Attalea funifera

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Attalea (at-tahl-EH-ah)
funifera (foo-nih-FEHR-ah)
Una, Bahia, Brazil. Photo by Antonio Silveira
Scientific Classification
Genus: Attalea (at-tahl-EH-ah)
funifera (foo-nih-FEHR-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Piassava Fiber Palm, Pissaba palm, Piassava palm, Bahia piassaba palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Attalea funifera is found in Brazil Northeast, Brazil Southeast.
Una, Bahia, Brazil. Photo by Antonio Silveira
Coastal Eastern Brazil, from Salvador, to just south of Porto Seguro.


A large, solitary palm reaching 12-15 m in height with up to 12 m long leaves. It forms a plumose head of up to 30 large leaves that are held erect in a shuttlecock-like crown. It has a clustering form, considered the same species, but has been given the name, A. acaulis. Editing by edric.


Warm, sunny, and moist.

Comments and Curiosities

Fire Management of the Piassava Fiber Palm (Attalea funifera) in Eastern Brazil.

The ability of rainforest palms to survive and even thrive after burning presents an evolutionary puzzle. Why should so many species exhibit apparent adaptations to an ecological factor--in this case fire-that is infrequently a natural element in the ecosystem? The answer to this question is not immediately obvious, although it could involve coincidental preadaptation, immigration from a more arid region, or in situ adaptation to a fluctuating climate. But, regardless of its origin, fire resistance is a common characteristic of palms and one that has received some consideration. Explanations of fire tolerance in palms have focused on various morphological attributes of the seed, the juvenile, or the adult stage. First, it has been suggested that palm seeds remain dormant in the soil seed bank for many years until induced to germinate by a fire (Hartley 1967; Rizzini 1963). This explanation, however, is inconsistent with the noted inability of palm seeds to retain viability under storage for any length of time. Second, previously established palm seedlings and juveniles may survive the effects of a fire because their subterranean terminal buds are safely removed from the heat of the flames (Anderson 1983; Brinkmann and Vieira 1971; Rawitscher 1948). Third, since the trunks of palms are fire resistant (Tomlinson 1979), it is possible that spared individuals serve as immediate seed sources for the re-vegetation of burned sites (Harlan 1975). In the case of the piassava fiber palm (Attalea funifera) of eastern Brazil, folk wisdom and the local literature support the first explanation, that is, that seeds are induced to germinate by fire or by its indirect effects.

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).

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

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