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Carludovica palmata - Panama hat plant / Toquilla palm


Native to:



From southern Mexico and Central America to Bolivia and Peru.

Moist, mixed, mountain rainforests or lowlands. Up to 1300 meters above sea level. 2 meters tall.

Carludovica palmata - Panama hat plant / Toquilla palm

Ecological value:

Its female flowers (which mature first) have large stigmas, and its male flowers (which mature later) have a lot of pollen. They reproduce vegetatively, because they do not produce viable seeds. Prefers shade, pollen dispersed by beetles.

Material uses:

Fiber from stems. Notable for its strength, durability, and flexibility. Used to weave Panama hats, baskets and mats. Used for making brooms. The leaves can be used as emergency umbrellas and as roof thatching.

Edible uses:

Leaves, shoot tips and roots can be eaten raw or cooked. The fruit produces a sensation of lots of small needles stuck to the skin.

Medicinal use:

No record on this species.

Other details:

Leaves ready to harvest at 7 years. Suckered leaves at 18 months. Despite it's name, Panama hats are made in Ecuador. Often grown as an ornamental species. Belongs to a genus of four species, native to the Americas: C. druei, C. palmata, C. rotundifolia and C. sulcata.


Harry Gomez Moron/Christine Facella


“Carludovica Palmata Ruiz & Pav. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 28, 2023.
“Carludovica Palmata - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d. Accessed November 28, 2023.
Uphof. J. C. Th., ‘Dictionary of Economic Plants’, Weinheim, 1959
Facciola. S., ‘Cornucopia II’, Kampong Publications, California, 1998
“Carludovica.” 2023. Wikipedia. November 20, 2023.
Image source: Forest & Kim Starr and Hans Hillewaert

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