Desmoncus polyacanthos

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Desmoncus (dehs-MON-koohs) polyacanthos
Brazil. Photo by Dr. Andrew J. Henderson/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Desmoncus (dehs-MON-koohs)
Species: polyacanthos
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary & clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Brazil bramble palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Desmoncus polyacanthos is found in Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast,
Photo by Pablo Boni Herrera.
Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad-Tobago, and Venezuela. From 10°37'N-21°31'S and 35°09'-78°38'W in Trinidad, Venezuela, the Guianas, Brazil (including the Atlantic Coastal Forest), Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia at 205(0-1000) m elevation in a variety of habitats including lowland rainforest on terra firme, flooded forest, campina, restinga, or scrub forest near the sea. Read (1979) also included the Lesser Antillean island of St. Vincent in the distribution of this species, but only one, sterile specimen from there has been seen. There is another specimen at P labelled "Martinique" but without more precise locality. (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb.


Subcanopy reaching liana (climbing). Stems solitary or clustered.

Palm 7.2 (1.0-37.0) m tall; stems 1.4 (0.5-2.9) cm in diameter, clustered. Leaf petioles 3.2 (0.5-13.5) cm long; rachises 63.8 (25.0-173.0) cm long, 5.2 (1.8-12.9) mm wide, the spines usually <1 cm long, mostly abaxial, recurved with markedly swollen bases; pinnae 8 (4-15) per side of rachis, without long, filiform apices, without a beard of spines at the bases, without spinules or dense tomentum at the bases adaxially; basal pinna 15.8 (3.3-40.0) cm long, 2.7 (0.3-5.8) cm wide; cirri well-developed, with acanthophylls, cirri with spines abaxially mostly on proximal part only, without intermediate acanthophylls present, with a wide gap between pinnae and acanthophylls. Inflorescences with the rachis thicker than the few, closely spaced and spirally arranged rachillae, each rachilla subtended by an acute bracteole and with an axillary pulvinus; peduncles 3.5 (1.6-12.4) mm wide; peduncular bracts 26.3 (16.5-34.0) cm long, broad, sparsely to densely covered with short, markedly swollen-based, diagonally oriented spines, these triangular in cross-section, whitish-brown proximally, brown distally, with tomentose margins, rarely spines few or absent; rachillae 15 (5-37), glabrous or scarcely tomentose initially; proximal rachillae 7.4 (3.3-13.0) cm long, 1.1 (0.6-2.0) mm wide; stamens 5-6; fruits 16.4 (11.2-23.5) mm long, 11.9 (7.9-17.9) mm wide, the surfaces smooth, without any apparent subepidermal fibers; fruiting corollas less than one quarter as long as fruits, splitting irregularly into 3 lobes the lobes often splitting again; endocarps globose to obovoid with rounded apices, the pores lateral, not equidistant, the sterile pores closer latitudinally (Henderson, A. 2011)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

The species is recognised by its recurved, hook-like spines on the leaf rachis and cirrhus, and entire, spiny leaf sheath.


Sheltered, moist but well drained postion. Tropical.

Comments and Curiosities

Uses: Stems are collected by country people, on demand from the manufacturerin the city. The plant is cut at ground level and the sheathing leaf bases are strippedaway. The stem is then rolled up, and taken to the city. The uses of Desmoncus stems reported here were exclusively based on split stems called skeins. The actual weaving and basket making were all done in cottage industries, in private homes, back yards, garages, etc. Armchairs with seats woven of these materials. seed is buffed to make necklaces. fibers are used to make rope.

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. 2011. A revision of Desmoncus (Arecaceae).

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

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