| Desmoncus (dehs-MON-koohs) |
Brazil. Photo by Dr. Andrew J. Henderson/Palmweb.
Habitat and Distribution
Desmoncus mitis is found in Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil West-Central, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Widespread in the W Amazon region, from Venezuela to Bolivia, below 1000 m elevation.
Understory liana (climbing). Stem solitary.
Palm 2.7 (0.7-8.5) m tall; stems 0.6 (0.3-1.1) cm diameter. Leaf petioles 3.9 (0.5-10.5) cm long; rachises 30.4 (8.0-76.0) cm long, 2.3 (1.1-3.8) mm wide, the spines usually <1 cm long, mostly abaxial, recurved with markedly swollen bases; pinnae 8 (2-25) per side of rachis, without a beard of spines at the bases, with uneven surfaces at the bases adaxially, usually covered with spinules and/or dense tomentum; basal pinna 12.3 (3.5- 27.5) cm long, 2.5 (0.2-6.5) cm wide; cirri well-developed, with acanthophylls, or cirri poorly-developed, the rachis terminating in a short cirrus, acanthophylls present or absent, or cirri absent, the rachis terminating beyond the distalmost pair of pinnae in a short ?stub?, with few spines abaxially, mostly on proximal part only (rarely, when cirri poorly-developed, without spines), with no intermediate acanthophylls present, usually with a wide gap between pinnae and acanthophylls (i.e., gap wider than that between adjacent acanthophylls). Inflorescences with the rachis smooth, not twisted, narrower than the few, distantly spaced and alternate rachillae, each rachilla usually briefly adnate proximally to the rachis and with an irregular bracteole displaced onto the rachis, with or without an axillary pulvinus; peduncles 1.2 (0.6-3.1) mm wide; peduncular bracts 24.2 (14.6-37.0) cm long, narrow, elongate, ribbed, scarcely brown tomentose, without spines (rarely with few spines); rachillae 5 (3-7), glabrous or scarcely tomentose initially; proximal rachillae 5.3 (2.0-9.0) cm long, 0.8 (0.5-1.5) mm wide; stamens 6; fruits 10.9 (8.9-15.7) mm long, 7.1 (5.5-10.9) mm wide, fruit surfaces uneven with numerous, subepidermal, short, often branching (Y-shaped) fibers; fruiting corollas splitting irregularly into 3 lobes, the lobes often splitting again; endocarps narrowly ellipsoid with rounded apices, the pores lateral. (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.
Subspecific variation:-Specimens occur in the western and central Amazon region in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. Based on geography, as well as sheaths, number of pinnae, and cirri development, it is possible to recognize four subgroups-one from subAndean regions of southern Peru and Bolivia having finely and densely spiny sheaths, numerous, linear or lanceolate pinnae, and well-developed cirri; the second from the western Amazon region, mostly from the southwestern Amazon region of Brazil but also in adjacent Peru and Bolivia having non- or scarcely spiny sheaths, few, ovate pinnae, and poorlydeveloped cirri; the third from the western Amazon region of Peru and in adjacent Colombia and Brazil having non-spiny sheaths, few, ovate pinnae, and usually well-developed cirri; and the fourth from the western Amazon region in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, having non-spiny sheaths, numerous, lanceolate pinnae, and well-developed cirri. ANOVA shows that for pair wise comparison probabilities, six variables (plant height, petiole length, rachis length, rachis width, basal pinna length, basal pinna width) differ significantly (P <0.05) between at least one pair of subgroups, and one variable (number of pinnae) differs amongst all four subgroups. Based on these results, specimens from the four subgroups are recognized as subspecies (subspp. ecirratus, leptospadix, mitis, rurrenabaquensis). (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb.
Comments and Curiosities
There are four subspecies:
Description: Leaf sheaths non-spiny, rarely sparsely spiny; rachises 20.9(8.0-41.0) cm long; pinnae ovate, 3(2-5) per side of rachis; cirri usually absent, the rachis terminating beyond the distalmost pair of pinnae in a short 'stub'. (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb.
Taxonomic notes:-This taxon was mistakenly referred to by Henderson (1995) as Desmoncus mitis var. leptoclonos, based on D. leptoclonos Dammer. However, this name is pre-occupied by D. leptoclonos Drude. Subspecific variation:-The outlying specimen (Asplund 14687) from Loreto, Peru, has much wider pinnae than other specimens. Some specimens are described on labels as being non-climbers. On some specimens (e.g., Moreno 163, Schunke 15033, Nee 34990, Forero 6384) there are some leaves with weakly developed cirri as well as leaves with the more usual poorly-developed cirri; on a few other specimens there are weakly developed cirri. Specimens from the eastern part of the range, from eastern Acre, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, and adjacent Bolivia usually have 2 pinnae per side of the shorter rachis, and these have very few spinules at the bases. Specimens from the western part of the range, from western Acre and adjacent Peru tend to have 3 pinnae per side of the longer rachis, and usually have spinulose pinnae bases. These specimens overlap with those of D. mitis subsp. leptospadix. (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb.
