Small or medium sized, dioecious palms. Stems solitary or clustered, smooth, yellowish green, often with long internodes. Leaves pinnately ribbed, simple and bifid or irregularly to regularly divided; sheath, petiole and leaf rachis green and smooth; petiole channeled above; pinnae sigmoid or linear, held in one plane, each with several subequal ribs. Inflorescences single or multiple at the nodes, unbranched or once branched, with one prophyll and several peduncular bracts. Flowers sessile, borne singly. Male flowers with 3 nearly free sepals, 3 free or variously united petals, 6 stamens, and a small pistillode. Female flowers with 3 free sepals, 3 united petals, and 3 united carpels. Fruits small to medium sized, globose, smooth, black or red. Seedling leaves simple and bifid.
and diversity: The most species rich palm genus in the Neotropics with 105 species. The majority of these occur in Central America, but some also in the Andes plus adjacent areas, at elevations up to 2500 m.
Resembles Synechanthus in several respects but differs from that genus in being dioecious.
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