A clump-forming, short, water-loving, fast growing, dioecious, forest understorey, nonclimbing palm. Not known in cultivation, locally common in the wild. It has spiny, green stems, 6 m. (20 ft.) tall, 5 cm. (2 inch) diameter with no obvious leaf scars, and huge segmented, pinnate (feather) leaves, 4 m. (13 ft.) long, 1.2 m. (4 ft.) wide, green above and beneath. Flagella absent Cirri absent.
This is a clustering species with none climbing stems that are covered with many flat 2-5 cm long spines, in lines, with small black bristles to either side. The ocrea is over 15 cm, covered in short bristles, it begins as a tube but soon splits to form an ear on each side of the petiole. The whole leaves are 3-5 m long. Sheaths are 5-7 cm diameter and a dull green-brown. The largest leaflets are 60-80 cm x 3.5-5 cm and have one (rarely 2-5) prominent veins, with long or short bristles above. Below, the central vein may also have bristles. Margins are also bristly. Many large younger leaves are irregularly pinnate. Petiole of upper leaves is 50-150 cm long. Petiole spines are 5-15 cm, joined in combs running around the petiole. Inflorescence is erect, amongst petioles, and 0.5-1 m long with no flagellum, and highly lacerated primary bracts, covering the base of partial inflorescences. Fruit is 3-3.5 cm long and 2-2,5 cm wide. Covered in reddish brown scales with light patches, deeply channeled.
Calamus erectus can survive freezing temperatures to about -3.8°C (25°F), but freezing is best avoided. It naturally occurs in wet rainforest or seasonally wet forest in montane locations. In this type of natural environment temperature fluctuations are slight, and this palm prefers a constantly cool or mild climate with little temperature difference between day & night, and Summer & Winter. Under extreme freezing conditions we recommend you keep this palm as dry as possible, and well wrapped up.
Found in evergreen forest in Assam, Bangladesh, South-Central China, East Himalaya, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. At only 450 m in Laos and 600–1600 m in Thailand probably higher in other locations. Shoots can be eaten, but this has otherwise no commercial uses. It is new to cultivation. The species shares similarities to C. thysanolepis, and climbing rattans: C. laoensis, C. flagellum, C. rudentum and C. rhabdocladus. And especially Calamus dongnaiensis from southern Vietnam. But also with Calamus sp B that is found in one site slightly further south to C. erectus, in evergreen forest at 1300-1550 m. in Northern Thailand. This has leaflets strongly grouped, up to 40 x 2 cm. Rachis spines flat, black, in groups. Female rachillae 1-3 cm long, very thick, pressed against the branches. Fruit globose, 1.5 cm diameter, scales dark, unchannelled.
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