Pacaya Palm, Chamaedorea tepejilote

The Pacaya Palm’s leaves
The Pacaya Palm’s prop roots.
Pacaya Palm stalks often grow away from the plant parallel to the ground, then turn up and leaf out, presumably to allow more sunlight to shine on the leaves. Photo by Bob Thomas.
The Pacaya Palm’s fruit. Tikal National Park, Guatemala. Photos by Aimée Thomas.

Pacaya Palm, Chamaedorea tepejilote, is a common native species in Central America. It was heavily used by the Maya, so it is especially associated with past and current human sites. The Maya built large reservoirs to catch rain water, and the planted pacaya around the margins so their dense prop-rooted bases would filter soil out of flowing water that entered the reservoirs. Amazing that the plants are still abundant in the same places planted hundreds of years ago. This planting scheme is very obvious in Tikal, Caracol, and elsewhere.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s