Ceroxylon sasaimae

Family: Arecaceae    Palm Tree

Common Name: Sasaima Wax Palm

Common Synonymy:
Palma de cera, palma real, palma de ramo

Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b     View the UK and US zone maps

Identification:
Stem 8-15(-20)m tall, 17-30 cm diam., brown-greenish to grayish, covered by a very thin layer of wax. Leaves 16-26, in a very dense and nearly spherical crown; sheath 73-90(-121) cm long, margins fibrous, abaxial surface covered with thick, light-brown, scaly indumentum; petiole 0-15 cm long, 4-8 wide at apex, adaxial surface glabrescent, margins acute, abaxially covered with deciduous, appressed, often eroded scales; rachis 206-300 cm long, adaxially flattened about two thirds of its length, hastula-like projection 1-5 mm long, adaxially and abaxially glabrescent to scarcely covered with an indumentum of persistent but eroded, yellowish scales; pinnae 93-120 on each side, slightly irregularly arranged in groups of 1-8 pinnae, the groups separated by 3-5 cm, the pinnae straight and rigid through their length and inserted at slightly divergent angles, inequilateral by 3 cm at the apex, adaxial midrib with scale base scars or persistent, yellowish, minute bases, adaxial surface glabrous, glossy green and covered with a layer of clear translucent wax, abaxial midrib and surface covered with persistent, linear, translucent, cream-coloured to brownish, scales; Fruits globose, orange-red when ripe, 1.5-1.8 cm diam., exocarp smooth; Seeds ca.1.2 cm diam. C. sasaimae is diagnosed by its very dense and almost sphaerical crown of leaves with very short or absent petiole, pinnae irregularly arranged in groups, rigid through their length and inserted at slightly divergent angles, male flowers with 9-12 stamens, and smooth fruits.

General Information:
Because of its restricted distribution, the low number of adults and the deforestation of the habitat in the whole area, C. sasaimae was considered as Critically Endangered (CR), according to the UICN criteria.

Distribution:

Native to, Colombia

Known until 2010 only from the eastern Cordillera in Colombia, in a small area completely transformed to agricultural land, corresponding to humid premontane forest zone, at 1400-1800 m. However, in 2011 it was surprinsingly discovered in the wild by Bernal and Manrique, at 144 km northwest from the known locality, in a 2800 hectare forest patch, though it is unclear what percentage of this patch is actually covered by the population of C. sasaimae. The total known population from Sasaima has been estimated in no more than 100 adult individuals, that grow in the middle of coffee and fruit plantations, where regeneration is abundant but is removed during cultivation labours. Only scattered individuals survive as seedlings and juveniles in the fallow land. Therefore, it is crucial to search this species in other forest remnants that meet its requirements to determine its actual population.

Location: Colombia (6.084450°N, -75.030098°E)

Observations
Map may not represent the complete natural distribution. (Markers display observation data).


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