“Potato Chip Palm” “Ruffle Palm”
Natural Habitat: Naturally found in the understory pre-mountainous rainforest of the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Veracruz, as well as Northeastern Guatemala. The difference in natural habitat has created two separate forms of this palm; one from Mexico and the other from Guatemala. It is very rare and highly endangered in habitat.
Description: A truly unique and rare palm, that is very popular among collectors for its unusual leaf shape and color pattern. The tuerckheimii is a solitary understory palm that can reach an overall height around 3 feet tall, even though some specimens tend to remain shorter and close to the ground. The leaves are undivided, ruffled, and egg shaped; similar in appearance to a ruffled potato chip, hence the common names. The tuerckheimii will develop a very slender, pencil thin green trunk with prominent gray leaf scares.
Some of the palms exhibit a mottled leaf color pattern, with shades of dark and light green mixed in together usually thought to be the Mexican form. Another form has dark green leaves with a white border along the edges, usually thought to be the Guatemala form.
Environment: The tuerckheimii is challenge to grow in most areas around the world, requiring a very specific set of environmental factors. It is not a beginners palm by any means. It enjoys a shady warm and humid area where it will be protected from strong winds and rains. It is not cold hardy and should be protected during any temperatures under 40. Zones 10b-11. If grown outside of the tropics, it should be kept in a green house or similar area where the humidity can be kept high. It can be grown well as a potted palm, but only under a veteran grower’s supervision.