Socratea exorrhiza root cone

Source: Ryan Somma

Socratea exorrhiza root cone

Socratea exorrhiza or stilt palm has stilt roots that support the stipe above the ground.

The function of these roots has been the subject of various hypotheses: adaptation to marshy conditions, possibility to move away when the palm has fallen over (hence the common name walking palm) etc…

However, one study showed the correlation between the structure of the root cone (circumference, volume and number of roots ) and the height of the palm. It is likely that the stilt roots allow the palm to grow higher, to better exploit light gaps in the forest, and give a greater mechanical stability without investing in a thicker trunk or more developed underground root system.

Another feature of this palm is that it is colonized by many epiphytes : up to 66 species belonging to 15 families have been found during field studies. Bryophytes (mosses and sphagnum ) can cover the trunk over more than 30 %. When the palm reaches a certain height, it is also colonized by vascular epiphytes.


The trunk can measure 10-20 m high and 10-20 cm in diameter. It is supported by a root cone formed by numerous roots that can measure up to 2 m long. The root cone appears at an early age.

The dark green leaves are pinnate and up to 2 m long.

The inflorescence is axillary and measures 30-60 cm long.

The fruit is elongated and measures 1.5-2.5 cm long .


The trunk is used in construction and for making spears.

The inner part of the roots is used as an aphrodisiac. Roots, boiled in water, are used as a treatment against hepatitis.


Common names:

Stilt palm, curly stilt root palm, walking palm


Iriartea durissima, Iriartea exorrhiza, Iriartea exorrhiza var. elegans, Iriartea exorrhiza var. orbigniana, Iriartea orbigniana, Iriartea philonotia, Socratea albolineata, Socratea durissima, Socratea elegans, Socratea gracilis, Socratea hoppii, Socratea macrochlamys, Socratea microchlamys, Socratea orbigniana, Socratea philonotia


Socratea: after the Greek philosopher Socrate
Exorrhiza: from the Greek exo (outside) and riza (root)

Socratea exorrhiza


Central America to the Amazon rainforest


Amazonian rainforest


USDA zone 11



Potting soil added with coco peat to retain moisture


Sun, partial shade


Keep the soil moist at all times


Specialized palm tree fertilizer, once a month during spring and summer, nothing in fall and winter


Repot every 2-3 years

Young plants:

Young plants should not be grown in full sun. They are quite fragile and do not like repotting.



Sowing instructions: