Aiphanes minima (Gaertn.) Burret, Notizbl. Bot. Gart. Berlin-Dahlem 11: 558 (1932)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Dominican Republicpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Puerto Ricopresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Windward Is.present (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Widely distributed in the Lesser Antilles: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Dominica, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Martinique, Barbados, and Grenada. Also a widely cultivated ornamental palm. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A



  • Aiphanes minima is easily distinguished by its large, solitary stem, and large leaves with regularly inserted, linear or nearly linear pinnae, held in one plane. It is closely related to A. aculeata, which differs in its cuneate, abruptly widening, grouped pinnae that are borne in different planes. One cultivated specimen (Kew Ace 533-58.53301) has tricuspidate pinnae that widen abruptly at the relatively wide apex, and is perhaps a hybrid between A. minima and A. aculeata; the two species are commonly planted together in botanical gardens.
    Taxonomy of the West Indian species has been confused, and several names have been in use. As treated here, the group consists of a single variable species, A. minima. This treatment is consistent with the pattern of variability observed in other species. In the latest complete treatment of Aiphanes in the West Indies, Bailey (1949) recognized five species here treated as one: A. acanthophylla in Puerto Rico, A. vincentiana in St. Vincent, A. Luciana in St. Lucia, A. erosa in Barbados, and A. minima ascribed to Martinique. The key characters for separating these were inflorescence size, armature of pinnae and peduncular bract, shape of pinnae (whether with parallel margins or widening at apex), and pitting of the endocarp. Armature and pinna shape are variable characters, and comparison of the specimens available from the different islands show no differences that could justify the recognition of more than one species. Careful examination of endocarps from fruiting specimens on all islands show a gradual variation from nearly smooth to prominently pitted and grooved, and separation of species based on this character would be impossible. Specimens with long, slender peduncle and few rachillae, corresponding to A. Luciana Bailey, are known from the understory of dense rain forest in the interior of Dominica, St. Lucia, and Martinique, at altitudes between 300 and 700 m. They show a continuous variation from 12 to 85 rachillae, and the largest inflorescences thus approach those typical for the species in other areas (100-320 rachillae), including parts of Dominica (Ernst 1701), and Martinique (A. corallina Martius). Variation in size of inflorescence is commonly observed in the genus, often in correlation with differences in habitat and altitude, and in the absence of other differences between A. minima and A. luciana, the latter has been included in synonymy. The name Bactris minima was based on a single endocarp sent to Joeseph Gaertner by the collector Hermann, without any indication of the origin. The type shows a perfect resemblance with endocarps of specimens collected on St. Vincent, including the type of A. vincentiana Bailey.
    The original description of Martinezia erosa Linden is a very brief description of a juvenile plant, just sufficient to place the name in the genus Aiphanes with certainty. No type was designated, and only the Antilles was cited as place of origin, without further detail. In a later catalogue, Linden (1881) ascribed M. erosa (?eroza") to Martinique. A specimen collected by Patin in Horto Lindeniano in 1871 , and annotated Martinezia eroa, has here been designated as lectotype. Certainly this specimen, which includes three endocarps and foliage from a young plant, must represent Linden's Martinezia erosa. Burret (1932b) transferred M. erosa to Aiphanes and provided a full description based on a specimen from Turners Hall Woods, Barbados (Eggers 7125). Though Burret actually did not typify the name, as pointed out by Read (1979), this specimen has been cited as type of A. erosa (Glassmann, 1972), and the name Aiphanes erosa has been used since for Barbadan populations of A. minima.
    Aiphanes minima undoubtedly includes several geographically or ecologically separated races, but until more substantial information about inter- and intrapopulational variation and ecology becomes available, it hardly serves any purpose to recognize more than one taxon. Possible future division in subspeciric taxa will, by the way, inevitably lead to serious problems of typification, since it will most likely be impossible to assign the single endocarp that constitutes the type of A. minima to any one of these. A similar, but less serious, problem will arise with the type of A. erosa. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A

