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Origin and Habitat: Copernicia alba is found in a wide open area of South America in the humid part of the Gran Chaco ecoregion in Bolivia, Paraguay, Colombia, Brazil (in the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul) and Argentina (especially the province of Formosa, and less abundantly towards drier areas).
Altitude: 50 to 100 m above sea level
Habitat: It is widespread and common on heavy impermeable soil in the floodplains of big rivers (Paraná, Paraguay and Bermejo), a large plateau that ranges from in areas mostly humid savannas and flooded areas in which it is the only dominant overstory specie and where it often forms large monospecific stands called “palmares” interspersed with grassland. Much of these grassland remains under water after a heavy rainfall and in some parts dries out only in the winter months. It is estimated that Copernicia alba far outweigh the 500 million copies. The region is characterized by relatively high rainfall varying with longitude, from 1500 mm/annum in the east and decreasing to 750 in the West. The absolute temperatures can exceed 42º C in summer and minimum down to -5º C in winter with an annual average of 22º C. The dry season often with prolonged drought correspond to the the winter (between June and August) and fires, both natural and man caused, are common in the grassland and savannah. After the fires, palms lose their dead leaves and the remains of leaf sheaths and stems are smooth but the plant does not die. In some cases (quite common) the bud is damaged, and the palm branches. The rains occur in the warm season during the months of October to April.
- Copernicia alba Morong
Copernicia alba Morong
Ann. New York Acad. Sci. 7: 246 (1893)
- Copernicia alba Morong
- Copernicia australis Becc.
- Copernicia nigra Morong
- Copernicia ramulosa Burret
- Copernicia rubra Morong
- Coryphomia tectorum Rojas Acosta
ENGLISH: Caranday wax palm, Wax palm, Chaco palm tree, Caranday palm
CHINESE (中文): Bai ba xi la zong
FRENCH (Français): Caranday, Ananachícarí
GUARANI (Avañe’ẽ): Caranday, Karanda'y
LITHUANIAN (Lietuvių): Baltoji kopernicija
PORTUGUESE (Português): Carandá (Brazil)
SPANISH (Español): Ananachícarí, Carandaí, Carandaa, Queic, Palma negra (Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay), Caranda, Palmera caranday, Palma blanca (Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay), Palma espinillo, Palma colorada (Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay), Caranday
Description: Copernicia alba is a very attractive small palm. Its fronds have a silver or blue cast that nicely contrasts with its chocolate brown stem.
Trunk: Solitary, slender, cylindrical, rarely bifurcated, up to 13(-25?) m in height (usually 7-9 m in cultivation) and 20-25(-40) cm in girth, Stems of younger individuals are covered with old leaf bases; older palms with smooth, columnar stems ringed by faint leaf scars. The trunk is highly ornamental when trimmed with the short, unsplit leave bases dotting it.
Crown: Spherical very ornamental and orderly, glaucous colouring at the bottom keeping the dead leaves and debris infructescenses. Can have more than 500 leaves!
Leaves: Persistent, palmate, induplicate, with heavy wax and grouped at the apex of the trunk. Petiole 1,2 to 1,3 m eleongated, wide at its middle, armed with with around 18 incredibly, viciously sharp, curved teeth and not split at the base. Hastula small, slightly upturned crescent adaxially. Blade more or less circular up to75-80(-100) cm across; segments 30-35 induplicates, slightly forked, stiff, each 35-40 cm long and 4-5 cm wide glaucous green above, waxy grey to silver in the the undersurface; leaf tips, bifid. The sinus can penetrate up to 75-80% of limb.
Leaf midribs prominent on the underside; transverse veins are not obvious. Pale tan to buff coloured woolly tomentum along base of leaf blade and midribs.
Inflorescence Multiple, interfoliar and erect, standing out from the leaf crown, almost 2 m long, feathery, longer than leaves and much branched.
Flowers: Hermaphroditic, about 4 mm long, with a tubular yellowish green or pale cream-coloured corolla, solitary or grouped, and arranged in a spiral pattern. Sepals 3, petals 3, stamens 6, monadelphous, coupled in turn with the corolla. Each flower has three ovaries, of which only one develops into a fruit.
Fruit: Sub-globose or oval fleshy berry, green and covered by a yellow-white tomentum turning dark green to almost black plump and smooth, losing the youthful tomentum when mature. The infructescenses hanging by the weight of the fruit, protruding from the crown. Copernicia alba blooms twice during the season.
Seed: Light-brown, ovoid 1,2-2 cm in diameter and 9-17 mm long with abundant white and homogeneous endosperm.
Bibliography: 1) Michelle E Cisz “The Spatial Distribution of Copernicia Alba (Morong) in the District of Bahia Negra, Paraguay.” BiblioBazaar, 2012
2) John Renshaw "The Indians of the Paraguayan Chaco: Identity and Economy” U of Nebraska Press, 2002. Page 36
3) “Libro del Árbol: Especies Forestales Indígenes de la Argentina de Aplicación Industrial” (edited by Celulosa Argentina S. A., Buenos Aires, October 1975)
4) Morello, J. y J. Adámoli, “Vegetación y ambiente del nordeste del Chaco argentino”, Boletín Nº3, IX Jornadas Botánicas Argentinas, EEA Colonia Benítez, 1967.
5) Morello, J. y Adámoli, J., “Las grandes unidades de vegetación y ambiente del Chaco argentino”, Primera parte: Objetivos y metodología, Serie fitogeográficaNº10, Buenos Aires, INTA, 1968, 125 pp.
