Chamaedorea, the family name of a group of (ornamental) palms, originates from Mexico. The plants are grown from seed and there is a high demand for the popular plant. So where does a grower get the seeds? The short answer: from a seed merchant. A big supplier of seeds for a number of years now is Tropical Seeds, and they specialize in hard to get varieties.
That also applies to the Chamaedorea, the seeds of which you can only get in Mexico or Brazil. Tropical Seeds, the company run by the brothers Arthur and Anton Spruit, has a few suppliers in Mexico, a country they visit once a year. They recently returned from their latest visit.
"The indigenous plants of the Chamaedorea are found exclusively in a few regions in Mexico. That has to do with the fertilization of the plant, which occurs thanks to a small fly that only lives there. You can't just drop by and buy what you need in a shop. These plants grow on hills and in the woods, which are often owned by different families and villages. These families earn their living from the trade in seeds, from the palms, but also from different fruit trees and coffee plants."
Arthur visits the suppliers and discusses the quality and quantity of the seeds, the soil, forest, cultivation and also marketing. Obviously the environment and climate change is an important theme among suppliers of seeds. "For them, the forest is their primary source of income, but not as timber. They live from what we call 'non-timber forest production'. That maintains the forest. The Chamaedorea is a good example of this. The plant grows under trees and once a year seeds are harvested."
Harvesting seeds is done manually. The trade in Chamaedorea has become such an important source of income, that the economic value of the palms is also recognized by the Mexican government. "The Mexican government has signed a deal with the local producers, promising to buy up unsold seeds. These seeds are then planted in nearby forests, as an investment in the future. In this way our business contributes to the local economy, provides a living for the local population and boosts sustainable forest management."
Searching for Chamaedorea in Mexican forests
Tropical Seeds BV