2.) Desmoncus mitis subsp. leptospadix; Brazil North, Colombia, and Peru. From 0°52'-11°46'S and 59°00'-77°40'W in the western Amazon region in Colombia (Amazonas), Peru (Amazonas, Cuzco, Huánuco, Loreto, Ucayali), and Brazil (Acre, Amazonas) at 166(100-400) m elevation in lowland rainforest . (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb.
Description: Leaf sheaths non-spiny, rarely sparsely spiny; rachises 35.0(17.2-76.0) cm long; pinnae ovate, 6(3-11) per side of rachis; cirri usually well-developed. (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb.
Taxonomic notes:-Henderson (1995) referred to this taxon as Desmoncus mitis var. Leptospadix (Martius) Henderson, based on D. leptospadix Martius. The type of this is sterile and an epitype is therefore designated. Subspecific variation:-Most specimens from Maynas, Loreto, Peru have multiple (2-3) inflorescences at a node. Two specimens (Prance 12310, 12490), both from the same locality in western Acre, Brazil have larger fruits than usual; others from the same area have normal fruits. Most specimens from western Acre have smaller leaves than usual. A few specimens from the western part of the range have spiny peduncular bracts (e.g., Schunke 15629) or spiny sheaths (e.g., Huashikat 2309). Three specimens from Loreto, Peru (Tessmann 5236, Vásquez 8325, 8329) have poorly-developed cirri. One unusual specimen (Simpson 698) from Loreto, possibly a mixed collection, has leaves like those of subsp. mitis and infructescences like those of D. polyacanthos. Another specimen from Loreto (Kvist 1156) appears intermediate between subsp. leptospadix and D. polyacanthos and may be a hybrid. A specimen from Huánuco (Listabarth 1110589) may also be a hybrid. The easternmost specimen (Rabelo 79), from the Rio Urubu near Manaus, is outside the main range of subsp. leptospadix and has completely smooth peduncular bracts and slender rachillae with some adnation. It may belong here; it is not included in the above description but is mapped. (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb.
3.) Desmoncus mitis subsp. mitis; Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. From 0°05'-5°59'S and 72°00'-77°40'W in the western Amazon region in Colombia (Amazonas, Caquetá), Ecuador (Napo), Peru (Amazonas, Loreto) at 204(145-300) m elevation in lowland rainforest in non-flooded areas. It also probably occurs in the western Amazon region of Brazil (Amazonas) (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb.
Description: Leaf sheaths non-spiny, rarely sparsely spiny; rachises 38.0(30.0-50.0) cm long; pinnae linear or lanceolate, 15(12-25) per side of rachis; cirri well-developed. (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb.
Taxonomic notes:-Henderson (1995) recognized this taxon as Desmoncus mitis Martius var. mitis, and included D. pumilus Trail and D. setosus var. mitescens Drude as synonyms. Desmoncus pumilus Trail is here treated as a distinct species, and D. setosus var. mitescens Drude as an Excluded Name. The type of D. mitis was given by Henderson (1995) as Martius s. n., and this specimen is extant at M and is here lectotypified. However, there is some doubt concerning the type locality. It is given on the label as "Provinciae flum. Nigri" and in Martius (1823-1837) as "fluvii Solimoës", presumably in Brazil (Amazonas). All the specimens cited here come from further west than the most westward point of Martius? journey in modern-day Colombia, with the exception of Aguirre-Galviz 1152 from Colombia (Amazonas). (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb.
4.) Desmoncus mitis subsp. rurrenabaquensis; Bolivia, and Peru. From 12°50'-17°24'S and 64°30'-70°50'W in subAndean areas of the southwestern Amazon region of Peru (Cuzco, Madre de Dios, Puno) and Bolivia (Beni, Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Cruz) at 421(250-920) m elevation in lowland rainforest . (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb.
Description: Leaf sheaths densely and finely spiny; rachises 45.1(25.0-69.0) cm long; pinnae linear or lanceolate, 19(16- 22) per side of rachis; cirri well-developed. (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb.
Taxonomic notes:-This taxon was referred to by Henderson (1995) as Desmoncus mitis var. rurrenabaquensis. The type of this is sterile and an epitype is therefore designated. (Henderson, A. 2011)
Uses: A decoction of its roots is used to treat an ill-defined sickness called "Mal-viento". The stem is used to weave baskets, seats of furniture, and the fruit is eaten. This plant and a larger variety with similar thorns are referred to in a myth that tells how this vine was used by "supai" (forest spirits) to make traps to catch people. The thorn ("Ansilbara") would catch peoples hair, trapping them until the "supai" could get them.
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.
Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos, edric.
Special thanks to Palmweb.org, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos, edric.
Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).
Henderson, A. 2011. A revision of Desmoncus (Arecaceae).
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.