Chamaedorea cataractarum

Common name

cat palm, cascade palm


Stems: Clustering, creeping stems, to 2 m tall and up to 4 cm in diameter, branching at the base to form large clumps. Leaves: Pinnate, reduplicate, to 30 cm long, with linear to lanceolate leaflets evenly spaced along the rachis, slightly drooping and spreading in a single plane. Upper and lower leaflet surfaces are green, without spines or obvious tomentum. Flowers and fruits: Pendulous, about 0.5 m long, branched to one order with up to 15 branches. Yellowish male and female flowers are borne on different plants. The oblong or ovoid fruits (6-8 mm in diameter and 1 cm long) are black when ripe.

Diagnostic features

Field: Clustering, creeping palms, to 2 m tall with black fruit

Lab: Yellowish midrib and two secondary veins prominent on undersurface of leaflets

May be confused with

Other Chamaedorea species, but few others have a clumping habit. Chamaedorea radicalis is similar, but has longer leaves and the leaflets have no prominent secondary veins. Chamaedorea microspadix has a clumping habit, but red fruit.


Native to Mexico, along the Atlantic slope, often growing at stream or river edges

Additional comments

Commonly cultivated in Hawaii and Florida; reported to be naturalized in Hawaii

Scientific name

Chamaedorea cataractarum Mart.




Chamaedorea atrovirens Hort. ex H.Wendl.

Chamaedorea martiana H.Wendl.

Nunnezharria cataractarum (Mart.) Kuntze

Nunnezharria martiana (H.Wendl.) Kuntze

Stachyophorbe cataractarum (Mart.) Klotzsch

Vadia atrovirens (Mart.) O.F.Cook

Vadia jotolana O.F.Cook

Last Updated May 2014