Palm: Bamboo Palm Chamaedorea sp.
FAMILY: ARECACEAE (Palm Family)
Chamaedoreas are understory palms from the rain forests of Mexico and Central and South America. They grow on the forest floor, shaded by both the upper and secondary levels of trees. The common name, bamboo palm, comes from the similarity of their neat, clean trunks to the stalks of the bamboo.
These palms have evolved growth patterns of two types: those with a single trunk; others with multiple trunks, growing in a cluster. The fruiting head can be very colorful, usually with coal-black berries lined up on a brilliant orange or red stem. The ripened fruits of chamaedoreas need to be handled with care. They contain microscopic bundles of needle-like crystals which, when they come into contact with a mucous membrane, cause an irritation that is almost unbearable. This irritant does not bother some animals; birds and civets that eat the fruit are the principal means of spreading the seed in the wild. In an immature flower stalk the irritating crystals are not developed, and young inflorescences are sold in the marketplaces of Central America. These are eaten raw, like celery; or they can be cooked and served like asparagus.