Linnaea 28: 407 (1856)
Understorey palm. Stems clustered, often forming large colonies, 1.5-6 m tall and 1.5-4 cm in diameter. Leaves with central axis green, becoming glabrous, armed with scattered black spines to 5 cm long; blade 70-175 cm long, simple, or more often pinnate, usually with a large top segment; pinnae 5-26 on each side, inserted in groups and spreading in one plane, the central ones 30-75 cm long, 3.5-10 cm wide, usually with asymetrical apex ending in a long tail, lined with small spines along the margins. Inflorescence 20-40 cm long; branches 10-20, 5-20 cm long. Female flowers scattered along the branches, with tubular calyx, glabrous or minutely bristly corolla, and no staminodial ring. Fruit black, smooth, obovoid, flattened at top, usually strongly rostrate, 2-2.5 cm in diameter, fruiting perianth with a short calyx, and a much longer, usually three-parted corolla.
Coastal mountains in Venezuela and south along the Andes and in the W Amazon region to S Peru.
In Ecuador it is frequent in moist tropical and premontane forest east of the Andes, sometimes forming very large groups in swampy areas, whereas it tends to form smaller groups or even single-stemmed individuals on well drained soil.
A polymorphic and poorly understood species, defined by having the combination of a green, nearly glabrous leaf axis; a petiole with numerous spines on its adaxial side (i.e., the side facing the stem); and black, more or less smooth fruits without a staminodial ring. Small palms from terra firme forest with large fruits, to 3 cm long, and few, strongly grouped sigmoid pinnae pointing in different directions may represent an undescribed species.
(B. Bergmann #97843).
(H.B. Pedersen #97642).
(H.B. Pedersen #97608 and additional references).
(H.B. Pedersen #97652).
Fruits are edible
(H.B. Pedersen #97608).
The hard endosperm is edible
(H. Balslev #4870).
The stem is used as a spear in lack of other materials
(B. Bergmann #97823).
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