A genuine, hand-woven Panama Hat is made from the straw known locally in Ecuador as Paja Toquilla which comes from the leaves of Carludovica Palmata. Sometimes incorrectly called a palm, the Carludovica Palmata is a tropical cloud forest plant indigenous to elevated regions close to the Ecuadorian coast.
In the late 18th century José Pavon and Hipolito Ruiz, botanists from the royal gardens in Madrid, named the plant Carludovica Palamata, a merging of the names of King Carlos IV of Spain and his wife Ludovica. 149 new plant species were presented in Europe at this same time. The majority were named after great men of Europe and Carludovica Palmata was the only plant to be named, in part, after a woman.
Pachacuti’s Panama Hats are made from organically-grown Carludovica Palmata cultivated on a community-owned plantation which encourages biodiversity of plants and animals within a 5600 hectare protected area. The community has been working hard to protect their area of land and to increase sustainability and biodiversity in the area. They are now seeing a lot more birds and animals in the area such as toucans, armadillos and monkeys, as well as the odd tarantula.