M. caryotaefolia, a young plant of which is illustrated, is one of a small family of rather slender growing South American palms, the species in question having been found in parts of Peru and also New Granada. Though this species has been in cultivation since 1845, it is not now largely grown, but few seeds being offered in the market.
The martinezia also possesses a disadvantage in being so abundantly provided with long and sharp spines, not only the stems, but also the backs of the leaves being armed with these needlelike protectors, and nearly all plants having this characteristic receive but scanty attention from the general public, and especially so if the price is held above the average.
Martinezia caryotaefolia may be described in a general way as bearing some resemblance to Caryota urens, except that the latter is without spines, but the peculiarly wedge-shaped pinnae of the martinezia are arranged in irregular groups along the leaf stem, there being frequently from six to ten inches of bare stem between these groups of pinna3 on a large leaf. The general color of the leaves is deep green, and the habit of the plant very graceful.
This palm is not specially subject to the attacks of insects, but if scale insects are allowed to infest it they are likely to fix themselves along the stems among the thorns, where it is very difficult to dislodge them. In fact, with any of the very spiny palms it becomes a severe test of patience to eradicate scale, and the use of strong insecticides can hardly be recommended in such a case, an experience with kerosene emulsion some years ago on both martinezias and daemonorops having proved disastrous.
Regarding the cultural requirements of martinezias it may be said that they belong among the warm-house palms, and will flourish under suitable conditions for Areca lutescens, that is, temperature of 65 to 70 degrees, moderate shading and abundant moisture.
M. caryotaefolia is said to bear exposure very well as a plant for house decoration, but I have not seen it tested for such use, though a large plant of this species would undoubtedly be a very effective single specimen to be placed on a pedestal, where its spines would be out of reach of the passer-by.
W. H. T.