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Ceroxylon quindiuense

Ceroxylon quindiuense
Ceroxylon quindiuense

Another thank you to Andreas from Bogotá (aka Quimbaya@Flickr) for sharing photographs from Colombia (BPotD Flickr Group Pool | original image 1 | original image 2). I think it's a real benefit for BPotD to be able to share photographs from around the world.

Wax palm, Andean wax palm or palma de cera has the dubious honour of being on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. Like so many other species, the major threat is habitat loss. In this case, the montane forest it grows in is being cleared for agriculture. I've looked closely at the hillside photograph – despite the adult plants being “protected” in this pasture, there is no seedling establishment to speak of, no young plants to replace the old. Not hopeful.

The Plants for a Future database has an entry for Ceroxylon quindiuense, if you are interested in the economic botany and growth requirements of the plant.

For more reading on threatened species, recent headlines feature birds, amphibians and deep-sea fish.


The accelerated loss of plant and animal species saddens me deeply. Thanks for giving us a greater appreciation of the depth of that loss.

I wonder if the problem is not complete loss of habitat, but simply that grazing cows or sheep are eating the seedlings. Allowing the pasture to rest for three or four years might be enough to re-establish another generation of plants.

Perhaps someone needs to plant them or cultivate them? I'm not being facetious--there have been people, significant populations, living in Colombia for well over 10,000 years. If this palm used to thrive when there was a much larger native population, perhaps it was because the natives encouraged it in some way, because they saw it as useful. Or the method they used to farm then was not as destructive to it.

I recently finished reading 1491. One of its premises was that the Americas was not nearly so untouched and virgin as is commonly supposed. That much of the landscape, vegetation, and animal life on both continents were the result of cultivation by the indigenous peoples for thousands of years.

It is a fascinating and thought-provoking book, and I recommend it if you haven't read it yet. Even if you don't agree with it, it raises some very interesting questions.

Having travelled a lot across Colombia I believe that deforestation and complete habitat loss may actually be the most serious problems affecting the population of this particular native palm tree and those of many other native plants and animals.

My daughter, who took these photos on a trip with her scout group to Cocora Valley in Quindío, told me that she observed that at that place, being a National Park, young palms are being cultivated. But outside the forest reservations and National Parks, it's quite a different story...

If your looking to grow from seeds this Palm, then I know that Rare seeds has some. Starting palms is a long time process, but not nessesarily very hard. Very rewarding.

Rare Palm Seeds

editor of the magazine of the French palm society, Fous de Palmiers, we're publishing an article in French is the December issue of our magazine, Le Palmier - how might I get in touch with Andreas to ask for permission to reproduce these photos? - help please

Click on the Quimbaya@Flickr link in the first line of text and send him a Flickrmail. You might need to sign up for Flickr first - it's free.

Steve, please contact me at aphilipp62 AT gmail DOT com. Those pictures were taken by my 12 years old daughter who is thrilled about your interest.

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