Aiphanes lindeniana

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Aiphanes (ah-ee-FAHN-ehz)
lindeniana (leen-dehn-ee-AHN-ah)
Alimg 1403.jpg
H.P. Leu Gardens, Orlando, FL. Photo by Botanist Eric S.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Aiphanes (ah-ee-FAHN-ehz)
lindeniana (leen-dehn-ee-AHN-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering & caespitose, rarely solitary.
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Cuaro, cuvaro, mararai (Cundinamarca).

Habitat and Distribution

Endemic to Colombia, where it is widely distributed along the CordilIeras Oriental and Central,
from the junction of these and northwards to the department of Antioquia in Cordillera Central and at least to the department of Norte del Santander in Cordillera Oriental. It grows in humid, frequently cloudy zones between 1900 and 2700 m, and it is often a conspicuous element in the upper montane forest. It is often conserved in deforested areas, where it seems unable to regenerate by seeds. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)/Palmweb.


Caespitose, with up to 10 stems, rarely 1-stemmed. Stems 1.5-7 m tall, 3-7 (-10) cm in diam., armed with black spines, to 10 cm long. Leaves 4-10, distichous or more rarely polystichous; sheath 15-42 cm long, densely armed with black spines, to 12 cm long; petiole 6-56 cm, with a white or brown, caducous indument, and numerous black spines, to 8 cm long; rachis 38-172 cm long, with indument and armature like that on the petiole, but spines fewer and shorter; pinnae 18-45 per side, inserted in groups of 2-7 separated by up to 11 cm, lanceolate to narrowly cuneate, (3.5-)5- 11 times as long as wide, often strongly plicate, truncate- or obliquely praemorse at apex, with an up to 2.5 cm long finger-like projection on the distal margin, nearly glabrous or spinulose, especially abaxially, margins lined with 1-2 mm long spinules, midrib adaxially with a row of thin spines, to 1 cm long, abaxially with 1-6 rigid spines, to 2.5 cm long; basal pinnae 6.5-20.5 x 0.6-1.5 cm; middle pinnae 16-34 x 1-7 cm; apical pinnae 2-7 ribbed, 8-18 x 2-13.5 cm. Inflorescence interfoliar, erect, branched to 1 order; prophyll 21-47 x 1.1-3.4 cm; peduncular bract 57-142 cm long, 2-6 cm wide, thick, with a thin, brown, caducous indument, unarmed or with black spines, to 3 cm long; peduncle 32-100 cm, with a brown indument, sparsely to densely armed with black spines; rachis 18-46 cm long, unarmed or armed for a variable part of the length with black, crimped spines, to 1 cm long; rachillae 16-68, densely covered with minute, brown or ferruginous spinules, about 0.1 mm long; basal rachillae 16-42 cm long, without flowers for 0.5 to 26 cm basally, with triads for ½-? of the remaining length, in this part 2-5 mm in diam., distally about 1 mm in diam., with dyads of staminate flowers; apical rachillae 3.5-14 cm long, staminate; flower groups slightly sunken into the rachillae; triads subtended by a small bract, covering up to ?4 of the pistillate flower; dyads subtended by a minute triangular bract. Staminate flowers white to violet, 2-3 mm long; sepals imbricate, briefly connate at base, 2-3 mm long; petals 2-3 mm long, nearly free; filaments ca. 1 mm long, anthers almost square to linear, 0.6-1.4 x 0.6-0.8 mm; pistillode small, trifid. Pistillate flowers 3-7 mm long; sepals imbricate, 3.5-7 mm long; petals connate for ½ of their length, valvate distally, about 4 mm long; staminodial cup about 2 mm high, briefly dentatc; pistil glabrous, about 3 mm long. Fruits red or orange, subglobose, slightly rostrate, 14-16 mm in diam.; endocarp 13-16 mm in diam., slightly pitted toward apex. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Aiphanes lindeniana is variable with respect to size and form of the pinnae, size of the inflorescence, and the length of the basal flowerless part of the rachillae. It is closely related to the south Ecuadorean A. verrucoso, under which the differences are discussed. In general terms A. Lindeniana can be distinguished by its caespitose habit; fierce armature of stem, leaves, and inflorescences; numerous, densely inserted, linear to narrowly cuneate, often very rigid pinnae, normally with a characteristic row of thin spines adaxially on the midrib; glabrous pistil; and red fruits, with an almost smooth endocarp. Leaves are mostly distichous, but this character presents some variation, and individuals with polystichous leaves are known from the northern parts of Cordilleras Central and Oriental. Occasionally, distichous and polystichous leaves occur in the same population (Gentry et al. 47724, 47756). Leaf anatomy is also variable; specimens from the northern part of Cordillera Oriental (Bernal & Galeano 1352; Grant 10538) have the non-vascular fiber strands arranged in a single layer of relatively thick bundles, an arrangement otherwise encountered only in A. eggersii ; specimens from localities further south (Gentry 47756) have fibers arranged in 2-3 layers of thinner bundles showing a transition to the pattern found in A. verrucosa from southern Ecuador. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)/Palmweb.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b

Comments and Curiosities

Conservation: The habitat is gradually losing way to increasing agriculture and forestry activities. IUCN Redlist-Vulnerable 1998.

Tax. history: The species was first described by German botanist Hermann Wendland in 1857 as Martinezia lindeniana. In 1878 Wendland transferred it to the genus Aiphanes.

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. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95

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

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