Distribution, habitat and population biology


The fishtail palm occurs in:

  • Mexico
  • Guatemala
  • Belize

It tends to occur on lime-rich soils over a limestone bedrock.


Populations of this species are typically found in the understorey of rainforest.

Increasingly, however, seeds of the fishtail palm are being harvested in the wild and plantations established to increase economic productivity.

Population biology

In the wild, fishtail populations typically have a natural abundance of around 100-200 individuals per hectare.

Genetic studies suggest that there is a high degree of inbreeding within populations. This might be due to:

  • periods of habitat fragmentation related to forest clearance by the Maya
  • climate change dating back 10,000 years