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CARLUDOVICA palmata

Image of Carludovica palmata

James Burghardt

Family

Cyclanthaceae

Botanical Name

CARLUDOVICA palmata

Plant Common Name

Panama Hat Palm, Panama Hat Plant

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Certain to make you think it is a palm, the palm-like shrub Panama hat palm has large segmented fan-like leaves and ginger-like flowers. A short-stemmed, evergreen tropical shrub native to southern Central America and extreme northern South America, it is only a cousin to true palms and is more closely related to screw pines (Pandanus spp.).

The large dark green leaves extend upwards from the short stumpy stem. The petioles (leaf stems) are rigid and long, topped by a leaf that has segment divisions that make it look like any fan-leaf palm. In summer, a short flower spike emerges from the plant base and looks like a green, thin pineapple. It is a large, finger-like spadix lined with cup-like lobes that house the male and female flowers. The male flower parts look like pieces of spaghetti pasta. Female flowers yield red fruits.

Grow Panama hat palm in dappled partial sun to partial to full shade under rainforest trees in any fertile, well-draining soil. Ideally the soil should be acidy and rich in organic matter; ample rainfall and ambient humidity allow this plant to look its lushest. It is a lovely accent shrub for a tropical mixed border that is free from frost and even chilly winter temperatures.

This shrub's petioles are harvested for their fibers in order to construct Panama hats, first made internationally popular by American President Teddy Roosevelt during the construction of the Panama Canal in the early 20th century.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 13

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Shade, Full Shade

  • Height

    8'-12' / 2.4m - 3.7m

  • Width

    6'-9' / 1.8m - 2.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Arching/Fountain-shaped

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Green, Tan, Ivory

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Multi-Color

  • Fruit Color

    Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No