Walking Palms of the Amazon

February 13, 2013
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The walking palm – or stilt palm - is a very common palm tree found in the lowland forests of Central and Northern South America, including the Peruvian Amazon. The tree gets its name from it tall, spiny root system that may be upwards of five feet in height, appearing like multiple legs.  While the tree obviously cannot move, the walking palm may lean toward a light filtering through a gap in the canopy, as the crown of the 50–60 foot high tree seeks light. 

This palm provides fruit that is eaten by a number of animals and the palm trunk is used by local people in the construction of their huts. The palm tree is cut down and the trunk is split. The split trunk is used for floors and walls in the thatched roof huts of the riberenos living along the river. As Amazon cruise guests walk along forest trails, IE’s naturalist guides will point out various flora, including the walking palm. The tree typically draws attention as it is very unlike any other palm tree in the region.  Close inspection reveals the spines on the exposed roots and it would not be wise to fall into one nor lean on it as the spine punctures on human skin frequently result in infection.
 

 


Naturalist Greg Greer is a favorite among IE travelers, and has gained a reputation for his friendliness and good humor, along with his incomparable knowledge of natural history, photos and articles have been widely published in books and magazines, including Georgia Outdoor News, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Alabama Outdoor News, Riversedge and Southern Wildlife.