Syagrus vermicularis Noblick, Palms (1999+) 48: 111 (2004)

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Brazil, state of Maranhão (midwestern portion) near Açailandia and Imperatriz, Maranhão, state of Para (at least in the mid-eastern part) near Serra Carajás and the Rio Paraupebas and probably the northern part of the state of Tocantins. (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus vermicularis, a Fascinating New Palm from Northern Brazil)A


  • A study of the leaf anatomy reveals that just below the upper leaf epidermis, there is a continuous one-cell thick layer of sclerenchyma fibers that is present in more or less all Amazonian species and in a few Atlantic coastal species of Syagrus. The Amazonian Syagrus are S. sancona, S. inajai, S. orinocensis, S. stenopetala, S. cocoides, S. smithii and S. stratincola. The closely related Syagrus from the Atlantic Forest are S. botryophora and S. pseudococos. Seeds collected in September 1994 and sown before the end of the month started germinating shortly after mid-October and continued until February of 1995. No plants resulted from the holotype collection, MBC accession number 94694, due to its immature fruit. However, another more mature MBC seed accession, 94690, collected from the same Açailandia population is represented at MBC by 25 plants. Additional seed was collected and donated by Bernard Fischer in 1996 and is represented in the garden by two plants, accession 96364. Bernard’s collection came from a specimen that had four instead of the usual three basal pores on the endocarp. In summary, Syagrus vermicularis is easily distinguished from other Syagrus by long, sterile, strongly folded inflorescence tips, by a peduncular bract that frequently is shed before the inflorescence reaches full maturity (not yet observed in any other species of Syagrus); prominent trilobed endocarp beak (seen only occasionally in S. botryophora); and the young attractive trunk covered (at least initially) with a dense white cauducous tomentum. (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus vermicularis, a Fascinating New Palm from Northern Brazil)A

Biology And Ecology

  • In pre-Amazonian seasonally wet, marginal or secondary forests on terra firme with deep lateritic clay soils on rolling or steep hilly slopes at ca. 100–200 m. elevation. Often growing in open pastures. Also seen on lower slopes adjacent to river floodplains. Other palms present were Oenocarpus bataua, Oenocarpus disticus, Attalea maripa (Maxmiliana maripa) with Euterpe oleracea in the low lying areas. PHENOLOGY: Many of the trees in September had immature developing fruits. A small number had mature fruits and fewer still had flowers. Fortunately, I found a few sporadic inflorescences, but all contained only male flowers. I found this initially perplexing, but after growing them at MBC, it has been observed that the first few inflorescences of young palms do frequently produce only male flowers and often these flower outside their normal season. However, it must be noted that female flower bearing inflorescences were observed opening at MBC in September. (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus vermicularis, a Fascinating New Palm from Northern Brazil)A


  • Syagrus vermicularis is threatened by the heavy lumbering practices that are reducing the regional forests to pasture. However, this palm species seems to thrive in secondary growth and farmers often maintain the trees in their pastures. (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus vermicularis, a Fascinating New Palm from Northern Brazil)A

Common Name

  • pati. It is interesting to note that this same common name is also applied to S. botryophora from the Atlantic coastal rain forest (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus vermicularis, a Fascinating New Palm from Northern Brazil)A


