Stem 8-21 m tall, 19-30 cm in diam., internodes covered with thin layers of wax, white at the base, grey to brown towards the apex. Leaves 17-25 in hemispheric crown; sheath 75-125 cm long, densely covered with thick, eventually deciduous tomentum of white scales; petiole 10-30 cm long, 4.5-7.0 cm wide apically; rachis 194-270 cm long, adaxially flattened in part of its length, twisted 90° on distal portion thereby holding the pinnae in a vertical position, abaxial surface covered with an indumentum resembling that of the petiole; pinnae 90-110 on each side, regularly arranged in one plane, horizontal to slightly pendulous, in the latter case forming an angle (abaxially) close to 75°, apical pinnae 24-31 x 0.5-1.0 cm, usually free, rarely united along the margins. Fruits globose, orange-red when ripe, 1.6-2.0 cm diam., exocarp with raised lenticels appearing as scattered warts. Seeds ca. 1 cm diam. C. alpinum is characterized by its regularly arranged, horizontal pinnae, inflorescence axes with reddish indumentum, staminate flowers with large and exserted anthers with a projected connective, and a warty fruit exocarp, with raised lenticels.
Fruiting season seems to be March and April of every other year. The vast majority of the montane forest within the range of this species has been destroyed or fragmented by coffee plantations or pastures. This species is Endangered, it is estimated that natural populations have been reduced more than 80% in the last 210 years. The maximum age of palm individuals growing under natural conditions is 160 years and up to 213 years. On average they developed an aerial stem at the approximate age of 57 years and started flowering when they were approximately 83 years old.
Nativo para, Colombia, Venezuela
Premontane wet forest from 1400 to 2000 m, in the Andes of Venezuela (Distrito Federal, on the northwestern slopes of the Cordillera de La Costa, Aragua, and Tachira) and Colombia (western slope of the Eastern Cordillera, and eastern and western slopes of the Central and Western Cordilleras).