol.
- Aphids: attack leaves and flowers. They suck the sap and make the plant sticky. They are eliminated by washing the plant and treating it with specific insecticides.