This section is from the book "The Florists' Manual", by William Scott. Also available from Amazon: The Florist's Manual.
Though frequently considered among palms and grown with them, yet this handsome foliage plant, is not a palm, being more nearly related to the pan-danus family. C. atrovirens has been in cultivation for many years, but does not appear to have become common in the trade on this side of the ocean and as a matter of fact is seldom met with outside of private collections.
C. atrovirens is a stemless or nearly stemless plant of bushy habit, the leaves of which are bifid, plaited somewhat like those of a curculigo, and very dark green, as indicated by the specific name.
This plant grows freely in a warm house and is not hard to please in the matter of compost, but makes more rapid growth in light, rich soil with good drainage, the latter point being the more necessary from the fact that an abundant supply of water is needed for its welfare.
Propagation may be effected by seeds when these are obtainable, but more often depends on division, as C. atrovirens produces suckers freely, and by washing out the roots these suckers may be separated from the parent plant without difficulty and soon become established plants.
The carludovicas are said to be natives only of tropical South America, where a number of handsome species ha3 been found, one of which, C. pal-mata, possesses additional interest on account of its leaves furnishing the material for the so-called Panama hats, those luxuries of summer dress that are unfortunately beyond the purse of the average florist. But we may be permitted to grow a plant of Carludovica pal-mata and by exercising the imagination we may see the patient South American native selecting one large young leaf, carefully removing the stiff veins or ribs from it, then slitting it into narrow strips and finally plaiting it into a shapely head cover without separating the strips at the stem end. Such ingenuity deserves a proper financial reward, but in all probability the larger portion of the profit is secured by the European or American hatter who ultimately retails the product. W. H. T.