Aiphanes verrucosa Borchs. & Balslev, Nordic J. Bot. 9: 389 (1990)

Primary tabs

no image available


Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Ecuadorpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Endemic to a small area of the Andes in southern Ecuador, in primary or disturbed montane forest, between 2200 and 2800 m, The montane forests in these areas are subject to burning and felling for firewood, and the palm population at the type locality, currently the only known population of A. verrucosa, will probably become extinct in the near future. So far it has not been found inside the nearby Parque Nacional de Podocarpus, but it likely occurs also within the park and will thus probably be preserved. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A



  • Caespitose, with up to 6 stems and several basal suckers. Stems 2-5(-8) m tall , 4-5 cm diam., fiercely armed with black spincs, to 8 cm long. Leaves 3-5, normally 4, distichous, erect and arching; sheath, petiole, and rachis with a thick, white, caducous indument; sheath 40-50 cm long, covered with black spines, to 10 cm long; petiole ca. 6 cm long; rachis 85-115 cm long, with numerous black spines, to 5 cm long; pinnae 58-70 per side, inserted in groups of 4-11 separated by 5-8 cm, in several planes, lanceolate, praemorse at apex, distal margin 1-2 cm longer than the proximal, both sides with black spinules, midrib adaxially with a row of thin spines, 2-7 mm long, abaxially with 0-4 rigid spines, to 4 cm long, margins with a row of spinules, 2-4 mm long; basal pinnae 19-31 x 0.5-1 cm; middle pinnae 35-40 x 1.5-2.5 cm; apical pinnae 2-7 ribbed, 11-14 x 1-5 cm. Inflorescence erect at anthesis, curved in fruiting stage, branched to 1 order; prophyll, peduncular bract, and peduncle with a thick, white indument; prophyll 28-40 cm long; peduncular bract 70-110 cm long, inserted 2-5 cm above prophyll, light green in vivo, thick, with some spines, to 3 cm long; peduncle 60-90 cm long, 0.5-1 cm diam. at junction with rachis, armed with numerous brown spines, 2-6 cm long; rachis 20-26 cm long, minutely spinulose; rachillae 50-65, minutely spinulose, each subtended by a light green bract, small or up to 4 cm long; basal rachillae to 22 cm long, with flowers nearly from the base, basal 4-6 cm thickened with up to 8 triads, the remaining part slender, ca. 1 mm diam., with dyads of staminate flowers; apical rachillae to 10 cm long, staminate; triads slightly sunken, each subtended by an up to 8 mm long bract that covers the pistillate flower for ½ its length or more; dyads superficial, each subtended by a small bract, ca. 1 mm long. Staminate flowers creamish yellow, 3-5 mm long, those of triads borne on a 6-8 mm long pedicel partly adnate to the rachilla, those of dyads shortly pedicellate; sepals narrowly triangular, distinct or slightly imbricate, covering ½, of the petals or less, 1,5-3 mm long; petals free, valvate, 2.2-4 mm long; filaments ca. 1.5 mm long, anthers linear, 1.4-2.5 x 0.5-0.8 mm; pistillode distinct, ca. 0.5 mm high, trifid. Pistillate flowers 9-11 mm long, each subtended by an up to 5 mm long bracteole; sepals ovate, imbricate, 5-9 mm long; petals connate for ½-?, of their length, valvate distally, 9-11 mm long; staminodial cup 4-5 mm high, distinctly toothed, adnate to corolla tube; pistil ca. 6 mm high, glabrous. Fruit greenish white at maturity, globose, ca. 30 mm diam., first smooth, soon corky-verrucose at apex; mesocarp dry, 2-3 mm thick, cracking open and persistent on the rachillae while the endocarp drops; endocarp ca. 25 mm diam., shallowly pitted apically. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A

Materials Examined

Use Record

  • Aiphanes verrucosa Borchs. & Balslev: Aiphanes verrucosa (chonta) is endemic to southeastern Ecuador, where it grows between 1800 and 2800 m above sea level. This multi-stemmed palm has clustered black spines and large inflorescences with greenish-white spherical fruits (2–3 cm diameter). The fruits are eaten raw or poached. The leaves are used for thatching. (Van den Eynden, V., E. Cueva, and O. Cabrera, Edible palms of Southern Ecuador. 2004)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    ConstructionThatchEntire leafMestizoN/AEcuador
    Human FoodFoodFruitsMestizoN/AEcuador