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Chamaedorea tepejilote - Leibm. ex C.Mart.

Common Name Pacaya Palm, Palmito dulce
Family Arecaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The juice of the fruit of most members of this genus is said to be an irritant to the skin[ 297 ].
Habitats Moist, humus-rich soils in the understorey of the rainforests[ 200 , 297 ]. Forests, often on limestone soils, at elevations up to 1,600 metres[ 786 ].
Range Northwestern S. America - Colombia; C. America - Panama to Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Chamaedorea tepejilote Pacaya Palm, Palmito dulce

Chamaedorea tepejilote Pacaya Palm, Palmito dulce


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Pacaya Palm, Chamaedorea tepejilote, is a small palm tree from the Arecaceae family found in southern Mexico, Central America, and northern Colombia where it is considered to be an important vegetable crop and an ornamental. It is usually single-stemmed and grows up to 7 m in height and 10 cm in trunk diameter. The trunk has swollen nodes and the crown is composed of loose dark green fronds. The flowers are fragrant, greenish-yellow in colour, and form into clusters just below the crown. Pacaya palm is dioecious and fast-growing. It can be solitary or clumping. The immature, male inflorescence is eaten raw or cooked as vegetable and added to salads. The leaves and apical buds can also be cooked.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Chamaedorea tepejilote is an evergreen Tree growing to 7 m (23ft) by 5 m (16ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Chamaedorea anomospadix Burret Chamaedorea casperiana Klotzsch Chamaedorea columbica Burret Chamaedo

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves
Edible Uses:

Edible portion: Cabbage, Palm heart, Male flower, Bracts. The immature, male inflorescence is eaten raw or cooked[ 301 , 314 , 423 ]. The male flower is eaten while immature in salads. It is also boiled or fried in egg batter. It is harvested before the inflorescence opens, at which stage it looks like an ear of corn[ 423 ]. Added to salads ( traditionally eaten in Guatemala on the Day of the Dead) or cooked as a vegetable (called "rellenos de pacaya," and is often served with tomato sauce, like chiles rellenos.) [ 297 , 301 ]. A bitter flavour, it is sometimes cooked in several changes of water[ 301 ]. Leaves - cooked[ 763 ]. The apical bud, often known as a 'palm heart', is eaten as a vegetable[ 763 ]. Eating this bud leades to the death of the tree because it is unable to make any side shoots[ K ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Other Uses: None known

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the moist tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,600 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20° - 28°c, but can tolerate 15° - 32°c[ 418 ]. It can be killed by temperatures of 2°c or lower[ 418 ]. Plants can tolerate occasional light frosts[ 423 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 700 - 3,000mm[ 418 ]. An easily grown plant if its basic requirements are met[ 297 ]. It requires at least moderate shade, and can tolerate deep shade[ 297 ]. It requires a well-drained, moist, humus-rich soil[ 297 , 314 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 6 - 8[ 418 ]. A variable plant in the wild, with some forms growing 7 metres or more tall and others only 2 metres[ 297 ]. A fast-growing plant, producing flowers and fruit when only a few years old[ 297 ]. A dioecious species - both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required[ 297 , 768 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Plants are grown from seed.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Pacaya Palm, Chamaedorea tepejilote, Other Names: Cana verde, Pacaito, Siplina.

Found In: Australia, Belize, Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, North America, Panama, South America.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


Leibm. ex C.Mart.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

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