This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(from calyptra, hidden, and gyne, woman, in allusion to the half-hidden gynoecium). Palmaceae, tribe Geonomeae. Short, almost completely stemless and unarmed palms with unequally pinnate terminal leaves.
Stems frequently stoloniferous, when present, ringed below: leaves numerous, often with the pinnate segments joined together, in extreme youth 4-parted instead of bi-partite as in most related genera; leaflets somewhat irregularly disposed on the rachis, broadly or narrowly scythe-shaped, running at the tip to an abrupt point, at the base revolute; petiole very short or practically none: spadix simple or sometimes branched at the base, long-stalked; spathes 2; flowers a little unequal, with 3 sepals, 3 petals and 6 stamens, the style half immersed in the spadix: fruit oblong or obovoid, 1-seeded. - About 4 species, all from tropical N. Amer. From Geonoma, a near relative and horticulturally a much more important genus, Calyptrogyne is distinguished only by the almost stemless habit, and the purely technical character of having prominently arrow-shaped anthers. In Geonoma the anthers are pendulous, but not sagittate.
Calyptrogynes are handsome palms, seldom seen outside of large collections. Special care must be given to the soil so that it will be sweet and porous, especially after the plants leave the seed-pan. Well-drained pots and a little charcoal mixed with the soil, and the plants kept in a uniformly moist state, are conditions essential to the healthy growth of the plants. In this genus, C. Ghiesbreghtiana is the most widely known species, another garden name for which is Geonoma Verschaffeltii. These are shade-loving palms, having leaves of comparatively thin texture, and consequently are subject to attacks of red spider unless properly cared for in regard to moisture. Calyptrogynes are most useful in a small state, old plants in general being rather leggy and poorly furnished. (G. W. Oliver and W. H. Taplin.)
H. Wendl. (Geonoma glauca, Oerst.). Practically stemless: leaves 4-5 ft. long, the sheathing petiole brownish, about 1 ft. long; leaflets numerous, about 2-3 in. apart, with 4 principal nerves, and scarcely any secondary ones: spadix simple, differing from the following species in which the spadix is often branched, 2-3 ft. long, the pistillate flowers half hidden in tiny pits. Cent. Amer. G.C. III. 30:179. - Not a common species, but young plants are specially attractive.
Ghiesbreghtiana, H. Wendl. (Geonoma Ghiesbreghtiana, Lindl. & H. Wendl. G. magnifica and G. Verschaffeltii, Hort.). stem short or almost none: petiole 5 ft. long: leaves elongate-oval; segments in 6 pairs, unequal, almost opposite, rather remote, lanceolate, very long-acuminate, falcate, the 2 uppermost on each side very wide: spadix often branched below, the flowers half hidden in tiny pits. Chiapas, Mex. B.M. 5782.
C. sarapiguensis, H. Wendl. stem short: leaves 6 ft. long. Costa Rica. G.C. III. 29:217, desc. - C. spicigera, H. Wendl. stem evident: leaves irregularly pinnate, 3 ft. or less long, the stalks flat on upper side. Guatemala. - C. Swartzii, Hort., is a Geonoma. N. Taylor