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What is a Necklace Palm?

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  • Written By: M. Haskins
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2016
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The necklace palm is a low-growing palm species native to Central America's rain forests, from southern Mexico to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. It is available as a garden plant in many countries and has been grown as a potted plant in Europe for centuries. The necklace palm grows 5-7 feet (1.5-2.1 m) tall with a single, slender stem with five to 10 bright green, shiny leaves that are 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) long. Its fruit is bluish black in color when ripe and grows clustered together on a long, thin stem, somewhat resembling a necklace of black pearls.

In Latin, this plant is known as Chamaedorea geonomiformis. Previously it was thought that there was a similar but smaller species of necklace palm called Chamaedorea tenella, but plant scientists now consider it as belonging to the Chamaedorea geonomiformis species. The necklace palm belongs to the Chamaedorea genus, a group of plants that includes more than 100 species of palms, all native to the Americas. Like all other palm trees in this genus, it is evergreen and dioecius, meaning that female and male flowers grow on separate plants. The flowers of this particular palm are clustered on a stem and rather unremarkable, being very small and cream or yellow in color.

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This plant can be kept as an indoor plant or grown outdoors if the climate allows. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-1 Celsius). In the wild, the necklace palm is part of the rain forest's undergrowth and this is evident in its growing preferences. It prefers regular watering and moist soil with good drainage, and it should be grown in full shade to light shade. It can tolerate high humidity and low light conditions, but it should not be put in direct sun, because this can burn the leaves, causing them to discolor.

Necklace palms are relatively easy to grow from seed, as long as their growing preferences are met, and the seeds usually will germinate in one to six months. The plant is often somewhat smaller when cultivated than it is in its native habitat, seldom becoming taller than 3 feet (1 m). In a garden, it can be grown as an accent plant, in small groups or in borders, and care should always be taken to plant it where it gets sufficient shade. The best place for one to find seeds and plants of the necklace palm is at nurseries specializing in palm trees.

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