  • Solitary palm tree. Stem erect, 10 m tall, ca. 12–20 cm diam., basally with a large root boss to ca. 45 cm diam., distally stem very conspicuously ringed with oblique leaf scars, new internodes densely covered with white caducous wooly indument; internode ca. 9–17 cm long. Leaves ca. 12–15 in crown, spirally arranged and spreading; leaf sheath plus petiole ca. 90–100 cm long × ca. 18–20 cm wide at the base, composed of finely-netted matting of fibers breaking away easily and leaving a finely fibrous margin on the apparent petiole, apparent petiole adaxially channeled and abaxially rounded and covered adaxially with wooly caducous indument; true petiole 6–8 cm long, ca. 3.1–4.4 cm wide and 1.5–2.2 cm thick at the base of the leaf blade; rachis 2.2–2.5 m long with ca. 100–140 pairs of leaflets distributed in clusters of 2–3 along the rachis in various divergent planes; middle leaflets ca. 80–90 cm long × 3–4 cm wide. Infloresence interfoliar, androgynous, erect in bud, later horizontal; peduncle 60–61 cm long × 4 cm wide × 2 cm thick; peduncular bract ca. 90–103 cm long including a beak 4–5 cm and the expanded or inflated part of the bract measuring ca. 55–65 × 27–29 cm and with a perimeter 33–37 cm, 5–9 mm thick, often separating from the peduncle before the fruits reach full maturity; rachis 49–52 cm long; rachillae ca. 70–100, apical ones ca. 54 cm long and basal ones ca. 118 cm, a major part of the distal portion of the rachillae devoid of any flowers, sterile and folded back and forth on themselves like dried noodles or worms. Flowers bright yellow drying white or cream-colored. Staminate flowers near the base ca. 9–10 mm long, sessile; sepals 3, distinct, triangular, imbricate but briefly connate at base, acute, membranaceous, glabrous; petals 3 distinct, unequal, obovate, valvate, fleshy, glabrous, with inconspicuous venation, ca. 8–9 × 4 mm, obtuse to broadly acute; stamens 6, distinct, 4–5 mm long, with filaments 1.5 mm long; pistillode trifid, less than 0.5 mm long. Pistillate flowers, conical, sessile; sepals glabrous, without visible venation, sclerenchymous or fleshy, imbricate, ca. 9–10 × 8–9 mm, acute, faintly keeled at tip; petals 3, distinct, imbricate at base, valvate at apex with valvate tip ca. 2–3 mm long, triangular, indistinctly nerved, glabrous, 11 × 8–9 mm, acute; gynoecium of receptive flower ovoid, 9 × 7 mm, covered in wooly tomentum, persisting on the apex of the fruit; stigmas 3, ca. 2 mm long; staminodal ring ca. 3 mm long, undulate with ca. 6 undulations and three small residual teeth, one on every other undulation. Fruits orange when mature, 5–6 × 4 cm, ovoid; cupule (persistent perianth) dark brown, ca. 2 cm in diam. × ca. 1 cm high; petals slightly longer than sepals; staminodial ring truncate, ca. 3 mm high × 10 mm diam.; epicarp smooth for most part but tomentose at apex; mesocarp fleshy, fibrous or pulpy remaining as a fibrous mat over endocarp; endocarp ovoid, 4.5–5 × ca. 3.5–4 cm, ca. 6 mm thick, hard, bony, brown to red-brown, apex with a distinctive, trilobed protuberance or beak, interior smooth, trivittate, slightly triangular in cross-section, outer surface nearly smooth, with small fibers, only slightly pitted, pores 3(–4) nearly even with surface, sutures visible especially at apex. Seed 1, elliptical, 3 × 2.5–3.2 cm; endosperm homogeneous. Germination remote tubular with cotyledonary tube penetrating deeply before sending up a plumule; eophyll simple, lanceolate. (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus vermicularis, a Fascinating New Palm from Northern Brazil)A

Materials Examined

  • SPECIMENS EXAMINED. BRAZIL: Maranhão, Açailandia, Fazenda Itaibaiana (Companhia Vale do Rio Doce), ca. 17 km S. on BR 10 km 1, Lat. 05º 02’ S, Long. 47º 01’ W, 6 Sep 1994, L. R. Noblick & J. A. Feitosa 4971 (Holotype IPA; Herbarium of Fazenda Itaibaiana, FTG, K, MO, NY, US); Açailandia, 5–6 km S. of the city on BR-010 (Açailandia/Imperatriz road), Lat. 05º 02’ S, Long. 47º 01’ W, 8 Sep 1994 L. R. Noblick et al. 4974 (FTG, IPA, K, NY); Par, Marab: Carajás – Marab Highway, 8 km from the entrance to Serra Carajás, 20 Apr 1985. A. B. Anderson & M. Rosa 2202 (MG); Parauapebas, Serra dos Carajás, fazenda em Parauapebas [ranch in Parauapebas]; J. B. P. Rocha & J. P. Silva 666 12 Jan 1990 (Herbarium of Carajás – HCJS); J. P. Silva 695 12 Jan 1990; Proximo Sitio de Chagas [Near Chagas farm, margin of the Parauapeba River, Raimundo Mascarenha road]; J. P. Silva 650 19 Oct 1990 (Herbarium of Carajás – HCJS). (Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus vermicularis, a Fascinating New Palm from Northern Brazil)A


    A. Noblick, L. 2004: Syagrus vermicularis, a Fascinating New Palm from Northern Brazil