Bactris bifida Mart., Hist. Nat. Palm. 2: 105 (1826)

Primary tabs


Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Brazil North present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Colombia present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Peru present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Mostly south of the Amazon river in Colombia (Amazonas), Peru (Huanuco, Loreto, San Martin, Ucayali), and western Brazil (Acre, Amazonas); lowland rain forest either on terra firme or more commonly in areas liable to seasonal inundation or other wet places, at 106-600 m elevation (Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000)A


  • Bactris bifida is diagnosed by its long, narrow, simple, strongly plicate leaves, deeply bifid apically and cuneate basally, staminodial ring, and ellipsoid, purple-black fruits. Synonymy was established by Henderson (1995), although he (and Henderson et aI., 1995) included B. angustifolia as a synonym of B. tomentosa var. sphaerocarpa, it properly belongs here.
    There is considerable variation in the size of the leaves; specimens from the Andean foothills of Peru have much larger leaves than usual (Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000)A

Common Name

  • Brazil: ubim de espinho. Peru: ñeja negra (Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000)A


  • Stems cespitose, forming small or large clumps, often leaning, 1-4 m tall, 1-2 cm diam., the internodes usually not spiny.
    Leaves 4-10; leaf spines solitary and scattered, brown or black, to 8 cm long, on lateral surfaces of sheath, petiole, and rachis; sheath 12-28 cm long, very fibrous on margins; ocrea to 10 cm long, becoming fibrous; petiole (0-)12-22(-100) cm long; rachis 40-70 cm long; blade simple or rarely pinnate proximally, long cuneate basally, deeply bifid apically, strongly plicate, with a metallic sheen on drying; blade 40-100 cm long, 12-20 cm wide at apex of rachis.
    Inflorescences interfoliar; peduncle 15-25 cm long, straight or slightly recurved, not spiny; prophyll 8-13 cm long; peduncular bract 16-25 cm long, sparsely covered with black spines to 5 mm long; rachillae 1-2,4-6.5 cm long, at anthesis glabrous or with a few flexuous trichomes; triads regularly arranged, these interspersed with paired or solitary staminate flowers; staminate flowers 3-6 mm long, deciduous; sepal lobes 1-1.5 mm long; petals 3-5.5 mm long; stamens 6; pistillode absent; pistillate flowers 3-4 mm long; calyx tubular, 3-4 mm long; corolla tubular, 2.5-3.5 mm long; staminodial ring obscure, 0.5 mm long; fruits 2-2.5 x 1-1.5 cm, narrowly ellipsoid, ovoid, or ellipsoid-oblong, purple-black, sometimes minutely spinulose; mesocarp juicy; endocarp ellipsoid, the sterile pores displaced longitudinally, the fertile pore displaced latitudinally; endocarp fibers free, numerous, with juice sacs attached; fruiting perianth with short calyx and much longer, crenate corolla, staminodial ring present. (Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000)A

Use Record

  • Bactris bifida Mart.: Bactris bifida is one of at least seven wild species in the genus with edible fruits that grow in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. (Smith, N., R. Vásquez, and W. H. Wust 2007: Amazon river fruits. Flavors for Conservation)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    Human FoodBeveragesFruitsNot identifiedN/APeru
    Human FoodBeveragesFruitsNot identifiedN/APeru
  • Bactris bifida Mart.: Bactris bifida Mart. Español: Nejilla, Neja negra Usos: Alimenticio — Los frutos maduros son comestibles. Comunidad: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12–16, 18–21, 23–27. Voucher: H. Balslev 6604. (Balslev, H., C. Grandez, et al. 2008: Useful palms (Arecaceae) near Iquitos, Peruvian Amazon)


    A. Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000
    B. World Checklist of Arecaceae