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CHAMAEDOREA cataractarum

Image of Chamaedorea cataractarum

Carol Cloud Bailey

Family

Arecaceae

Botanical Name

CHAMAEDOREA cataractarum

Plant Common Name

Cat Palm

General Description

The relatively short stature of this popular palm make it ideal for smaller landscapes and interiorscapes. Cat palm originates from southeastern Mexico where it naturally can be found growing in the damp forest understory and along moist stream sides. Plants tend to sucker and eventually form concentrated, dense clumps. Most cat palms are sold as container foliage plants for the houseplant market.

This attractive clump-forming palm produces green, elegantly arching, pinnately compound fronds. The plants are dioecious, which means individual plants have either male flowers or female, never both. Both male and female blooms are yellow and appear intermittently throughout the year. Female plants produce many small, black fruits after pollination.

In the wild, cat palm grows in an understory position with dappled sun and has the same partial sun requirement in cultivation (as full sun tends to burn and bleach its leaves). Plant it in moderately sandy, evenly moist soil with good drainage. It is not salt tolerant, so refrain from planting it near the ocean. It makes an attractive tropical houseplant or an eye-catching accent along the edge of an active stream in the appropriate climate.

The fruits contain calcium oxalate crystals and there may be health concerns with the ingestion or handling them. To learn more see: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP23800.pdf

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    11 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 13

  • Sunset Zone

    H2, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Palm or Cycad

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    5'-8' / 1.5m - 2.4m

  • Width

    2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Arching/Fountain-shaped

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Foundation, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No