Bactris major

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Bactris (BAHK-triss)
major (MAH-yohr)
Bactris major1z.jpg
Scientific Classification
Genus: Bactris (BAHK-triss)
major (MAH-yohr)
Bactris ovata
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary & clustering.
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Kawmaka, prickly palm, lata palm, cubarro.

Habitat and Distribution

Bactris major is found in forests, but more often in open areas, near rivers and streams or
Bactris majorz.jpg
standing water, or other places periodically flooded, often in coastal areas, also in disturbed places, below 600 m elevation, in Belize, Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil West-Central, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Nicaragua, Panamá, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad-Tobago, and Venezuela. Common and widespread from southern Mexico through Central America to northern South America, less common in the Amazon region, again common in lowland Bolivia. (Henderson, A.J. 2000)/Palmweb.


Stems solitary or clustering, but usually cespitose (growing in tufts or clumps), 1-10 m tall, 2-6 cm in diam., spiny on internodes. Leaves 3-10 per crown; leaf spines brown or black, more or less terete, to 11 cm long, moderate to dense on sheath, petiole, and rachis; sheath 22-55 cm long, fibrous on margins; ocrea to 20 cm long, becoming fibrous; petiole 0.1 -1.5 m long; rachis 0.7-1.8 m long; pinnae 24-46 per side, more or less regularly arranged, sometimes irregularly, spreading in the same plane, linear, aristate, minutely spiny on margins, with a metallic sheen on drying; middle pinnae 25-62 x 1-3.5 cm. Inflorescences interfoliar; peduncle 15-40 cm long, recurved, spinulose or densely spiny; prophyll 13-30 cm long; peduncular bract 28-60 cm long, densely to moderately covered with black, dark brown, or yellowish brown spines to 1 (-2) cm long; rachis 0.5-4 cm long; rachillae (1-) 5-10 (-17), 9-23 cm long, about 2 mm in diam. at anthesis, 3-4 mm thick in fruit, at anthesis scarcely covered brown tomentum; triads irregularly arranged among paired or solitary staminate flowers; staminate flowers 3-8 mm long, somewhat persistent; sepal lobes 1.5-3 mm long; petals 3-7 mm long; stamens 6; pistillode absent; pistillate flowers 4-9 mm long; calyx tubular, 4-8 mm long, minutely spinulose; corolla tubular, 3-5 mm long, minutely and densely spinulose; staminodial ring adnate to corolla, 1-3 mm long; fruits 1.5-4.5 x 1-3.5 cm, subglobose, irregularly ellipsoid, ellipsoid-oblong, or broadly obo-void, brown or purple-black, with minute spinules or small brown scales; mesocarp juicy; endocarp ellipsoid or obovoid, the pores equatorial, equidistant, but fertile one displaced proximally; endocarp fibers numerous, free; fruiting perianth with regularly lobed calyx shorter than the regularly lobed, swollen corolla, with staminodial ring adnate to corolla. (Henderson, A.J. 2000)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Partial shade, sandy loam soil, needs high humidity. Plant in frost free locations.

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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