Phytelephas seemannii O.F.Cook, Bull. Bur. Pl. Industr. U.S.D.A. 242: 68 (1912)

Primary tabs

http://media.e-taxonomy.eu/palmae/photos/palm_tc_155974_6.jpg

Distribution

Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/tdwg/geogrphy.html)
Colombiapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)A
Panamápresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)A

Discussion

  • Typification: Based on P. macrocarpa in Seemann's "The Botany of the Voyage of H. M. S. Herald" (1852-1857). Seeman observed it along the pacific shore of Darien in Panama and the Northern part of Choco in Colombia. He collected it in the bay of Cupica and one of his sheets, kept at the British Museum (BM), is designated lectotype. (Barfod, A., A monographic study of the subfamily Phytelephantoideae (Arecaceae) in Opera Botanica 105. 1991)B

Biology And Ecology

  • Cook (1913) described five new species of Phytelephas from Panama and gave a list of valuable distinguishing characters. The characters mentioned were all related to the fruit. Most of them show a large within-population variation and vary even within a single palm. The flat inner mesocarp fibres are characteristic for P. seemannii, as is the large-sized umbo, but the shape of this structure is highly variable. Phytelephas seemannii has 36 stamens per flower according to the original description. That is the same number as shown on Gaudichaud's plate of Phytelephas ruizii (Gaudichaud 1866, pl. 14 [Fig. 3]). This plate may have been available to Seemann several years before it was published (see Johnston 1944) and he may partly have relied on it in his decription of Phytelephas seemannii. I have never observed any species of Phytelephas with less than 150 stamens per flower. Reproduction is often hampered by the masses of dead leaves trapped in the crowns in forest communities with many deciduous species. The pistillate inflorescences abort because they have never been exposed properly and pollinated. (Barfod, A., A monographic study of the subfamily Phytelephantoideae (Arecaceae) in Opera Botanica 105. 1991)B

Common Name

  • Anta (Quechua); sam (Cuna). (Barfod, A., A monographic study of the subfamily Phytelephantoideae (Arecaceae) in Opera Botanica 105. 1991)B

Uses

  • The seeds were exported from Panama and Colombia before World War Two. Currently a few factories located in Colombia use the hard endosperm for differnt kinds of handicrafts. (Barfod, A., A monographic study of the subfamily Phytelephantoideae (Arecaceae) in Opera Botanica 105. 1991)B

Description

  • Solitary rosette palm, with prostrate subterranean part of stem and aerial part wanting, or mid-sized palm tree with decumbent, or erect stem up to 4 m tall. Leaves 10-15, semierect to erect, evenly bending from base to apex; leaf sheath split to the base; leaf 60-100 cm long from point of insertion to blade; petiole 4—5 cm wide distally, deeply rounded abaxially, with shallow, sharply edged groove adaxially, or semiterete in cross-section, green on the adaxial face often with a drab-colored waxy covering tapering into a point below the rachis; rachis 350-550 cm long, green, with median ridge adaxially raising gradually from the distal end of the petiole, often with brown tomentum along the median adaxial ridge and the lateral faces bearing the pinnae; pinnae 75-110 per side, often drying to lustrous pale green, midnerve prominent, submarginal veins indistinct, transverse commissures often conspicuous; basal pinnae alternate, 30-60 x 0.3-0.5 cm, 1-3 cm apart or remote and pendent on long petiolate individuals, middle pinnae subalternate, 55-80 x 3.4-4.5 cm, 4-7 cm apart, distal pinnae opposite, 15-25 x 0.8-1 cm, 3-4 cm apart. Staminate peduncle 60-80 cm long, glabrous, compressed, 3.5-5 x 2-2.5 cm in cross-section in the middle part; prophyll 35-65 x 7-10 cm; first peduncular bract inserted 25-35 cm above the peduncle base, 40-55 cm long, bicarinate distally, outside light brown, inside brownish-orange; incomplete peduncular bracts 3-5, oblique, deltoid or elliptic with attenuated base, plicated basally, the proximal one 4—6 cm long; rachis 50-110 cm, compressed, 2x3 cm in cross-section in the middle part; flowers sessile, closely inserted in groups of 4(-5), or fewer proximally on rachis, distal flowers solitary; receptacle covered by masses of 300-600 stamens, expanded in width and flattened, slightly raised, rounded in outline at early anthesis, later extending to ovate or fusiform, 1.5-2 x 1-1.5 cm; perianth fused basally to receptacle and elongated forming a narrow shiny zone, only tips of the perianth segments free; filament 6-12 x 0.2 mm, subulate; anther 2-6 X 0.4-0.6 mm, shortly apiculate. Pistillate peduncle 15-25 cm long, compressed, 1.5-2.5 x 2-3.5 cm in cross-section in the middle part; prophyll 25-35 x 5-7 cm, smooth, drab-colored; first peduncular bract inserted 10-17 cm above the base, 20-30 cm long; incomplete peduncular bract 5-7, spirally arranged and covering 1.5-2.5 cm of peduncle below the bracts subtending flowers, 3-8 x 1.5-2 cm, obliquely ovate to deltoid, the proximal one with short acumen, the others increasingly narrow towards the bracts subtending flowers; flower-bearing zone 1-2 cm long, with 5-8 flowers; floral subtending bracts deltoid 3-5 x 1-1.5 cm, with long acumen; sepa-loid bracts 6-7, 4—6 cm long, narrowly deltoid with long acumen to strap shaped; tepals 6-7, 15-18 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide basally; non-functional stamens 25-35, 10-25 mm long; anther 6-9 mm long, obliquely sagitate basally, apiculum usually absent; pistil obliquely pyri-form, bulky, smooth, with 6-9 locules; style 11-13 cm long; stigmas 5-6, 5-7 cm long. Infructescences usually numerous, up to 25 on one palm, 17-25 cm in diam.; peduncle 20-30 cm long, 3-4 x 1-2 cm in cross-section in the middle part; prophyll and first peduncular bract 10-15 cm apart, partly resolved; incomplete peduncular bracts with persistent base or caducous; fruit-bearing zone 2-3 cm long, fruits 4—8, perianth early caducous; fruits 6-10 cm long, tangential face rounded in outline, 12-16 cm in diam., flat with central depression, with spiny processes of variable length from 0.5 to 2.5 cm, style residuals usually absent, abscission scar to 3.5 cm in diam.; inner mesocarp thin, with network of flattened fibres adherent to pyrene and exposed upon drying; seeds 6-9 in fully developed fruits; pyrenes rounded with blunt edges; rostrum absent or short; umbo basally on median blunt ridge, occasionally raised considerably, flattened or ridged, ovate in outline with the narrow end pointing up or upper margin emarginate. Seedling robust with three scale leaves, of which two are usually exposed above the ground; eophyll with 32-36 opposite pinnae.
    (Barfod, A., A monographic study of the subfamily Phytelephantoideae (Arecaceae) in Opera Botanica 105. 1991)B

