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Carludovica palmata - Ruiz & Pav.

Common Name Panama Hat Plant, Carludovica Palm
Family Cyclanthaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The fruits contain calcium oxalate crystals[ 416 ]. (Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested)
Habitats Moist or usually wet, mixed, lowland or mountain rainforest, sometimes in open places, especially in areas of secondary growth, at elevations below 800 metres[ 331 , 521 ].
Range Western S. America - Peru, north through Central America to southern Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Carludovica palmata Panama Hat Plant, Carludovica Palm

Carludovica palmata Panama Hat Plant, Carludovica Palm
Hans Hillewaert wikimedia.org


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Panama Hat Plant or Carludovica palmata is a palm-like evergreen shrub that grows up to 3-4 m tall and found in Western South America. The leaves are fan-shaped and form into clusters. Edible parts are the young leaves and shoots, fruits, and roots. The stem yields strong, flexible, and durable fibre used for making Panama hats, cigar cases, small bags, mats, etc. The leaves are used as thatch and made into brooms. There is no known medicinal use of this plant. Other Names: "palm", Bombonassa, jipipapa, Toquilla, Chapeu-panama, Pumpuna. Spanish: bombonaje; carludovica; palma de sonbreroros (Mexico). French: carludovique. Cuba: jipijapa. Germany: Panama-Palme. Italy: carludovica.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Carludovica palmata is an evergreen Perennial growing to 2 m (6ft) by 2 m (6ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
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 and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map



Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Fruit  Leaves  Root  Shoots
Edible Uses: Condiment

Edible portion: Young flower, Leaves, Leafstalk, Fruit, Rhizome, Root. Young leaves and shoot tips - raw. Eaten in salads, they are said to have the flavour of asparagus[ 301 ]. Inner portions of lower leafstalks[ 301 ]. Fruit[ 301 ]. A red, slightly sweet pulp[ 416 ]. The fruit contains calcium oxalate crystals[ 416 ], which can give a sensation in the mouth of lots of small needles being stuck into the skin[ K ]. Roots - raw or cooked[ 301 ]. Added to salads or cooked as a potherb[ 301 ]. Young inflorescences[ 301 ].

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

Broom  Fibre  Thatching  Weaving

Other uses rating: High (4/5). Other Uses: A fibre is obtained from the stems. It is used for making Panama hats, cigar cases, small bags, mats etc[ 46 , 302 , 454 ]. The fibre, or more properly narrow strips of the very young leaves, is notable for its strength, durability, and flexibility[ 311 ]. From it are made the well-known Panama hats in Central America 'sombreros de Jipijapa' which, despite their English name, are not made in Panama but in a restricted area of Ecuador where atmospheric conditions are particularly suitable for their handling[ 331 ]. The leaves are cut while young, and the stiff parallel veins removed, after which they are slit into shreds, but not separated at the stalk end, and immersed in boiling water for a short time and then bleached in the sun[ 454 ]. The leaves are split into two parts and used as thatch[ 302 , 521 ]. The whole leaf is used as an emergency umbrella in sudden downpours[ 521 ]. Used for making brooms[ 302 ]. Suitable for growing in containers.

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the moist tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 800 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 24 - 32°c, but can tolerate 12 - 37°c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 1,800mm, but tolerates 800 - 2,200mm[ 418 ]. Succeeds in full sun, but prefers a shady position, growing well in the shade of trees[ 302 ]. Prefers a fertile, moist but well-drained soil. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6, tolerating 4.5 - 6.5[ 418 ]. When grown from seed, the first leaves are ready for harvesting after about 7 years[ 418 ]. If suckers are used, the leaves can be harvested after about 18 months, by which stage there will be about 20 - 30 leaves[ 418 ]. Suitable for growing in containers.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium. Seed Collecting: Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing. Division from the root clump.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Panama Hat Plant or Carludovica palmata. Other Names: "palm", Bombonassa, jipipapa, Toquilla, Chapeu-panama, Pumpuna. Spanish: bombonaje; carludovica; palma de sonbreroros (Mexico). French: carludovique. Cuba: jipijapa. Germany: Panama-Palme. Italy: carludovica.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Australia, Brazil, Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guiana, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Mexico, North America, Pacific, Panama, Peru, South America, USA.

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.

May be a noxious weed or invasive. Some evidence it is invasive in Cuba.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Least Concern

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.


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Ruiz & Pav.

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.

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