Bactris maraja Mart., Hist. Nat. Palm. 2: 93 (1826)

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Distribution

Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/tdwg/geogrphy.html)
Boliviapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
Brazil Northpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
Colombiapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
Costa Ricapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
Ecuadorpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
French Guianapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
Guyanapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
Panamápresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
Surinamepresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
Venezuelapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)C
Widespread and common from Costa Rica south through Central America, Colombia, and into the Amazon region; lowland and premontane rain forest, on terra firme or in inundated areas, at low elevations but occasionally reaching 1500m. (Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000)B

Widespread from Central America to Bolivia, on both sides of the Andes.
Distribution in Ecuador. In Ecuador it is fairly common E of the Andes, usually on terra firme, and in the NW, where it occurs in periodically flooded land dominated by Euterpe oleracea. (Borchsenius F., Borgtoft-Pedersen H. and Baslev H. 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)A

Discussion

  • A polymorphic species divided into four varieties (Henderson, 2000).Notes for Ecuador. The Ecuadorian plants belong to var. maraja. (Borchsenius F., Borgtoft-Pedersen H. and Baslev H. 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)A
  • Bactris maraja is diagnosed by its yellowish or brownish, flattened leaf spines, 2-17 rachillae, pistillate flowers (and fruits) without a staminodial ring, and purple-black fruits. Synonymy was established by Wessels Boer (1965, 1988) and Henderson (1995).
    This species, previously known as Bactris monticola (e.g., Wessels Boer, 1965, 1988) is common, widespread, and variable and is perhaps one of the most poorly understood in the genus. There are not enough collections to resolve intraspecific variation. Henderson (1995) divided the species into three varieties, a scheme followed here, although somewhat modified. Here four varieties are recognized.
    In the first variety, called Bactris maraja by Martius and Trail, the leaf spines are flattened, yellowish at the middle and darker at the base and apex; the pinnae are broadly sigmoid, abruptly narrowed into a pendulous apex, often pilose abaxially, strongly clustered and spreading in different planes, and the apical pinnae is often wider than the others; and the peduncular bract is like cardboard and has flat, yellow spines or sometimes with short brown spinules. This variety often grows in low-lying, wet areas (and is commonly confused with B. brongniartii). There are two distinct fruit sizes, one larger and one smaller, and the form er was separated by Wessels Boer (1988) as Bactris macrocarpa. Plants with larger fruits are common in Guyana, Colombia (Chocó), and elsewhere. Some specimens have elongate fruits, but I believe these are caused by deformation. All these plants are here called var. maraja.
    The second variety, essentially a smaller version of var. maraja, is also found in low-lying, wet areas. It is smaller in all parts. In some specimens fruits are elongate (but again probably caused by some deformation). It is here called var. juruensis. This is an heterogeneous collection of specimens and may not represent a taxon. Two specimens, neither cited above (Brazil. Acre: Mun. Taumaturgo, Rio Tejo, 8°57'S, 72°33'W, 12 Mar 1992, Ferreira 128 (UFAC); Rio Juruá, above Cruzeiro do Sui, near Natal, 8°20'S, 72°15'W, 8 Feb 1992, Henderson et al. 1666 (NY)) are similar to the type of Bactris piranga, which is here treated as a synonym of var. juruensis. These may represent a distinct taxon, but more collections are needed.
    The third, common variety, usually occurring on terra firme, was called Bactris trichospatha by Trail. It often has darker spines, a densely brown-tomentose sheath and petiole, narrower pinnae that are often more or less regularly arranged, and a densely brown velutinous peduncular bract. Such plants are here called var. trichospatha.
    The fourth variety from Peru (Loreto) and Brazil (western Amazonas) has simple leaves, but is otherwise similar to var. trichospatha. It is here called var.chaetospatha. In some places, e.g., near Manaus, vars. marajaand trichospatha grow together, the former in várzea and the latter on terra firme, and are obviously distinct taxa; in other places, e.g., near Iquitos, the ecological boundary is unclear and there seem to be a number of intermediates. A few specimens appear to be hybrids with other species. (Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000)B

Common Name

  • Bolivia: chontilla conguillo, shinishëoxo (Chacabo). Brazil: marajá, marajá pupunha, tupina'i (Arawete), ubim de espinho. Colombia: chontilla, espina. French Guiana: anuyawili (Wayâpi). Guyana: bunyashiri. Panama: chunga, gui (Kuna), gui wala (Kuna), mogor (Kuna), uvita. Peru: chambira ñeja, chonlilla, ñeja, ñejilla. Suriname: piritu (Trio), piritiumë (Trio). Venezuela: piritu, uvade montaña. (Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000)B

Description

  • Understorey palm. Stems clustered, to 5 m tall and 3 cm in diameter.
    Spines on the leaf sheath and axis pale yellow to whitish grey, broad, and flat. Leaf blade 0.5-1.5 m long; pinnae 5-25 on each side, sigmoid, inserted in groups and spreading in different planes, the middle ones 15-50 cm long and 4.5-9 cm wide.
    Inflorescence 15-30 cm long; branches ca. 10, to 10 cm long, 2-3 mm in diameter. Female flowers scattered along the branches.
    ruit black, flattened at top, rostrate, smooth or rough, 1-2 cm in diameter; fruiting perianth with a 3 lobed calyx ca. half as long as the deeply 3-lobed, usually minutely bristly corolla; staminodial ring absent. (Borchsenius F., Borgtoft-Pedersen H. and Baslev H. 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)A
  • Stems solitary or cespitose, usually in open clumps of 2-15 stems, 1-7(-10) m tall, 1-4 cm diam., spiny on internodes.
    Leaves 3-10; leaf spines yellowish and then black at base and apex, or brown, flattened, to 5(-10) cm long, moderate to dense on sheath, petiole, fewer on rachis; sheath 12-35 cm long, sheath, petiole, and rachis occasionally densely brown-tomentose; ocrea to 15 cm long; petiole 13-76 cm long; rachis 30-130 cm long; pinnae (2-)6-30 per side (occasionally leaf simple), irregularly arranged in clusters of 2-5, spreading in different planes, or regularly arranged and spreading in the same plane, sigmoid to lanceolate, long-acuminate, occasionally pilose abaxially; middle pinnae 20-48 x 3-7 cm.
    Inflorescences interfoliar; peduncle 11-18 cm long, recurved, not spiny or spinulose; prophyll 8- 26 cm long; peduncular bract 15-38 cm long, whitish brown-tomentose, velvety brown-tornentose, not spiny or occasionally with flattened, yellowish or brownish spines to 8 mm long especially at the apex; rachis 1-5 cm long; rachillae 2-17, 5-15 cm long, at anthesis densely brown tomentose; triads irregularly arranged among paired or solitary staminate flowers; staminate flowers 3.5-5 mm long, deciduous; sepal lobes 0.5- 1.5 mm long; petals 3-5 mm long; stamens 6; pistillode absent; pistillate flowers 3-4 mm long; calyx tubular, 2.5-4 mm long, rarely spinulose; corolla tubular, 2.5-4 mm long, usually spinulose; staminodes absent; fruits to 1.7 cm diam., widely depressed obovoid, rostrate, purple-black, usually minutely spinulose; mesocarp juicy; endocarp depressed-oblong, the sterile pores displaced longitudinally; endocarp fibers free, numerous, with juice sacs attached; fruiting perianth with deeply 3-lobed calyx half as long as the deeply 3-lobed, often spinulose corolla, without staminodial ring. (Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000)B

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