Common Name



  • Solitary. Stem (2-)5-18 m tall, 6-20 cm diam., armed on the internodes with rings of black, flattened spines, often becoming almost unarmed with age. Leave, 10-20, spreading; petiole 15-110 cm long, armed with black, to 8 cm long spines; rachis 130- 400 cm long, unarmed or with many black spines, to 6 cm long; pinnae 18-34 per side, regularly inserted, 4-10 cm apart, all in one plane, linear, or more rarely (Puerto Rico) widening at apex, 5-12 times as long as wide, obliquely praemorse to lobulate-praemorse at apex, ± caudate on the distal margin, glabrous on both sides, abaxially unarmed, or with many black spines, to 3 cm long, adaxially often with a row of ca. 1 cm long spines on the midrib; basal pinnae 24-26 x 1-2 cm; middle pinnae 31-80 x 4-11 cm; apical pinnae 2- to several-ribbed, 25-34 x 9-22 cm. Inflorescence interfoliar, curving, once or rarely twice branched; peduncular bract 60-190 cm long, 1.5-8 cm wide, coriaceous to woody, unarmed or densely spiny, with a grey or white, caducous indument; peduncle 28-130 cm long, 3-22 mm diam. at junction with rachis, densely covered with black spines; rachis 25-150 cm long, unarmed; rachillae 12-300, with a peltate indument, often becoming glabrous; basal rachillae 10-50 cm long, with triads for ca. ½ of their length, in this part 2-4 mm diameter, distally staminate, tapering to 1-2 mm diam.; apical rachillae 5-15 cm long, staminate; triads borne superficially or in a shallow cavity in the rachilla; dyads superficial. Staminate flowers creamish white to yellow, 3-4 mm long; sepals triangular, carinate, much shorter than the petals, 0.6-3.5 mm long; petals nearly free oblong-acuminate, elongate, 3.4-6.1 mm long; filaments flattened, 0.9-1.8 mm long, anthers linear, sagittate at base, with dark connective, 1.8-2.4 x 0.5-0.9 mm; pistillode distinct, trifid, 0.4-1 mm high. Pistillate flowers creamish white to yellow, 3-4 mm long; sepals broadly ovate, free, imbricate, 1.2- 1.8 mm long; petals ovate-acute, connate for ½ of their length , valvate distally, 3.3-3.8 mm long; staminodial cup 1.2-2.5 mm high, deeply acutely lobed to nearly truncate; pistil 2.8-3 mm high, glabrous. Fruits red, 12- 16 x 14-17 mm; mesocarp mealy-fleshy; endocarp 8- 12 x 10-16 mm, weakly to prominently pitted-grooved. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A

