Bactris cubensis

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Bactris (BAHK-triss)
cubensis (koo-BEHN-sis)
Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt, in the Guantanamo Province, eastern Cuba. Photo by Helena Cistotov, edric.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Bactris (BAHK-triss)
cubensis (koo-BEHN-sis)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary & clustering.
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Pajuapalme, Cuba: palmilla.

Habitat and Distribution

Bactris cubensis is endemic to Cuba, (Guantanamo, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba).
Copernicia rigida & Bactris cubensis near Moa, Cuba. Feb 2000. Note color variation in the leaves of these individuals of Copernicia. The Bactris is the palm to the right of the Copernicia. These palms grow on ultramaphic soil. Photo by Scott Zona.
Found in open rainforest in lowland or hilly areas, on the Nipe-Baracoa Massif, and eastern Sierra Maestra in eastern Cuba, at elevations between 40 and 700 metres above sea level. (Forest in lowland or hilly areas, at 500-650 m elevation. Henderson, A.J. 2000)/Palmweb.


It is a medium sized clustering palm, that grows from 2.7m. (8ft.) to 6.4m. (20ft.) tall, in clusters of between 6 and 12 stems. It has long spines covering all the stems, and attractive, light green, slightly plumose leaves.

Stems solitary or clustering, usually cespitose (growing in tufts or clumps), 2-6 m. tall, 6-10 cm. in diam., spiny on internodes. Leaves 4-10 in the crown; leaf spines scattered, black, terete, to 6 cm. long, in 3 longitudinal rows on petiole or, dense on sheath, petiole and abaxial surface of rachis; sheath 25-50 cm. long; ocrea not seen; petiole 30-50 cm. long; rachis 1-2 m. long; pinnae 50-80 per side, irregularly arranged in clusters, spreading in different planes, linear, spinulose along the margins; middle pinnae 60-74 x 2.5-3.1 cm. Inflorescences interfoliar; peduncle to 25 cm. long, strongly recurved, spiny; prophyll to 12 cm. long; peduncular bract 26-43 cm. long, densely covered with black spines to 3 cm. long; rachis to 5 cm. long; rachillae 26-39, 6-13 cm long, at anthesis densely covered with whitish or brownish, moniliform trichomes; triads irregularly arranged among paired or solitary staminate flowers; staminate flowers 3.5-4 mm. long; sepal lobes 1.5-2 mm. long; petals 3.5-4 mm. long; stamens 6; pistillode absent; pistillate flowers 3-3.5 mm. long; calyx annular, 0.5 mm. long; corolla tubular, 2.53 mm. long; staminodes 6, minute, digitate, or absent; fruits 1-1.5 cm. in diam.; globose to ovoid, rostrate, mesocarp thin, mealy, or oily; endocarp subglobose, the sterile pores slightly displaced longitudinally; endocarp fibers absent; fruiting perianth with entire margined calyx and longer, entire margined corolla, without staminodial ring. (Henderson, A.J. 2000)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Bactris cubensis is diagnosed by its 50-80 linear pinnae per side, and globose to ovoid, orange fruits 1-1.5 cm. in diameter. Salzman & Judd (1995) have given a detailed description and discussion of the relationships of this species. (Henderson, A.J. 2000)/Palmweb.


Not often grown in cultivation, but tropical/warm sub-tropical in its requiements. Sunny, well drained position. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

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).

Henderson, A.J.2000. Bactris (Palmae). New York Botanical Garden.

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

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