Use Record

  • Phytelephas seemannii O.F.Cook: . Las nueces de varias especies son también un alimento apreciado, que se consume principalmente durante las correrías por la selva. Las más estimadas son las del táparo (Attalea allenii y Orbignya cuatrecasana) y las de la tagua. Estas últimas se consumen cuando la nuez está todavía muy inmadura y tiene, entonces, una textura gelatinosa y un sabor dulzón que evoca al del coco. (…). También los implementos de caza y pesca se fabrican con palmas: las cerbatanas o bodoqueras se elaboran con los tallos de las especies de Catoblastus y Wettinia; las catangas, o trampas para pescar, se construyen con matamba y chacarrá; con las semillas de la tagua se fabricaban antiguamente unos pitos eficientes para atraer a los animales de caza. (…). Pero con el despertar de un nuevo interés por los llamados “productos verdes”, sumado a la prohibición mundial del marfil de los elefantes, el marfil vegetal ha hecho su reaparición en la escena y su explotación se perfila como una alternativa de uso sostenible de los bosques de la costa. (Bernal, R., and G. Galeano, Las palmas del andén Pacífico.. 1993)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    CulturalCloth and accessoriesSeedsIndigenousNot specifiedColombia
    Human FoodFoodFruitsIndigenousNot specifiedColombia
    Utensils and ToolsHunting and fishingSeedsIndigenousNot specifiedColombia
  • Phytelephas seemannii O.F.Cook: Desde la época de la Colonia fue importante para nuestro comercio exterior el marfil vegetal,(...), que se empleaba y aun se emplea para la fabricación de botones blancos para ropa interior. (Pérez-Arbeláez, E., Plantas útiles de Colombia. 1956)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    CulturalCloth and accessoriesSeedsNot identifiedN/AColombia
  • Phytelephas seemannii O.F.Cook: El principal es por la semilla, exportada como "marfil vegetal". (Patiño,V.M., Palmas oleaginosas de la costa colombiana del Pacífico. 1977)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    OtherN/ASeedsNot identifiedN/AColombia
  • Phytelephas seemannii O.F.Cook: It is at this point that huma use begins: the peeled nuts are gathered from the ground, left to dry, and cracked open to release the seed. The seeds are eaten then processed locally into buttons or carvings. (Bernal, R., Demography of the Vegetable Ivory Palm Phytelephas seemannii in Colombia, and the Impact of Seed Harvesting. 1998)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    EnvironmentalOrnamentalSeedsNot identifiedN/AColombia
    CulturalCloth and accessoriesSeedsNot identifiedN/AColombia
  • Phytelephas seemannii O.F.Cook: Semilla. (IIAP, Investigación aplicada e implementación de buenas prácticas para el aprovechamiento y transformación sostenible de materias primas vegetales de uso artesanal en los Departamentos de Valle y Chocó. 2008)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    Utensils and ToolsOtherSeedsAfro-AmericanoN/AColombia
  • Phytelephas seemannii O.F.Cook: The chief source of the "vegetable ivory" of commerce are the Colombian tagua palms. (...). (...), are used in the manufacture of buttons, inlays, and various small ornamental articles. (Dugand, A., Palms of Colombia. 1961)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    CulturalCloth and accessoriesSeedsNot identifiedN/AColombia
    EnvironmentalOrnamentalSeedsNot identifiedN/AColombia
    Utensils and ToolsOtherSeedsNot identifiedN/AColombia
  • Phytelephas pittieri O.F.Cook: Las semillas tiernas de la tagua son comestibles, y cuando maduras son extremadamente duras, semejantes a marfil, y esporádicamente utilizadas para esculpir figuras y artesanías. (Galeano, G., R. Bernal, Palmas del Departamento de Antioquia, Región de Antioquia, Región Occidental. 1987 (as Phytelephas pittieri O.F.Cook))

Bibliography

A. World Checklist of Arecaceae
B. Barfod, A., A monographic study of the subfamily Phytelephantoideae (Arecaceae) in Opera Botanica 105. 1991