Plants small, usually low-growing, unarmed. Stems clustered [solitary], erect [creeping, lianoid], slender, unarmed. Leaves: sheaths tubular, unarmed, forming crownshaft; blade pinnate [undivided], with leaf segments regularly spaced along unarmed rachis, in 1 plane [many planes]; plication reduplicate; segments linear-lanceolate, apical pair of segments sometimes wider than others. Inflorescences axillary below crown of leaves, ascending, with 1 order of branching [spicate or 2 orders]; prophyll small; peduncular bracts 5–6, tubular, papery; rachillae green at anthesis, turning orange in fruit. Flowers unisexual, sessile, staminate and pistillate flowers on different plants. Staminate flowers borne singly, partially sunken into fleshy rachillae; sepals 3, briefly connate at base [distinct]; petals 3, ovate, basally briefly connate [connate by tips]; stamens 6, distinct; anthers dorsifixed; pistillode minute. Pistillate flowers borne singly, slightly sunken into fleshy rachillae; sepals 3, free; petals 3, free, ovate; staminodes 6, minute; pistil 1, 3-loculate; ovules 1 per locule; style indistinct; stigmas minute. Fruits drupes, globose; stigmatic scar basal, exocarp black, smooth; mesocarp thin; endocarp bony. Seeds globose; endosperm homogeneous; embryo subapical; eophyll 2-cleft [pinnate], segments linear. nx = 13.
Introduced; Fla., Mexico, Central America, and n South America.
Chamaedorea species are understory palms in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Many species are cultivated in North America both as houseplants and, in warm areas, as garden plants.
Species 77–100 or more (1 in the flora).