Euterpe catinga

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Euterpe (yoo-TEHR-peh)
catinga (kaht-IN-gah)
Scientific Classification
Genus: Euterpe (yoo-TEHR-peh)
catinga (kaht-IN-gah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Assai Miri.

Habitat and Distribution

Brazil North, Colombia, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela. Patchily distributed east of the
The Amazon. Photo by Jack and Lindsey Sayers.
Andes in Venezuala, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, in white sand areas below 350 m elevation and on the Andean slopes at 1100-1800 m elevation. In Ecuador it is known only from the mouth of the Pastaza valley near Puyo, in floodplain forest or in pasture.


Similar to other Euterpes with graceful fronds and drooping slender leaflets. Mostly known for it's colorful orange to reddish crownshaft.

Subcanopy to canopy palm. Stems clustered, to 20 m tall, 10-15 cm in diameter. Leaves to 3 m long; crownshaft sometimes orange or red; petiole with numerous black adpressed scales; pinnae 40-60 on each side, regularly inserted, narrow, slightly pendulous, the central ones 40-70 cm long. Inflorescence erect, 30-50 cm long, with up to 100 branches inserted on all sides of the axis, these 3-4 mm in diameter and covered with short, whitish brown hairs. Fruits black, globose, about 1 cm in diameter. Endosperm homogeneous. Seedling leaves deeply bifid. Stems caespitose with a few stems forming a clump, or only 1 stem developed with basal shoots, or solitary, erect, 4-16 m tall, 3.5-15 cm diam. , gray, with a cone of brown or reddish roots at the base, these 0.2-1 m long and 1-1.5 cm in diam. Leaves 5-10, spreading; sheath 0.4-1 m long including a 1-2 (-9) cm ligule, orange or reddish, green, yellowish green, bluish green or with a bluish glaucous bloom, often with scales, sometimes with a mass of black, elongate, flimsy scales apically (this the abaxial covering of the youngest, folded pinnae which peels off as the leaf unfolds); petiole 0-45 cm long, densely covered adaxially with black or reddish brown, raised, ramenta-like scales, abaxially with fewer scales, these mostly toward the margins, or almost glabrous; rachis 1.2-2.5 m long, densely to moderately covered with scales like those of petiole; pinnae 33-75 per side, ± horizontally spreading or somewhat pendulous, subopposite, coriaceous, with a few scales on abaxial surface, the midvein prominent with 2 lateral veins either side, the veins with prominent, brown ramenta abaxially, with scattered to numerous punctations abaxially; basal pinna 0.3-1 m x 0.3-2 cm; middle pinnae 35- 84 x 1.5-4.5 cm; apical pinna 23-31 x 0.6-2 cm. Inflorescences infrafoliar; ± horizontal at anthesis; peduncle 6-14 cm long; prophyll 0.5-1 m long; peduncular bract 46-90 cm long, without an umbo; rachis 20-45 cm long; rachillae 48-150, 35-75 cm long, 2.5-4 mm in diam. at anthesis, arranged all round the rachis, densely covered with 0.1 mm long, stiff, branched hairs; flowers in triads almost to the ends ofthe rachillae, paired or solitary staminate distally; triad bracteole prominent, apiculate, to 1 mm long; first flower bracteole obscure, second and third flower bracteoles prominent, unequal, the larger one to 1.5 mm long; staminate flowers 3-4 mm long; sepals very widely ovate, 1.5-3 mm long, broad ly imbricate, slightly keeled, minutely ciliate; petals ovate, 2.5-3 mm long; stamens arranged on a short receptacle; filaments 1-2 mm long; anthers 1.7-2 mm long; pistillode 1-2 mm long, trifid at apex; pistiliate flowers 2-5 mm long; sepals widely ovate, 2-3.5 mm long; petals widely ovate. 2-4 mm long; fruits globose or depressed- globose, 0.8-1.3 cm in diam., stigmatic remains subapical to lateral; epicarp purple-black or reddish brown, minutely tuberculate; seeds globose; endosperm homogeneous; eophyll bifid. (Borchsenius, F. 1998)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

This complex species is difficult taxonomically and still poorly understood. At low elevations in the western Amazon region, plants are rather uniform and are characterized by orange crownshafts usually with a mass of flimsy scales at the apex, horizontally spreading pinnae, and slender rachillae with small, purpleblack fruits. Similar plants occur at high elevations on tepuis in the western part of the Guayana Highland. Other high-elevation populations, also in the western part, are vegetatively similar to the low-elevation form but have thicker rachillae with larger, reddish brown fruits. These plants occur together with a very common and quite variable high-elevation form which also occurs throughout the Guayana Highland, with green crownshafts, no flimsy scales, pendulous pinnae, thicker rachillae, and larger reddish brown or purpleblack fruits. The situation is further complicated by similar forms occurring in the Andes. We have divided these two forms into two varieties; the extremes are quite distinct but intermediates blur the separation. An argument could be made that the two extreme forms are distinct species and the intermediates are hybrids, but we feel that there is insufficient information to support this hypothesis. (Gloria Galeano and A. Henderson)/Palmweb.


Typical Amazonian requirements of adequate water, rich well drained soil, and subtropical temperatures.

Comments and Curiosities

Several Euterpes with colorful (orange and even red) crownshafts are in cultivation and have been observed in the wild covering a wide range and differing habitats - some reported to be clustering. It appears as if more work needs to be done to sort these out. Presently Kew lists three accepted species.

  • Euterpe catinga
  • Euterpe catinga var. catinga
  • Euterpe catinga var. roraimae

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

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).

Borchsenius, F.1998. Manual to the palms of Ecuador. AAU Reports 37. Department of Systematic Botany, University of Aarhus, Denmark in collaboration with Pontificia Universidad Catalica del Ecuador.

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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