Ceroxylon quindiuense

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Ceroxylon quindiuense
Ceroxylon quindiuense 2.png
Ceroxylon quindiuense growing wild in Cocora Valley near Salento, Colombia
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Ceroxylon
Species: C. quindiuense
Binomial name
Ceroxylon quindiuense
(Karst.) H.Wendl.
  • Ceroxylon floccosum Burret
  • Klopstockia quindiuensis H. Karst.

Ceroxylon quindiuense is a palm native to the humid montane forests of the Andes in Colombia and northern Peru.[3]


View of Cocora valley (Colombia) with Ceroxylon quindiuense palms.

This palm species can grow to a height of 45 m (148 ft)—or rarely, even as high as 60 m (200 ft).[3] It is the tallest recorded monocot in the world.[4] The trunk is cylindrical, smooth, light colored, covered with wax; leaf scars forming dark rings around the trunk.[3] The leaves are dark green and grayish, 185–540 cm long, with a petiole up to 80 cm long.[3] Fruits are globose and orange-red when ripe, 1.6–2 cm in diameter.[3]


It grows in large and dense populations along the central and eastern Andes of Colombia (rarely in the western Colombian Andes), with a disjunct distribution in the Andes of northern Peru.[3] The elevational range of this species is between 2,000 and 3,100 m (6,600 and 10,200 ft) above sea level.[3] It achieves a minimum reproductive age at 80 years.[5] Wax palms provide habitats for many unique life forms, including endangered species such as the yellow-eared parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis).

Vernacular names[edit]

Palma de cera, palma de ramo (both names in Colombia).[3]


Populations of Ceroxylon quindiuense are threatened by habitat disturbance, overharvesting and diseases.[5] The fruit was used as feed for cattle and pigs. The leaves were extensively used in the Catholic celebrations of Palm Sunday;[6] such leaves coming from young individuals which were damaged to death.[5] That activity has been reduced severely in recent years due to law enforcement and widespread campaign.[3] Felling of Ceroxylon quindiuense palms to obtain wax from the trunk also is an activity still going on in Colombia and Peru.[3] The palm is recognized as the national tree of Colombia, and since the implementation of Law 61 of 1985, it is legally a protected species in that country.[5][7]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

The wax of the trunk was used to make candles, especially in the 19th century.[3] The outer part of the stem of the palm has been used locally for building houses, and was used to build water supply systems for poor farmers.[3][5] It is cultivated as an ornamental plant in Colombia and California.[3][5]



  1. ^ "Ceroxylon quindiuense". www.iucnredlist.org. 
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Sanin, Maria Jose; Galeano, Gloria (2011). "A revision of the Andean wax palms, Ceroxylon (Arecaceae)" (PDF). Phytotaxa (34): 47–50. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  4. ^ "Ceroxylon quindiuense - Palmpedia - Palm Grower's Guide". www.palmpedia.net. Retrieved 2016-01-26. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Madriñan, S.; Schultes, R.E. (1995). "Colombia's national tree: the wax palm Ceroxylon quindiuense and its relatives" (PDF). Elaeis. 7 (1): 35–56. 
  6. ^ "Bogotá, 'Reconcíliate con la Naturaleza' este Domingo de Ramos". En Detalle. Portal Bogota WACG. Retrieved 2016-01-26. 
  7. ^ Presidencia de la República de Colombia. "Símbolos patrios" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 6 April 2016.