Hyospathe elegans

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elegans (EHL-eh-ganz)
Yasuni National Park, Orellana, Ecuador. Photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Hyospathe
elegans (EHL-eh-ganz)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Bolivia, Brazil North, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panamá, Peru,
Yasuni National Park, Orellana, Ecuador. Photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Suriname, Venezuela. Widespread in Central and South America, southward to Bolivia, in the under story of closed-canopy forest, between sea level and 2000 m (6600 ft.).


Understorey palm. Stems clustered, erect or sometimes decumbent with age, to 5 m tall and 2-3 cm in diameter, smooth, with distant leaf scars. Leaves 50-200 cm long, simple or pinnately divided, with up to 25 unequal to nearly equal pinnae on each side; leaf sheath closed, green; petiole channeled above. Inflorescence borne below the leaves, erect, pink at anthesis, red in fruit, branched to one order; peduncle 2-15 cm long; rachis 1-16 cm long; branches to 50, as long as or longer than the rachis. Fruits black, oblong, about 10-15 mm long and 3-7 mm in diameter. (Borchsenius, F. 1998)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

A variable species that includes several morphological types, differing in size, habit, stem development, and degree of dissection of the leaves. However, intermediate forms exist, linking these together (Skov & Balslev, 1989), (Borchsenius, F. 1998)/Palmweb.


Comments and Curiosities

Uses: Dental care - Secoya indians in NE Ecuador and the Huitoto tribe in Colombia chew the palm heart which blacken their teeth. This is done for cosmetic reasons. Peruvian indians masticate new leaf growth to clean the teeth.- The Sionas call it " Derechu eco" and chew its palm heart to protect their teeth from decaying. Medicinal - The root is used against nausea, vomiting and headaches. The Miraña bud root mixed with acai (Euterpe precatoria), to cure the flu. Hunting - The small cupula present on the rachillae when the fruits have fallen is used as a spear in animal hunting. Construction - Leaves are used for thatch; they are considered better than those of "Conambo" (=Attalea butyracea) and as good as "turuji" (= Geonoma interrupta). (Balslev, H., and A. Barfod. 1987)/Palmweb.

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to Palmweb.org, 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).

Balslev, H., and A. Barfod, Ecuadorean palms- an overview. 1987. 1987. Ecuadorean palms- an overview.

Borchsenius, F.1998. Manual to the palms of Ecuador. AAU Reports 37. Department of Systematic Botany, University of Aarhus, Denmark in collaboration with Pontificia Universidad Catalica del Ecuador.

Skov, F., and H. Balslev, A revision of Hyospathe (Arecaceae). 1989. 1989. A revision of Hyospathe (Arecaceae).

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

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