Carludovica palmata or Panama hat palm is not a palm tree nor from Panama.
It is a herb whose fibers are used to make hats in Panama, from where they are exported.
It is quite easy to grow, it needs a lot of water and does not tolerate drought.
Can be grown in the garden only in the tropics but elsewhere it grows easily in pot as a patio or house plant.
Carludovica palmata is a stemless, palm-like, evergreen shrub of up to 3-4 m high.
The leaves are fan-shaped and form large clusters. The petioles form a sheath at the base of palm-like, deep-lobed leaves.
The flowers are unisexual, with both male and female flowers on the same plant. The inflorescences are dense, axillary spadixes with 2 or more deciduous spathes.
- All parts of the plant are edible but the fruits contain calcium oxalate crystals
- Fibers of the petiole are used to manufacture Panama hats, cigar cases, bags, mats…
- The leaves are used as roofing or emergency umbrella
Jipijapa palm, palmita, Panama hat palm, toquilla palm
Carludovica gigantea, Carludovica humilis, Carludovica incisa, Carludovica jamaicensis, Carludovica palmata var. humilis, Carludovica serrata, Ludovia palmata, Salmia jamaicensis, Salmia palmata
Carludovica: after King Charles IV of Spain (1748-1819) and his Queen, Luisa (1751-1819)
Palmata: from the Latin palmātus (palm-like)
Western South America
Lowland and submontane rainforests, 0-800 m altitude
USDA zone 10-11
Fertile, moist but well-drained soil
Light, partial shadow
Keep moist all year round
In the garden: organic fertilizer, 3-4 times a year
In pot: general garden fertilizer (10-30-10) monthly
Mostly by dividing the roots but also by seed.
- sow in moist sowing substrate
- 25-30 °C
- germination: 2 weeks
- protect the seedlings from direct sunlight