Golden Wax Palm
Growing to one of the highest elevations for any palm, to 3200m/10500ft,
it is the hardiest species in the genus and a most distinctive and beautiful
one with its erect, slightly arching leaves with a very regular outline,
looking as though they had been trimmed with scissors, and stiff, upward
pointing leaflets. The undersides of the leaves usually carry a thick
golden tomentum. It is definitely our favourite species within the genus
simply because of its stunning appearance. The name 'Ceroxylon utile'
has frequently been applied to plants of this species growing at high
altitudes in Colombia. C. utile has been reported to grow to altitudes
of just over 4000m/13000ft in the Andes near Volcan Chiles, located on
the border between Colombia and Ecuador. Despite a thorough search of
the area, we found no evidence of any palm growing at this altitude among
the millions (literally), of the strange Espeletia at home here. On descending,
the first palms we encountered were C. parvifrons at about 3000m/9800ft.
We believe C. utile to be identical with C. parvifrons and the altitude
of 4000m/13000ft an error. Throughout the Andes, the young leaves - and
sometimes, to reach them, entire trees - are cut for the decoration of
churches on Palm Sunday, making this palm increasingly rare in its native
habitat. C. parvifrons is practically unknown in cultivation outside Ecuador
and Colombia. We have collected a particularly large and robust form of
this extremely variable palm. Act now, it may be your last chance for
many years to come.