Mauritia L.f., Suppl. Pl. : 70 (1782)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Boliviapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Brazil Northpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Brazil Northeastpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Brazil Southeastpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Brazil West-Centralpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Colombiapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Ecuadorpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
French Guianapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Guyanapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Surinamepresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Trinidad-Tobagopresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Venezuelapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Two species distributed in wetter parts of Trinidad, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana and Brazil. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A



Biology And Ecology




  • Massive, solitary, unarmed, pleonanthic, dioecious, tree palms. Stem erect, partly obscured by marcescent leaf sheaths above, becoming bare basally, cortex hard, pith soft. Leaves large, reduplicate, briefly costapalmate; sheath tubular at first, splitting opposite the petiole, the margins sometimes bearing coarse fibres; petiole conspicuous, adaxially channelled near the base, otherwise circular in cross-section, smooth, unarmed; blade bearing a low crest adaxially at the base, abaxially with a low ridge; blade orbicular, divided along abaxial folds almost to the insertion into numerous crowded single-fold segments, very shortly bifid at their tips, midribs prominent, transverse veinlets not conspicuous. Inflorescences solitary, interfoliar, the staminate and pistillate superficially similar; prophyll short, tubular, 2-keeled, with 2 short triangular lobes, striate; peduncle shorter than the rachis, elliptical in cross-section, bearing numerous overlapping distichous, tubular, striate, peduncular bracts, each with a short, triangular, dorsal limb and a shallow point on opposite side; rachis bracts numerous, completely sheathing the branches, distichous, as the peduncular, each subtending a ± pendulous or spreading first-order branch; the first-order branch bearing a short, 2-keeled, striate, tubular prophyll, and 1–few empty distichous bracts, subsequent bracts tubular, flaring, short, each subtending a very short or moderate, straight or recurved rachilla; staminate rachilla catkin-like, bearing a basal, tubular, 2-keeled prophyll and crowded, spirally inserted bracts, each subtending a pair of staminate flowers, each flower bearing a basal 2-keeled bracteole; pistillate rachilla very short, not catkin-like, bearing a basal, tubular, 2-keeled prophyll, and subdistichous, ± explanate bracts, each subtending a solitary pistillate flower with a flattened, 2-keeled bracteole, and often also bearing a minute spathulate, second bracteole, with 2 minute flanges on its abaxial surface. Staminate flowers with calyx tubular, shortly 3-lobed, often densely scaly; petals 3, elongate, much exceeding the calyx, valvate, coriaceous, joined briefly at the base; stamens 6, the filaments ± free, thick, ± angled, elongate, anthers elongate, basifixed, latrorse; pistillode minute. Pollen spheroidal, symmetric; aperture either a large distal pore or a short sulcus; ectexine intectate, very finely clavate, interspersed with bottle-shaped spines set in, and loosely connected to, cavities in a wide foot layer bulging strongly inwards beneath each spine, the inner face of the foot layer finely lamellate, aperture margins similar; longest axis 54–65 µm [1/2]. Pistillate flowers larger than the staminate; calyx tubular, striate, shortly 3-lobed, often densely scaly; corolla tubular in the basal 1/3 – 1/2, with 3 valvate, elongate lobes distally; staminodes 6, connate laterally by their flattened broad filaments and adnate to the corolla at the mouth of the tube; gynoecium trilocular, triovulate, ± rounded, covered in vertical rows of reflexed scales, style short, conical, stigmas 3, ovules anatropous, basally attached. Fruit ± rounded, very large, usually 1-seeded, with apical stigmatic remains; epicarp covered in many neat vertical rows of reddish-brown, reflexed scales, mesocarp rather thick, fleshy, endocarp not differentiated. Seed rounded, attached near the base, apically with a blunt beak, testa thin, endosperm homogeneous; embryo basal. Germination adjacent-ligular; eophyll with a pair of divergent leaflets (?always). Cytology: 2n = 30. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A


