Quindío wax palm

Ceroxylon quindiuense

Family: Arecaceae

Natural Range: Colombia, Peru

IUCN Conservation Status

Endangered (EN)

Ceroxylon quindiuense is a palm found in montane forests between 2000 and 3000 metres above sea level. It is a solitary stemmed palm which can grow up to 60 metres tall. It is a diecious species (male and female flowers on different individuals).

This palm was declared the national tree and emblem of Colombia. Traditionally, the leaves were used during ‘Semana Santa’ or Holy Week. However, recently a ban has been introduced to stop this practice and protect the leaves of this species. The tree is also used to make fencing, beams and walls of houses. The wax was used for making candles and matches until the middle of the 19th Century. The extraction of the wax often involved felling the trees.

Nowadays, its population is threatened by the intensive deforestation for conversion to pasture. Although Colombian legislation forbids the logging of this species, large parts of the remaining population are found in extensive pastures as mature individuals incapable of reproduce in these deforested landscapes. Ceroxylon quindiuense is therefore considered Endangered.

Photo: Natalia Tejedor/GTSG

Selected References

Galeano, G. and  Bernal, R. Red List of Palms : https://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/colombia_red_list_of_palms.pdf

Bernal, R., and Sanín, M. (2013). Los palmares de Ceroxylon quindiuense (Arecaceae) en el Valle de Cocora, Quindío. Colombia Forestal, 16(1), 67-79.

Did you know?

Fruit from the baobab tree has been called the new ‘superfood’ on the international market after it was approved for use in smoothies by the European Union in 2008.

Read more about trees valued for a source of food.