| Manicaria (mahn-ih-kah-REE-ah} |
SURINAME: Groningen. 1979. Photo-L.H. Bailey Hortorium.
Habitat and DistributionBelize, Brazil North, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala,
It occurs naturally in the Atlantic regions of Central America. Also it grows in some parts of South America. Usually grows in low land places near water, but also in inundated places inland. In Costa Rica it is easily seen along the Tortuguero canals in Limón.
Subcanopy palm. Stem solitary, to 10 m tall, 15-35 cm in diameter. Leaves 3-6 m long. Inflorescence borne among the leaves, to 60 cm long. Fruits 35 cm in diameter. (Borchsenius, F. 1998)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.
A very atractive palm in cultivation, and gets up to 33 ft/10 meters. It has enormous entire leaves (up to 20 ft/6 meters) and the inflorescence can reach 3.2 ft/1 meter long. The fruits can contain from 1 to 3 seeds; they have a rough surface full of tubercles. The seeds can float in the water for a long time until they reach an appropriate place to germinate. The endosperm is homogeneous.
Trunk solitary, up to 10 m. tall, about 35 cm. in diameter, in the upper part covered with dead leaf-bases, at base with prominent leaf-scars. About 10 contemporaneous suberect leaves; dead leaves persistent for some time and hanging down on the trunk; sheath with fibrous ventral part enclosing young leaves about 7 m. long; petiole stout, about 12 cm. long and 8 cm. in diameter, grooved, leaf-blades very large, Leaf rachis length (330–)470–740(–800) cm., simple or irregularly pinnatisect through the action of the wind, also in leaves of juvenile plants, 2 m. long and 23 cm. wide, bifid at apex, margin serrate; about 120 primary veins, 3-4 cm. distant at the middle of the blade, secondary veins inconspicuous; petiole, costa, and the lower surface of the blade at first more or less brown-tomentose, soon glabrescent. Spadices almost erect, about 17 cm. long, with 2 spathes; outer spathe about 7 cm, long, flattened, invisible between leaf -sheaths, inner spathe about 11 cm. long, fusiform, mueronate, consisting of densely interwoven fibers without any suture, enclosing the inflorescence completely till long after anthesis; peduncle about 10 cm. long, rachis about 6 cm. long with up to 45 simple rachillas or rarely a few rachillas bifurcate, several large bracts along the peduncle within the inner spathe, smaller bracts at the base of the rachillas. Male flowers densely crowded in the upper part of the rachillas (and 2 laterally adjacent to each female flower), sunken in small pits and subtended by bracts 7 12 mm. long; sepals ovate, imbricate, 3-4 mm. long, petals lanceolate, valvate, ligneous-incrassate, 6-7 mm. long; stamens many (20-34), densely congested, filaments about l1 mm. long, anthers 3 mm. long, the central ones usually misshapen. Female flowers few, near the base of the rachillas between 2 male flowers, subtended by bracts; sepals ovate, imbricate, 7 mm. long, 8 mm. wide, petals ovate, valvate, acute at apex, ligneous-incrassate, 10 mm. long, 6 mm. wide; pistil globose, -1 mm. in diameter, stigma 3-fid, sessile, erect, 3-4 mm. long, strongly papillose. Fruit depressed-globose, 3-seeded or bv abortion 1- or 2 -seeded; exocarp corky, angulate-eehinate, tubercles rather hard and not easily nibbed off; seed globose, about 4 cm. in diameter; embryo basal. (Wessels Boer 1965a: 21) Editing by edric.
These palms tend to grow in swampy areas. Warm, sheltered and moist. Very cold sensitive. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10b
Comments and Curiosities
Etymology: Genus name from the Latin for 'with a sleeve' referring to the tough fibrous primary bracts of the inflorescence. The specific epithet from the Latin for 'sack bearing' referring to the peduncular bract being sack-like.
Manicaria saccifera which has leaves with a length of 10 m, considered the largest of all vegetables.
Uses: The leaves can be used as sails for canoes, even to navigate the rivers, downstream rafts are made with stalks, heavily ventricose and potbellied, to navigate in the sea or in the river mouths, with huge sheets of monoblock JICRA (Manicaria saccifera). In construction as thatch. The husks serve as backpacks or jiqueras. Peduncular bracts are collected before the fully open inflorescence, and used to make hats. Medicinal; pulp as a kidney poultice, as a treatment for the Respiratory system. The indigenous in the jungle, around the Anchicayá River, use the fruit as a refreshing source of water. Bora Indians use the palm in a special way. "Ampiri" is a mixture of tobacco, and the ash from burnt Manicaria stems.
This unique and handsome so;itary palm, curved or crooked and deeply ringed. The leaves are very large, entire, rigid and furrowed, and have a serrated margin; they are often thirty feet long, and four or five feet wide; and split irregularly with age. The petioles are slender with a broadly expanded fibrous-edged sheath at the base. These sheaths are persistent and often cover the stem to the ground. The "bussu" produces the longest entire leaves of any known palm, and for this reason, as well as on account of their firm and rigid texture, they form the very best and most durable thatch. The leaves are split down the midrib and the halves laid obliquely on the rafters, so that the furrows formed by the veins lie in a nearly vertical direction and serve as so many little gutters to carry off the water more rapidly. A well-made thatch of "bussu" will last ten or twelve years, and an Indian will often take a week's voyage in order to get a canoe-load of the leaves to cover his house. The spathe too is much valued by the Indian, furnishing him with an excellent and durable cloth. Taken off entire it forms bags in which he keeps the red paint for his toilet or the silk cotton for his arrows, or he even stretches out the larger ones to make himself a cap,--cunningly woven by nature without seam or joining. When cut open longitudinally and pressed flat, it is used to preserve his delicate feather ornaments and gala dresses, which are kept in a chest of plaited palm leaves between layers of the smooth "bussu" cloth. This species inhabits the tidal swamps of the Lower Amazon. A palm called "bussu" is also found on the Rio Negro and Upper Amazon, but it is of a smaller size and is probably a distinct species. (Palm Trees of the Amazon by Alfred Russel Wallace)
Between the Sarstoon and Temash Rivers are extensive Swamp forests. Partly these swamp forests are dominated by the palm Manicaria saccifera, locally called "Comfra". This palm is not found elsewhere in Belize and therefore constitutes an unique element for the Sarstoon Temash National Park. The palm can grow quite large, in the foreground for scale is REA leader Jan Meerman. But the palm can actually grow taller than this. Photo: biological-diversity.info
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- The Applied Anthropological Perspective on the Current State of Natural Resource Management: the case of the Manicaria saccifera in the Tortuguero region, Costa Rica
- Notes on Mauritiella, Manicaria and Leopoldinia
- MANICARIA SACCIFERA AND ITS CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE AMONG THE WARAO INDIANS OF VENEZUELA BY Johannes Wilbert
Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.
Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.
Special thanks to Palmweb.org, 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.