|Leaves of the three plants|
The fronds are popular in the floral industry for flower arrangements, Palm Sunday services and funeral decoration, as they can last up to 40 days after being cut. Estimates calculated an amount of 400 million stems exported from Guatemala and Belize to North America and Europe per year.
As there are virtually no Xaté-plantation to this day (March 2012), all Xaté on the international market is harvested by Xateros from palms in the forests of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. Xateros rely on the harvest of palm leaves. Unfortunately this has made an impact on the population of palms in the wild.
Xate, and particularly Chamaedorea ernesti-augustii (also called fishtail), has been overcollected in the forests of Guatemala and Mexico. Now xateros from Guatemala cross the Belizean border to cut the leaf.
In 2004 Axel Köhler and Tim Trench produced a documentary film called Xateros about these commercial palm leaf collectors in Chiapas' Lacandon Jungle for the Proyecto Videoastas Indigenas de la Frontera Sur.