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.
(Charles IV, and his Queen Louisa, of Spain). Cyclanthaceae. Palm-like, sometimes merely herbaceous plants, of tropical America.
The plants are stemless, or sometimes with a lax creeping stem, and usually have stalked, sometimes sessile, flabellate lys.: flowers monoecious, the two sexes being on the same spadix, which is inclosed in a 4-lvd. spathe; staminate flowers with many stamens and manylobed calyx, 4 of them surrounding a pistillate flower-the latter have a 4-sided ovary, 4 barren stamens, and 4-lobed calyx: fruit a 4-sided, many-seeded berry. The car-ludovicas are usually regarded and treated as stove palms by gardeners. They are useful for decoration. The family Cyclanthaceae is exclusively tropical American, of about 45 species and 6 genera (Stelestylis, Carludovica, Sarcinanthus, Ludovia, Evodianthus, Cyclanthus); it is often united with the Pandanaceae or screw-pine family.
The genus is an important economic one, as C palmata, and perhaps other species, are the source of Panama hats. In making these, the leaves are cut young, the stiff veins removed, after which the leaves are slit into shreds, but not separated at the stalk end. It is said that hats of superior quality are plaited from a single leaf, without any joinings. U. S. Dept. Agric, Fiber Investigations. Rept. 9:112 (1897).
Fig. 800. Carludovica palmata.
Carludovica palmata is the species most frequently met with under cultivation. Under favorable conditions it grows to a height of about 8 feet. All of the kinds need stove treatment during the winter months; in summer they may be used for subtropical bedding with good results. They have a certain palm-like appearance, but the leaves are of a softer texture than any of the palms. They may be propagated by division, choosing the early spring for the operation. C. palmata seeds freely. The fruit, when ripe, has an ornamental appearance for a short time after bursting open. The seeds are very small, and should be carefully washed free from the pulp, and sown on the surface of a pan of finely chopped sphagnum moss. Germination takes place in two weeks from sowing if kept in a brisk, moist heat. The species are not particular as to soil but the drainage must be perfect, as the plants require an abundance of water when growing. (G. W. Oliver.)
A. Leaves 3-5-lobed. palmata, Ruiz. & Pav. Fig. 800. No trunk: petioles 3-6 ft. long, glabrous, terete and unarmed; blades 4-lobed, the lobes again cut into narrow segments, dark green, gracefully spreading, and drooping at the margin. Peru. R.H. 1861, p. 36. - The common species, and a very useful plant.
Wendl. Much like the last, but more compact under cultivation, owing to the shorter petioles, but growing much larger: petiole distinctly pubescent; leaf - blade large and orbicular, 3- or 4-lobed. Costa Rica. B.M. 7083.
Williams. Blades with 4 or 5 lobes, which are very deeply cut into straight strap-like divisions. Probably of horticultural origin.
aa. Leaves 2-lobed.
Wendl. Blades very deeply 2-lobed and very deep, rich green (whence the name, dark green), glabrous. Colombia.
Poepp. & Endl. Dwarf: blades angular, 2-lobed at the summit, the segments more or less jagged but not divided, a foot or less broad. Colombia. R.H. 1869, p. 327. - One of the best.
Plumerii, Kunth (C. palmaefolia, Sweet). Caudex erect: blades with 2 lanceolate and plicate divisions, bright green above and pale beneath: spadices pendulous. Martinique.
Lind. & Andre. Caudex short and prostrate: blades with 2 ovate-lanceolate entire segments, with very prominent veins, the lobes about 5 in. wide and shining green; petiole purplish, canaliculate, tumid at the base. Ecuador. I.H. 21:166 (by error 165).
The following species are in cult, in this country but not as yet known to the trade: C. funifera, Kunth. Stemless or sometimes creeping and with a round, sparsely branched stem: leaves alternate 1-2 ft. S. Amer. - C. incisa, Wendl. A much cut, low plant from Cent. Amer. - C. macropoda, Klotzsch. stem scarcely 1 ft. long: leaves faintly 3-nerved, deeply 2-parted, 1 1 1/2-2 ft. Colombia. - C. micro-ctphala, Hook. f. stem a few inches high: leaves numerous, 10-18 in. long, split into 2 8-nerved segments; petiole slender, purplish at base. Costa Rica. B.M. 7263. - C. plicata, Klotzsch. stem short: leaves divided into 2 1-nerved segments; petioles channeled: spadix about 6 in. long: the thick woody caudex may not rise more than 1 ft. Colombia. - C. scandens, Cowell. stem creeping, often 25 ft. long: leaves several at the summit, about 18 in. long. stem Kitts.