Aiphanes erinacea (H.Karst.) H.Wendl., Palmiers : 230 (1878)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Colombia present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Ecuador present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Along the western Andean slopes from the department of Nariño in southern Colombia to the Ecuadorean province of Cotopaxi, with a s ingle (old) record from the province of Azuay. An isolated, deviating collection from the Pacific coast near Buenaventura in the Colombian department of Valle indicates that the distribution may extend further north through the department of Cauca, an area poorly explored for palms. In western Ecuador A. erinacea is common in primary and somewhat disturbed premontane forest at 700-1500 m, occasionally up to 2000 m. Individuals are often left over on cattle pasture. The single Ecuadorean population east of the Andes is found in primary or slightly disturbed forest at 1900-2 100 m. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A


  • Aiphanes erinacea is characterized by its caespitose habit; usually yellow spines on leaf sheaths and leaf rachis; plicate, incised praemorse pinnae, inserted in widely separated groups of 2-3 or rarely 4; and branched inflorescences with densely spinulose, slender rachillae. It is closely related to A. simplex; the differences are discussed under that species. A geographically isolated collection from the Pacific coast near Buenaventura in Colombia (Moore 9470) deviates in having 50-69 cm long, narrowly cuneate pinnae, 9-14 times as long as wide vs. 14-32 cm long, 1.5-4.5 times as long as wide for Ecuadorean populations, and inflorescences with only 8-14 rachillae, to 40 cm long, and inserted at large intervals along the 19-37 cm long rachis; this specimen also has spiny pollen, whereas Ecuadorean populations have pollen with densely positioned, sparsely fusing supratectal clavae. Future investigations, Particularly in the poorly explored department of Cauca, will show whether this collection represents a separate species or whether the above circumscription of A. erinacea has to be widened (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A


  • Caespitose, with 1-5, or in open areas up to 15, stems, each 1.5-5 m tall, 2.5-5 cm diam., sometimes partly decumbent, with many black spines, to 10 cm long. Leaves 3-8, erect and arching; sheath, petiole, and rachis with a brown, caducous indument; sheath 16-50 cm long, covered with brown or yellow spines, to 5 cm long; petiole 15-40(-55) cm long; rachis 80-165 cm long, normally covered with yellow spines, to 1 cm long; pinnae (8-)10-19 per side, inserted in groups of 2-3(-4) separated by 10-20 cm, in different planes, strongly plicate, narrowly to broadly cuneate, 1.3-4.5 times as long as wide, incised-praemorse at apex, symmetrical around the midrib, with a 2-9 cm long finger-like projection on the distal margin, adaxially glabrous or nearly so, abaxially and on margins minutely spinulose, sometimes both sides covered with long, yellow spinules, midrib abaxially with 0-3 yellow spines, ca. 3 cm long; basal pinnae 6-30 x 0.5-8 cm; middle pinnae 12-42 x 5-15 cm; apical pinnae 3-6 ribbed, 14-32 x 5-25 cm. Inflorescence erect or arching, once- or occasionally twice-branched; most parts with a brown, caducous indument; prophyll 26-73 cm long, 1-4 cm wide; peduncular bract up to 185 cm long, 2-5 cm wide, coriaceous, brown spinulose; peduncle 80-210 cm long, 5-10 mm diam. at apex, densely armed with slender, yellow spines, to 1 (-2.5) cm long; rachis 13-90 cm long, covered with brown to purple spinules; rachillae (4-)15-180, densely covered with brown to purple spinules, (0. 1-)0.5-1.5 mm long, basal rachilla30-55 cm long, occasionally branched with up to 20 secondary rachillae, to 25 cm long, the basal rachillae sometimes without flowers for up to 18 cm and then inserted well below the next, the following without flowers for 1-5 cm, the fertile part with triads for ½-3/4 of the length, in this part 2-3 mm diam., distally staminate, ca. ?1 mm diam.; apical rachillae 5-20 cm long, staminate, the apical rarely with a few triads at base; triads sunken into pits in the rachillae, covering the pistillate flowers for ca. ?1/3 their length, each triad subtended by a 1-2 mm high bract; dyads superficial or slightly sunken, subtended by a minute bract. Staminate flowers rose to pale violet in bud, normally pure white at anthesis. 1-2 mm long; sepals cap-shaped, carinate, imbricate, 1-1.5 mm long; petals 1-2 mm long; filaments 0.3-0.8 mm long, basally connate in a low ring, anthers 0.3-0.5 x 0.5-0.7 mm; pistillode minute, sunken into the swollen receptacle. Pistillate flowers 4-5 mm long, white with a slightly greenish pistil, petals turning pink at the end of anthesis; sepals 2.5-3 mm long; petals 4-5 mm long, with minute brown spinules abaxially on the basal half, connate for ½-2/3. valvate distally; staminodial cup 2-3 mm high, truncate, adnate to petals; pistil ca. 4 mm high, glabrous. Fruits dark red, soon turning brown or black, ca. 7 x 8 mm, shortly rostrate; endocarp ca. 5 x 7 mm, prominently pitted-grooved. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A

