Jacq. ex Scop.


Intr. Hist. Nat. 70 (1777)

Small to medium sized, monoecious palms, a few species large. Needle-like spines present, at least as minute spines along the leaf margin close to the apex of the leaf, but usually both on stems, leaf axis, and inflorescences. Stems solitary or clustered. Leaves pinnately ribbed, simple or regularly divided; pinnae linear or sigmoid, regularly inserted, or more often grouped, spreading in one or several planes. Inflorescences unbranched or once branched, with one prophyll and one, usually persistent, densely spiny peduncular bract. Flowers arranged in groups of one female and two males throughout the inflorescence branches, or the female flowers scattered and interspaced by tightly packed, paired or solitary male flowers. Male flowers with 3 connate sepals, 3 free petals, 6 stamens and a small pistillode. Female flowers with sepals connate in an annular or tubular calyx, petals connate in a tubular corolla, staminodes connate in a low ring or absent, and a trilocular ovary. Fruit small to medium sized, rarely large, green, red, or black, globose to elongate, or often flattened at apex and strongly rostrate; endocarp bony, with three germination pores at or above the middle. Seedling leaves simple and bifid, with minute spines along the distal part of outer margin.

and diversity:
A genus of more than 70 species distributed in lowland and premontane forest throughout the Neotropics, with a majority of species in the Amazon basin.
The second most species rich palm genus in Ecuador. Some of the larger species are regularly observed outside forest. Only few species have been recorded above 1000 m altitude, a single one (B. setulosa) reaches above 1500 m.

The genus includes some poorly understood species complexes, made up by several distinct morphological forms, which sometimes occur together. The situation parallels that found in other diverse understorey palm genera such as Geonoma and Aiphanes.