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Astrocaryum alatum

Coquillo Palm

Taking its name from the star-shaped markings on the seed, Astrocaryum is one of the spiniest palms in the world. So, if you are committed to non-spiny palms, you may like to skip this one! For those made of sterner stuff, however, and ignoring for the moment its fierce armament, this native of montane forests in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama is surely a most handsome palm. It has a crown of strongly arching leaves with closely inserted, very wide leaflets, which makes the leaves appear almost simple and undivided in the manner of Verschaffeltia or Phoenicophorium, presenting a truly remarkable sight. The leaves are deep green above and grayish-white below, adding to its exotic character. Now, then, about those spines. . . While there is no getting away from the fact that it is, well, really spiny, if it is handled and sited with care, its wonderful tropical appearance is a delight. Rich soil, sun or shade, and much water will keep it happy. The Coquillo Palm will not take more than a few degrees of frost, but it tolerates cool conditions very well and will be successful in subtropical and of course all tropical climates.

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germination comments by our visitors
For general germination instructions click here.

Also see plant cultivation comments below.

Seeds from this species ...

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Soaked the seeds in nitrozyme for 1 day, except for 1 seed wich germinated on the way to my mailbox. That one was potted up at once. The remaining 9 seeds were put in a closed box with neemcoir, half burried. They germinated within a few weeks. I still have 10 plants succesfull growing (about one year later now), and they grow pretty fast with spines showing even before the first leaf folds out.
Submitted on 22/03/2009 by one of our visitors

...very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Seeds germinated very easily. 6 of 10 seeds so far. Half burried seeds ,germinated in coco peat kept at 32 degrees C. Allow a larger germinating container as initial root growth spreads fast. First seed germinated within 2 weeks of receiving seeds , the rest were sporadic over 2 - 3 months.
Submitted on 13/03/2005 by Jason Cox kamipalms@netscape.net

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Very easy to germinate, soaked the 10 seeds in water for three days and planted them in potting soil, withing 2 weeks two seeds had sprouted, the other eight were eaten by insects, one was attacked and eaten by insects as well, the other seedling is now, 14th of January 2005, approximately 10 cm. high, with all thorns visible and already very beautiful.I am certainly going to try again as soon as seeds are availlable.Hedy, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.hedy@iwayafrica.com
Submitted on 14/01/2005 by one of our visitors

...very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Of all Seed of 3 eyed Cocoeae tribe germinating these wonderful large shiny black shelled Astrocaryum alatum has been a wonderful 90 % within 3 month experience for me. "Bag Method" easy 30 Deg C. I transplanted into potting mix as soon as root was 30mm long in (deep 300mm pot) as fear of rotting from others experiences worried me. I experienced no Rot. One can tell when they are going to germinate as Belly button eye on the seed begins to protrude two weeks before the root emerges. Subsequent growth is rapid and strong with hairy seedling like a small cactus. I only received one plant per seed although 3 is possible. I keenly watch hoping for other germinations beside in the time ahead. I can honestly recommend coquillo whole heartedly as from my batch of 24 varieties from rarepalmseeds these out preformed everything else. Fresh seed is essential for quick results or from Dry seed one may have to sit around for 5 years waiting with cocoeae.
Submitted on 11/12/2004 by David Herbert rocmade@iinet.net.au

...very difficult to germinate.
No luck with this one so far. I'll keep trying.
Submitted on 04/03/2004 by Vincie Bowen alaye_98@yahoo.com

...very easy to germinate.
Out of 10 seeds received 3 germinated in transit! 4th seed germinated after 4 weeks of sowing in slightly moist peat. Remaining 6 seeds were discarded after 7 months of waiting - they appeared unlikely to germinate. Subsequent seedling growth is very fast and robust, just rich well drained soil and regular watering. Fantastic palm.
Submitted on 25/06/2003 by Sergei Leonov serileonov@hotmail.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
50% germinated quickly. I could not get the remaining seeds to germinate. Grows fast and looks great when grown in shade. Serious thorns! This palm seems to be very susceptible to wind damage. Find a sheltered area!
Submitted on 12/01/2003 by one of our visitors

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Surprisingly easy to germinate - some germinated within a week, and 75% germinated within the first month. Very fast growing, with the little thorns showing up right away.
Submitted by one of our visitors

...difficult to germinate and need up to 1 year to sprout.
I have had limited success with the Coquillo Palm seeds probably because I don't have the proper facilities. I have attempted to germinate the seeds that I purchased, the Coquillo and many others, two different ways: Pots where the seeds are about halfway under the soil. I also tried the suggestions on the web site with paet moss in bags, but no luck so far. How specific are the environmental stimuli needed for germination? What are the temperature requirements, etc..? Where can I find the answers to all of the needs for Palm seed germinating. I will attempt to use small amounts of gibberelic acid in a solution to enhance or stimulate germination.
Submitted by Drew Johnson DrewJohnson88@aol.com

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plant cultivation comments by our visitors
Also see germination commnets above.

Plants from this species ...

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If you wish to read more on palm cultivation, we highly recommend Ornamental Palm Horticulture by Timothy K. Broschat and Alan W. Meerow, available in our bookshop.

Ratings and comments reflect individual experiences and the views of our visitors. They do not necessarily describe the most appropriate methods, nor are they necessarily valid for all seeds or plants of this species. Germination and plant cultivation success depends on many different factors; nevertheless, these experiences will hopefully aid you in your effort to get the best germination results from our seeds and the best growth results from your plants.

We recommend:
The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft, Scott Zona

2nd edition
Completely revised and updated

Hardcover - 528 pages
11 x 8.5 inches

Our rating:
Suitable for: all

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is the definitive account of all palms that can be grown for ornamental and economic use. Palms are often underutilized as a result of their unfamiliarity—even to tropical gardeners. To help introduce these valuable plants to a new audience, the authors have exhaustively documented every genus in the palm family.
825 species are described in detail, including cold hardiness, water needs, height, and any special requirements. Generously illustrated with more than 900 photos, including photos of several palm species that have never before appeared in a general encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is as valuable as an identification guide as it is a practical handbook. Interesting snippets of history, ethnobotany, and biology inform the text and make this a lively catalog of these remarkable plants.

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