754 Chamaedorea metallicaCommon Names: metallic palm, miniature fishtail palm Family: Arecacea (palm Family)
The popular and much loved metallic palm is the only palm we know that has foliage with a dark metallic blue green sheen like the color of gunmetal. This single stemmed palm has leaves in the shape of a chalice or fish's tail being simple, undivided and notched at the tip. Other forms of this palms have leaves that are pinnately compound (feather shaped) with 4-7 linear or S-shaped leaflets. The erect leaves grow almost straight up to as much as 30 in (76 cm) long and 10-16 in (25.4-40.6 cm) wide. The stems of the metallic palm are 12-18 in (30.5-45.7 cm) long and up to 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter. Metallic palm has attractive red, purple or orange flowers that yield small black fruits. The elliptical fruits are about a 0.5 in (1.3 cm) long and 0.3 in (0.8 cm) in diameter.
Metallic palm, Chamaedorea metallica, occurs naturally in thick wet forests along the Atlantic slope and lowland rainforests of Mexico. Metallic palm often grows in limestone soils up to 2000 ft (610 m) above sea level.
CultureMetallic palm thrives in moist, humus rich soil and is tolerant of alkaline limestone soils. Naturally undemanding for nutrients, metallic palm responds very well to regular applications of palm fertilizer. Metallic palm grows naturally in the understory of dense forests, and is tolerant of deep shade and low light conditions. Light: Metallic palm grows well outdoors in deep shade or medium-bright light. As a houseplant, it thrives with 10-12 hours/day of artificial light. Moisture: Metallic palm prefers uniformly moist, not wet, soil that has good drainage. It grows best in moderate to high humidity and indoor specimens benefit greatly from daily misting. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 12. Mature and established plants have been reported to tolerate temperatures down to 28ºF (-2.2ºC) for four days with no leaf damage. They will not survive temperatures below about 20ºF (-6.7ºC), though. Propagation: Metallic palm can be propagated by seeds. Seeds are easiest to germinate if planted within 4-6 weeks after the fruit is ripe.
Naturally tolerant of low light conditions, metallic palms are perfect for understory plantings and ideal as houseplants. Metallic palm stands out as a small accent plant due to its remarkable metallic evergreen foliage that provides spectacular backdrop for flowering plants in shade gardens. The metallic palm also will grow beautifully on the eastern side of a house where it will get little or no sunlight.
This well-known and much loved palm is an endangered species and the only known palm with leaves having a blue-green metallic sheen. The metallic luster shows up particularly well when the leaves are moist. This small unique palm is one of the easiest to care for and makes one of the most ideal and durable house or shade palms known! The genus name Chamaedorea comes from the Greek words that mean 'near-the-ground gifts', and refers to the easy-to-reach fruits (pronounce it "kam-ah-DOOR-e-ah").
The fruits are NOT edible and the sap and juices may irritate sensitive skin.
cmc 7/30/00; updated 9/16/04