Desmoncus polyacanthos

Desmoncus polyacanthos


Hist. nat. palm. 2: 85 (1824)

Subcanopy reaching liana. Stems solitary or clustered, to 10 m long, 1-2 cm in diameter. Leaves 1-2 m long; rachis with numerous short, recurved spines; pinnae 8-13 on each side, more or less evenly spaced, ovate-elliptic, 15-35 cm long and 3-6 cm wide; the distal half of the rachis with 4-7 pairs of pinnae transformed into climbing hooks, each hook 3-7 cm long. Inflorescence 70-80 cm long, with ca. 15, short branches. Fruit red, obovate, flat at apex, 15-20 mm long.

Widespread in W South America, from Venezuela to Bolivia, at low elevations.

The species is recognised by its recurved, hook-like spines on the leaf rachis and cirrhus, and entire, spiny leaf sheathes (net-like tattering in D. giganteus). Two varieties are recognised. The Ecuadorian plants belong to var. prunifer (Mart.) A. J. Hend., distributed in the W part of the Amazon region. It differs from var. polyacanthos in its larger fruits, 15-23 mm long.