Hist. nat. palm. 2: 93 (1826)
Understorey palm. Stems clustered, to 5 m tall and 3 cm in diameter. Spines on the leaf sheath and axis pale yellow to whitish grey, broad, and flat. Leaf blade 0.5-1.5 m long; pinnae 5-25 on each side, sigmoid, inserted in groups and spreading in different planes, the middle ones 15-50 cm long and 4.5-9 cm wide. Inflorescence 15-30 cm long; branches ca. 10, to 10 cm long, 2-3 mm in diameter. Female flowers scattered along the branches. Fruit black, flattened at top, rostrate, smooth or rough, 1-2 cm in diameter; fruiting perianth with a 3 lobed calyx ca. half as long as the deeply 3-lobed, usually minutely bristly corolla; staminodial ring absent.
Widespread from Central America to Bolivia, on both sides of the Andes.
In Ecuador it is fairly common E of the Andes, usually on terra firme, and in the NW, where it occurs in periodically flooded land dominated by Euterpe oleracea.
A polymorphic species divided into four varieties (Henderson, 2000).
The Ecuadorian plants belong to var. maraja.
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