Samml. Deutch. Abh. Königl. Akad. Wiss. Berlin 1803: 250 (1806)




Aiphanes aculeata Willd.

Small to medium sized, rarely large palms armed with slender needle-like spines. Stems solitary or clustered. Leaves pinnate, or in one species simple; pinnae (or entire blade) jagged at the outer margin, often obtriangular, fish tail shaped. Inflorescence elongate, usually once branched, more rarely simple or branched 2 times; peduncle elongate, with one prophyll and one slender, peduncular bract. Flowers unisexual, borne in groups of one female and two males, or distally on the branches in pairs of male flowers. Male flowers with 3 sepals, 3 free petals, 6 stamens, and a tiny pistillode. Female flowers with 3 free sepals, 3 petals united in the basal half, 6 staminodes united into a short, usually dentate or lobed tube, and a 3-locular ovary. Fruits globose, small or rarely medium sized, usually red at maturity. Seedling leaves simple and bifid, with jagged outer margin.

and diversity:
A genus of 22 species distributed from Panama and Venezuela to Bolivia along the Andes.
Eleven species are native to Ecuador, and one additional species has been introduced from Colombia. Most are typical of primary forest, where they usually occur at low densities. Four Ecuadorian taxa are considered vulnerable or endagered.


Aiphanes, together with Acrocomia, Gastrococos, Astrocaryum, Bactris and Desmoncus, make up the subtribe Bactridinae, a group of spiny Neotropical palms within the subfamily Cocoeae. Aiphanes is unique in the combination of wedge shaped pinnae and protandrous inflorescences.