6) Morello, J. y J. Adámoli, “Las grandes unidades de vegetación y ambiente del Chaco argentino”, Segunda parte: Vegetación y ambiente de la Provincia del Chaco, Serie fitogeográfica Nº13, Buenos Aires, INTA, 1974, 130 pp.
7) Markley , K. S 1955 “Caranday A source of palm wax”. Principes 9: pp 39-52
8) Moraes Monica R. 1991 “Contribucion al ciclo biologico de la palma Copernicia alba en un area ganadera“ (Espiritu, Beni, Bolivia). Ecologia en Bolivia Nro 18 pp 1-20
9) Ragonese A. E. y Covas G. 1942 “Flora de la Provincia de Santa Fe – Las Palmeras” Darwiniana, t.4 (2-3) pp.285-302
10) Cabrera Mirta M. 2006 “Caracterización polínica de las mieles de la Provincia de Formosa – Argentina” Rev. Mus. Argentino Cienc. Nat. n.s. 8(2) pp 135-142
11) Salgado C. 2006. “Flora melífera en la Provincia del Chaco” Editor PROSAP Impreso por Ministerio de la Producción, Provincia del Chaco.
12) Ortiz Rafael. “Recursos forestales y cambio en el uso de la tierra –Paraguay"
13) Broschat, T. K. and H. M. Donselman. 1984a. "Root regeneration in transplanted palms." Principes 28: 90-91.
14) Broschat, T.K. and H.M. Donselman. 1984b. "Regrowth of severed palm roots." J. Arboric. 10: 238-240
15) Parodi Lorenzo R. – Dimitri, Milan J. 1987 “Enciclopedia Argentina de Agricultura y Jardineria” Tomo I p 187. Tercera edición
16) José Grassía 2010 "Copernicia alba (English)" http://palmasenresistencia.blogspot.it/2010/10/copernicia-alba-english.html Accesed on 18 Jan 2023
Cultivation and Propagation: This is an excellent palm adapt to a wide range of conditions in the tropics, subtropicas and warm temperate region, and does well in cultivation. If the boots are properly pruned and shaped, it is a fantastic addition to any landscape.
Growth rate Though it is easily the fastest growing of the Copernicias, that is a relative term... it is still a slow palm especially as a seedling, but once established will grow quite fast.
Soil requirements: It is not particular for the soil, provided perfectly draining and fertile even if it prefers the alkaline or neutral ones. However it is widely adaptable and can even thrives in poor soils, but do better when grown in nutrient-rich soils with regular watering.
Watering: It may resist to drought periods, but it profits of regular watering especially in the warmest periods.
Light: It adapts well to full sun or half sun.
Fertilization: Need a perfect fertilizer diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements. It is subject to potassium deficiency.
Aerosol salt tolerance: It is moderately salt tolerant, but does a lot better inland then it does on the coast.
Hardiness: This species is the coldest hardy of the genus Copernicia, coming to withstand low temperatures from -5 to -7 ° C without any damage (USDA Zones 9-11). It may also survive in the warm Mediterranean micro-climate but growth is slow.
Wind hardiness: It can tolerate sweltering heat and moderately windy conditions.
Ornamental use: It is of particular ornamental and landscape value due to the robust stems and the thick top with the rigid leaves; ideal for lining wide avenues, or utilized as isolated specimen or in group, in parks and very wide gardens in the tropical and subtropical climate zones.
Food uses: It furnish many foodstuffs; the heart, shoot and seeds are eaten and the sap can be made into a wine.
Other uses: Copernicia alba is an important source of wax but cannot compete commercially with carnauba (Copernicia prunifera). Ancient peoples in South America used wax palm for making candles by scraping away wax on the leaves.
Young specimens have a lightweight semi-hard wood, which becomes hard and heavier in grown-up individuals. The logs are used primarily for farm buildings, fence posts, drinking fountains, tile roofing, corrals and shackles, poles for power lines and phones. With the leaves are woven baskets, hats, lampshades and hand-fans. The extensive time of the blooms is used by honey producers to obtain high quality single-flower honeys and purity, which place their hives in the palm area. Also plant pots are made with Carandai palm trunks for both domestic market and for export to Europe. Leaves are used for the manufacture of handicrafts like hats, bags, brushes, baskets, purses, fans, lampshades, and many other articles. The leaves are removing for thatch too. In Paraguay Copernicia alba is currently studied for its suitability as a Biodiesel oil crop.
Disease & Pests: It is quite resistant to pests but may require regular fertilization to prevent yellowing caused by potassium deficiencies; protect against frost.
Warning: It has some incredibly, sharp teeth along its petioles that can shred your skin easily, so beware when trimming.
Propagation: It reproduces by seed which germinate in about 30-45 days if the harvest is ripe Remove the exocarp and mesocarp and clean seeds soaking in water at normal temperature for 5-7 days. Sow in peat or sand in seedbeds of not less than 10 cm deep. The recommended temperature is between 30º C and 35º C; the growth initially is rather slow. Transplanting carefully into individual container when the aerophilic emerges. If not properly treated, the seed does not have long shelf life.
Transplantation: In colture it is advisable to grow in pots as when planting in the soil the palm develops a large, very sensitive, root system that does not tolerate unrest transplantation. However it may completely rebuild their root system when is extracted to the field passing passing several years for root system regeneration. Before extraction, making severe pruning of the crown of leaves. The difficulties of this specie in the adult transplant severely restricts its use as an ornamental. However, resistance to cold, drought, floods and poor soils, makes a palm Copernicia alba ideal for those locations of climates and growing conditions difficult and justify the efforts to cultivate and transplant.
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