Fossil record

  • Large (49–68 µm long axis) monosulcate finely clavate pollen grains with distinctive inset spines, subtended by a swelling of the foot layer — Mauritiidites (nov. gen. van Hoeken-Klinkenberg 1964, syn. Monocolpites franciscoi van der Hammen 1956) — are recorded in the Upper Cretaceous to Lower Tertiary of West Africa: Nigeria (Hoeken-Klinkenberg 1964; Jan Du Chêne 1978). Also in Babajide Salami (1985) where, although the pollen grain is smaller, the spines are not clearly inset, possibly Lepidocaryum but aperture type not described. Mauritiidites is also described from the Upper Cretaceous of Somalia (Schrank 1994). However, the record from the Zinguinchor borehole (Middle Eocene to Lower Miocene) in Senegal (Médus 1975) shows a narrow columellate infratectum that is not present in Mauritia (intectate) and, furthermore, the spines are not characteristic for Mauritia. In Saudi Arabia, Srivastava and Binda (1991) describe pollen that closely resembles Mauritia from the Lower Eocene Shumaysi Formation. In a survey of subsurface Miocene sediments from the east coast of southern India, Ramanujam et al. (1986) include spiny pollen bearing some resemblance to Mauritiidites but it is not conclusive. In northwestern South America, there are a number of Palaeocene and Eocene records for Mauritiidites, especially from Colombia (Sole de Porta 1961; van der Hammen and Garcia de Mutis 1966 — in this paper, the larger grain(s) are rather more convincing than the smaller ones; González-Guzmán 1967 — pollen not described but illustration shows an asymmetric, thick-walled grain very reminiscent of Attalea in all respects excepting the presence of sparse spinulae; Schuler and Doubinger 1970; Jaramillo and Dilcher 2001 — an excellent record, the sunken spines with underlying bulges in the foot layer clearly visible). There is also a convincing record from Venezuela (Lorente 1986). A Pleistocene core from Central Brazil, representing 28,000 years, traces the demise and re-appearance of a Mauritia palm swamp (Ferraz-Vicentini and Salgado-Labouriau 1996). Rull (1998) provides an overview of biogeographical and evolutionary considerations for Mauritia that is based on the pollen evidence. (J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008)A


Use Record

  • Mauritia L.f.: Crop in garden of household. (Salick, J., Ecological basis of Amuesha agriculture, Peruvian upper Amazon. 1989)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    EnvironmentalAgroforestryEntire plantIndigenousYaneshaPeru
  • Mauritia L.f.: Fruits are boiied in water until soft and the pulp surrounding the seed is eaten. The fruits also are used to prepare a beverage. After the fruits have been soaked in water until soft, the seed is removed and discarded. The pulp is mashed by hand and passed through a sieve. Water and sugar are mixed with the juice. The trunk and fronds are utilized in the girls' puberty rites. The trunk is cut into long stnps which are used to construct the seclusion room. Pinnae of young fronds are split, then bound together at one end to make tassels for the girl's costume. (Glenboski, L.L., The Ethnobotany Of The Tukuna Indians. 1983)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    Human FoodBeveragesFruitsIndigenousTikunaColombia
    ConstructionThatchEntire leafIndigenousTikunaColombia
    CulturalRitualEntire leafIndigenousTikunaColombia
    Human FoodFoodFruitsIndigenousTikunaColombia
  • Mauritia L.f.: Frutos ovoides de pericarpio "escamoso", dispuestos en racimos, comestibles en refresco o luego de "madurarlos" en agua tibia. Las hojas se utilizan en el techado de viviendas; la madera sirve para sacer tablas de mesones. (…). Con las hojas se techan viviendas, la madera es medianamente pesada, se usa para los pisos de las casas, cuando se tiene "yaripa", formando dos espacios. (…) Productos comestibles. Madera construcción. (…). Silvestre. Alimento; construcción. Fruto-tronco. (Garzón, N.C., Aproximación etnobotánica en la comunidad Guayabero de Barrancion-Guaviare. 1985)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    Human FoodFoodFruitsIndigenousGuayaberoColombia
    ConstructionThatchEntire leafIndigenousGuayaberoColombia
    Utensils and ToolsDomesticStemIndigenousGuayaberoColombia
    Human FoodBeveragesFruitsIndigenousGuayaberoColombia
  • Mauritia L.f.: The dead trunks of all palm trees, including Ireartea, Euterpe, Mauritia, and Jessenia, all attract palm weevils. (Alexiades, M.N., Ethnobotany of the Ese Ejja: plants, health, and change in an amazonian society. 1999)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    OtherN/AStemIndigenousEse EjjaPeru
    OtherN/AStemIndigenousEse EjjaBolivia
  • Mauritia L.f.: The leaves are employed to make thatch for the houses. The leaves are folded over laths of pona lisa wood (Iriartea sp.) and tied into place with tammische (Asplundia sp.). (Glenboski, L.L., The Ethnobotany Of The Tukuna Indians. 1983)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    ConstructionThatchEntire leafIndigenousTikunaColombia
    Human FoodFoodFruitsIndigenousTikunaColombia
    CulturalRitualEntire leafIndigenousTikunaColombia
    Human FoodBeveragesFruitsIndigenousTikunaColombia