Greek calamos – reed, in reference to the cane-like stems.
Mostly climbing, shrubby, solitary or clustering, spiny palms. Stems slender, cane-like, often prickly. Crownshaft absent. Leaves feather-shaped, in some species with long, barbed, whip-like tip (flagellum) which sometimes also occurs on the leaf sheath: both leaves and sheaths are generally prickly. Leaflets with single midrib, pointed. Leaf stalks absent to well developed, spiny. Flowers unisexual and on separate plants. Panicles arising in the leaf axils, long, spiny or with hooks. Fruit with overlapping scales, containing 1 seed.
A large and variable genus. Few species are cultivated because of their spiny nature. Some species are extremely decorative and make ornamental container plants.
In many SE Asian countries the stems of Calamus species are cut, cleaned, dried and used to make baskets and furniture. Some species have edible flesh around the seed.
Fresh seed germinates readily but the period of viability is often very short.
Clustering palms with slender stems; feather-shaped leaves and specialised entangling devices to gain support in surrounding vegetation.
About 375 species, almost pantropical, but particularly Asia and SE Asia.
Source: (2005). Arecaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 5. Flowering plants. Monocotyledons. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.