Materials Examined

  • DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. LA VEGA: Cordillera Central, Bonao, Río Maimón, 250 m, 17 Dec 1930 (fl ), Ekmam 16429 (S); Península de Samaná, Laguna Samaná. tOO m. 3 May 1930 (fl), Ekman 14845 (G, K, NY, S, US).
    PUERTO RICO. Candelaria, near Bayamon (fr), Britton el al. 2857 (F, MO, NY, US); Fajardo and vicinity, Río Arribe, 2 Mar 1913 (fr), Britton & Shafer 1701 (F, MO, NY, US); Haystack hills, near Vega Baja, 1937 (juv), Horn s.n. (BH); Maricao, 30 Nov 1884 (juv), Sintenis 484 (BM, G, GH, K, US); Pueblo Viejo, 19 Jul 1914 (fl), Stevenson 2105 (NY, US); Punas Apuesto, Vega Baja, Dec 1899 (st), Goll 1044 (NY, US); Vega Baja of Espinosa, Apr 1927 (fr), Barker s.n. (BH); near Toa Alta, 29 Mar 1923 (fl. fr). Britton & Britton 7854 (G, NY); near Toa Baja, 100 m, 2 Jun 1954 (fl, fr), Little 16305 (BM, GH. NY); near Vega Alta, May 1932 (fl, fr), Bailey 61 (BH, MO); near Hato Grande, 31 Aug 1885 (fl), Sintenis 2628 (BM, F, FI, G, GH, K, LE, M, MO, NY, US); near Yuncos, mount Hormigas, 19 Sep 1885 (fl, fr), Sintenis 2500 (BM, F, FI, G, GH, K, LE, M, MO, NY, US); vicinity of Utuado, 7 Mar 1915 (st), Britton 5230 (NY); 15 Mar 1906 (fl, imm fr), Britton & Cowell 396 (F, NY); 19 Mar 1906 (imm fr), Britton & Marble 396 (US); between Utuado and Arecibo, 13 Mar 1906 (st), Britton & Marble 789 (NY, US); UNKNOWN LOCALITY: 7 Aug 1915 (st), FLS 7767 (NY); 7 Mar 1923 (fl, imm fr), Britton & Brtlton 7829 (US).
    DOMINICA. Layou River, Clark Hall Estate. 15 m, 16 Jun 1964 (fr). Ernst 1701 (US); W of Salybia in Carib Reserve, 1 Mar 1942 (fr), Taylor 126 (BH, GH); S slope above Beux Branches tributary of Pagua River, 300 m, 13 Jun 1964 (fl , fr), Ernst 1673 (US); ca. ½ mile W of Pagua River. 20 Jun 1964 (fl, fr), Ernst 1709 (US). MARTINIQUE: Piton du Champflore. Nov 1867 (fl), Hahn 347 (BM, G, GH). UNKNOWN LOCALITY: 1871 (fl), Hahn 1135 (GH, K, US)
    SAINT LUCIA: Fonds SI. Jaques, 700 m. 19 Mar 1889 (fl), Remage s.n. (BM, K, NY); Mourne Lacombe, 250 m, 9 Dec 1943 (fr), J. Beard J 73 (BH); Bar d'Isle, above Castries. 2 Feb 1932 (fl, imm fr), Loomis 35 (BH, US); Castries, Piton Flore, 15 Sep 1945 (fl , fr), J. Beard 484 (BH); Piton Flore, (fl), P. Beard 1058, 1059 (MICH); ibid., 625 m, 16 Mar 1971 (fl). Howard &: Weaver 17935 (A); Quilesse, on trail to head of Murray rd., 1 May 1950 (fl), Howard 11696 (BH); near Quilesse, to Apr 1938 (fl, fr), Box 1760 (BM). UNKNOWN LOCALITY: 1879 (fr), Murray s.n. (K).
    SAINT VINCENT. Cumberland valley, 27 Jan 1963 (fr), Lee s.n. (BH); Kingshill, seasonal forest. 27 Nov 1945 (fr), P. Beard J 374 (MICH); unknown locality (juv), Unknown collector 239 (K)
    BARBADOS. Turners Hall Woods, Jan 1890 (fl, imm fr), Eggers 7135 (FI, K, US); (fr), 7175 (B); 17 Nov 1891 (juv), Warming 83 (C); 6 Feb 1922 (fl, fr), Bailey & Bailey 291 (BH); Nov 1945 (fl), J. Beard 624 (BH); 4 Mar 1948 (imm fr), Bailey 428 (BH); 19 Jun 1974 (fr), Read 74-218 (US); gulch near Ape's hill, 1 Feb 1922 (st), Bailey & Bailey 352 (BH); near Battisheba, base of cliffs, 22 Feb 1924 (fr), Miller 93; St. John. Newcastle. 09 Feb 91 (st), Carrington 1590, 1592, 1610, 1611 (AAU); (fl), 1595, 1596, 1609 (AAU); (fr), 1598, 1612 (AAU); SI. Thomas, Welchmann Hall (juv), Carrington 1613 (AAU).
    CULTIVATED MATERIAL. BARBADOS: Cardington College, May 1933, Johnstone s.n. (B): BELGIUM:, Horto Lindeniana, Herb. Beccari s.n. (FI), BRAZIL: Rio de Janeiro, Bailey & Bailey 594 (BH); Dahlgren 611704 (F), BRITISH GUYANA: Georgetown, Promenade Gardens, May 1922, Dahlgren s.n. (F), Ceylon ; Peradeniya garden, Jul 1935, Johnston 1672 (B), CUBA: Cienfuegos, Soledad, Aikins Gardens, Moore 6102, 6118, 6129 (BH); Santiago de las Vegas, Jun 1938, Acuña s.n. (BH); 1 Apr 1938, Bailey 337 (BH), DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Puerto Plata, Sep 1981, Zanoni et al. 16879 (NY), ENGLAND: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Kew Acc 533-58.53301 (BH, K); Leon .s.n. (K), GERMANY: Palm seeds purchased from Haage and Schmidl. Erfut, Cornell 416253 (BH) GUADELOUPE: Belle Terre, Duss 3815 (FI); INDONESIA: Java, Bogor Bolanic Garden, Herb. Beccari 90 (FI); 411 (FI); Sumatra, Botanic Garden, Lörzing 12134 (K), Jamaica: Bailey 15014 (BH); Hope gardens, Unknown collector 86 (K), MARTINIQUE: Duss s.n. (FI), PANAMA: Canal Zone. Summit Gardens, Jul 1931, Bailey & Bailey 440 (BH), PUERTO RICO: Federal Experiment Station, May 1922, Bailey 60 (BH); Dorado Beach Country Club, Jun 1968, Read & Woodbury 20550 (US). SINGAPORE: Bolanic Gardens, Unknown collector s.n. (BM); TRINIDAD: Mar 1921, Bailey & Bailey s.n. (BH) UNITED STATES: Fairchild Tropical Garden, Hull H-2 (BH); Dec 1969, Hull 10068 (FTG); Jan 1965, Read 1357 (BH, FTG); Mar 1975, Hill 2632 (FTG); Moore 5849 (BH); Oct 1978. Fantz 3469 (FTG); VENEZUELA: Caracas, Parque Nacional el Piñar, Delgaso 287 (G) (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A