Aiphanes gelatinosa H.E.Moore, Gentes Herb. 8: 227 (1951)

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Map uses TDWG level 3 distributions (
Colombiapresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Ecuadorpresent (World Checklist of Arecaceae)B
Found on the western Andean slopes in southern Colombia and northern Ecuador, in premontane rain forest. at 800-1650 m. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A


  • Aiphanes gelatinosa is easily recognized by its large leaves with linear or narrowly cuneate pinnae and its large, often multiple inflorescences with appressed, basally thickened rachillae. The name refers to the gelatinous substance in which infructescences are sometimes encased. Aiphnnes gelatinosa is known in two morphological forms that may represent distinct taxa. Plants with caespitose stems, single inflorescences, and spiny pollen (A. gelatinosa s.str.) are known only from the type locality of the pecies, in the Colombian department of Nariño, right between the two areas from which the solitary form with multiple inflorescences and pollen without spines, here referred to as "triplex," is known (Colombian department of Valle and northern Ecuador, respectively). Knowledge of the species from more localities seems necessary in order to judge the taxonomic significance of these differences, particularly considering the great morphological variation that occurs in related species, e.g., A. hirsuta. The production of single or multiple inflorescence could be a question of age and perhaps environmental conditions of individual plants, as suggested by observations of Paralinospadix hollrungii, an Arecoid palm native to New Guinea which has multiple inflorescences apparently of the same kind (Fisher & Moore, 1974). In this species, young plants produce a single inflorescence per node, whereas older plants produce two or three inflorescences sharing a common, chambered prophyll. The difference in pollen morphology between the two forms of A. gelatinosa should be viewed in the light of the variability in exine ornamentation that occurs in the related A. hirsuta, where spiny, clavate, and rugulate pollen occur. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A


  • Solitary or caespitose. Siems 4-9 m tall, 5.5-10 cm diam., basally with up to 100 cm long prop roots; internodes armed with black, retrorse, to 20 cm long spines. Leaves 4-11, erect and arching, lower ones borne horizontally; sheath and petiole 60-160 cm long, armed with black spines, to 12 cm long, these
    fewer distally and only to 2 cm long, petiole sometimes only a few cm long; rachis 110-400 cm long, with a grey or brown, scaly, caducous indument, armed with numerous spinules and few to many black spines, to 2 cm long, fewer and shorter distally; pinnae 16-30 per side, regularly inserted, or in lax groups of 2-4 separated by up to 14 cm, in one or several planes, weakly to strongly plicate, often very rigid, linear to narrowly cuneate, 5-12 times as long as wide, obliquely praemorse at apex, or incisedpraemorse and then symmetrical around the midrib, with a 0-3 cm long finger-like projection on the distal margin, glabrous or with scattered scales and minute spinules abaxially; basal pinnae 20-30 x 2-2.5 cm; middle pinnae 48-60 x 3.5-14 cm; apical pinnae 3-4 ribbed, 33-45 x 11-12 cm. lnflorescences interfoliar, 1 or 3 per node, then sharing a common, 3-chambered prophyll, curving, becoming pendulous, branched to 1 order with apprcssed rachillae, sometimes encased in jelly in fruit; prophyll 50-72 x 7-8.5 cm; peduncular bract ca. 60 cm long or more, to 10 cm wide, thick, unarmed or spiny at apex, with a thick, brown, caducous indument; peduncle 60-110 cm long at anthesis, 5-10 mm in diam. at apex, in fruit up to 240 cm long, densely armed (at least distally) with brownish black spines, to 2(- 5) cm long; rachis ca. 30 cm long, armed like peduncle, but spines shorter distally; rachillae 15-30, white at anthesis, appressed to rachis, the distal ones somewhat spreading; basal rachillae to 20 cm long, armed with black, crimped spines to 1 cm long, the proximal half thickened, to 1.5 cm wide, with densely packed triads, basally only with flowers abaxially, distal half slender, 2-3 mm diam., with densely packed staminate dyads; apical rachillae 8-10 cm long, slender, staminate; triads sunken into deep pits, staminate flowers borne marginally on 2-3 mm long pedicels; dyads borne in shallow cavities, surrounded by fused, ca. 1 mm tall bracts, the proximal flower of each dyad sessile, the distal with a ca. 1 mm long pedicel. Staminate flowers white or cream, 1.5-2.5 mm long; sepals narrowly triangular, not overlapping, 1-2 x 0.5-1 mm; petals basally connate, valvate, 2-2.5 x 1.5- 2 mm; filaments ca. 0.5 mm long, anthers slightly longer than wide, 0.4-0.7 x 0.5-0.7 mm; pistillode minute, sunken into the swollen, 0.7-0.8 mm thick receptacle. Pistillate flowers white, with green ovary and pale pink stigmas, ca. 7 mm long; sepals broadly ovate, imbricate, 2-6 mm long, much shorter than petals and then enclosed in the flower pit, or enclosing the petals entirely; petals very thick, connate for 1/3 of their length, valvate distally, ca. 6-7 x 5 mm; staminodial cup 3-4 mm tall, nearly truncate; pistil glabrous. Fruits red with black apex, brown or shiny black at maturity, subglobose, somewhat acute at base, 12-15 x 13-17 mm, green on basal unexposed part, rostrate 1-2 mm; endocarp 11 - 14 x 13-16 mm, more or less acute at base, prominently pitted and irregularly grooved. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A

Materials Examined

  • COLOMBIA. NARIÑO: 4 km past Junín on rd. to Altaquer, 1200 m, 6 Oct 1985 (fl, imm fr), Bernal & Galeano 901 (AAU. COL); (fr), 904 (COL). VALLE: Old rd. Cali-Buenaventura, km 50, 1 km W of Queremal, 12 Mar 1975 (fem fl, fr), Anderson 31 (BH); ibid., 6-7 km below Queremal. 1200-1300 m, 22 Mar 1988 (fl. fr), Bernal & Prado 1448 (COL, FTG, TULV)
    ECUADOR. CARCHI: Environs of Maldonado, 1450-1650 m, 30 May 1978 (fr), Madison et al. 4804 (SEL); EI Pailon, ca. 45 km below Maldonado along foot path to Tobar Donoso, 800 m, 30 Nov 1979 (fl, fr), Madison & Besse 7187 (BH, K, QCA, SEL); trail Gualpi Alto-La Guana, km 3, on highest point, 1000 m, 15 May 1985 (fem fl, fr), Barfod & Skov 60003 (AAU, COL, MO, NY, QCA). (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A