Materials Examined

  • Specimens examined. COLOMBIA. VALLE: Agua Dulce, an island in Buenaventura Bay, 12 Feb 1967 (fl), Moore et al. 9470 (BH). NARINO: La Planada, finca Salazar, 7 km above Ricaurte. 1750 m, (fl), Gentry et al. 35064 (COL, MO); Piedrancha, Reserva Natural La Planada, 1500-1800 m, 29 Apr 1988 (fr), Benavides 9642 (MO); ibid., 1800 m, 22 Nov 1986, Bernal & Hammel 1328 (COL, MO, PSO); beyond Junín, 700 m, 14 Nov 1946 (fl), Foster & Foster 2164a (BH). UNKNOWN DEPARTMENT: Miraflores, 1 Jan 1906 (st), unknown collector #13 (BH); unknown locality (fl), Purdie 34 (K).
    ECUADOR. AZUAY: Puentes de Guarumal, 600-900 m, 1875 (st), unknown collector s.n. (P). CARCHI: EI Pailon, ca. 45 km below Maldonado along foot path to Tobar Donoso, 800 m, 28 Nov 1979 (fl, imm fr), Madison & Besse 7125 (BH, SEL); Chical, km 12 below Maldonado on the Río San Juan, 1200 m, 26 May 1978 (fr), Madison et aL. 4567 (BH, SEL); Maldonado, 1450-1650 m, 1 Jun 1978 (fem fl), Madison el al. 4838 (SEL). COTOPAXI: Tenefuerte, km 52-54 on rd. Quevedo-Latacunga, 800-900 m, 9 Apr 1984 (st), Dodson & Thurston 14204 (MO, NY). ESMERALDAS: New rd. from Lita towards San Lorenzo, km 19, 900 m, 15 Oct 1987 (fl), Skov & Borchsenius, 64750 (AAU). Los Rios: Km 11 rd. Patricia Pilar-La Centinela on Montañas de Ila, across Río Palenque from the Biological Station, 560 m, 20 Jan 1977 (fem fl), Dodson & Young 6627 (SEL). NAPO: Rd. Baeza-Tena, km 30-34, 1950-2100 m, 4 May 1986 (fl), Balslev et al 62084 (AAU, NY, QCA); 21 Oct 1987 (imm fr), Skov & Borchsenius 64757 (AAU, QCA); (fem fl), 64758 (AAU, QCA); ibid., 17 km S of Cossanga, 2100 m, 6 May 1987 (fl), Balslev el al. 62495 (AAU). PICHINCHA: Toachi, 480 m, Oct 1883 (fl), Sodiro 187 (P); old rd. Quito-Sto. Domingo de los Colorados, 6-11 km from joint to the new rd., 1300-1500 m, 22 Mar 1986 (fl), Balslev el al. 62007 (AAU, NY, QCA, QCNE): 7 Oct 1987 (ab fr), Skov & Borchsenius 64738 (AAU); (fem fl), 64739 (AAU, QCA); 25 Nov 1987 (fr), Skov & Borchsenius 64840 (AAU); ibid., 23 km from Chiriboga, Estaeión La Palma, ca. 2000 m, 20 Jun 1982 (imm fr), Balslev 2738 (NY, QCA); rd. Quito-Pto. Quito. Km 113, 10 km N of the rd., ENDESA forest reserve, 700 m, 27 Dec 1983 (fl), Balslev & Balsecca 4666 (AAU, NY, QCA); 29 Dec 1983, Argüello & Betancourt 353 (QCA); 20 Feb 1984 (fl), Argüello 418 (K, QCA); 10 Nov 1989 (fem fl) Borchsenius 91421 (AAU, COL, NY, QCA, QCNE) ; rd. Quito-Pto. Quito, km 92, finca Limon Real, 1250 m, 21 Sep 1987 (fl, fr), Skov, Borchsenius el al. 64708 (AAU, QCA); 15 Nov 89 (fem fl), Borchsenius & Luteyn 91423 (AAU. COL, QCA,QCNE)
    (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A


    A. Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95
    B. World Checklist of Arecaceae