Aiphanes deltoidea Burret, Notizbl. Bot. Gart. Berlin-Dahlem 11: 568 (1932)

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The distribution of A. deltoidea is insufficiently known, but the few collections indicate that it is widely distributed in the western part of the Amazon basin along the Andean foothills, from southern Colombia to Peru, reaching 1650 m in central Peru. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A


  • Aiphanes deltoidea is incompletely known, and more collections are needed to give a picture of its variation. It is closely related to A. weberbaueri, from which it can be distinguished by its larger leaves with a 90-105 cm long petiole and a 140-190 cm long rachis (vs. 13-46 cm and 56-120 cm, respectively, in A. weberbaueri). Inflorescences of A. deltoidea are correspondingly larger, with 50-60, slender rachillae (vs. 5-35, often thickened rachillae in A. weberbaueri). Furthermore, A. deltoidea has orange staminate flowers, (vs. purple in A. weberbaueri). The two collections from the type locality demonstrate that A. deltoidea is variable in habit. The type specimen was caespitose, with two 1.5-2 m tall stems and several smaller ones, whereas a specimen collected in May 1990 (Kahn & Borchsenius 2556) was solitary and almost acaulescent. There are no collections of mature fruits, but field notes to Moore et al. 8358 state that immature fruits were green, 22 mm long and 19 mm wide; dry immature fruits in the material measure ca. 10 x 7 mm. The original description stated that fruits were small, sweet, and edible, but extant material does not include fruits. Fruits of A. weberbaueri are ca. 12 x 10 mm, and purple.
    Size differences similar to those discussed above are known in other species, and should perhaps not be overemphasized. As seen at its type locality, A. deltoidea nevertheless gave the impression of being clearly distinct from A. weberbaueri, with which it was co-occurring. For this reason it has been maintained as a separate species. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A

Common Name

  • Shicashica (Peru) (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A


  • Fruits are edible, "small but sweet" (notes to type collection). (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A


  • Solitary, or caespitose with 2 large stems and several small ones. Stem 0.1-2 m tall, ca. 6 cm in diam., armed with grey (black when dried), flat spines, to 6 cm long, standing at right angles to the trunk. Leaves 10-12, erect and arching; sheath ca. 30 cm long, armed with spines similar to those on trunk; petiole 90-105 cm long, green, with a thin, brown, caducous indument, and scattered, black spines, to 6 cm long; rachis 115-190 cm long, with indument and spines like the peduncle, but spines fewer; pinnae 11-14 per side, inserted in groups of 2-3, in different planes, groups occupying 3-5 cm along the rachis, separated by 20-35 cm, pinnae cuneate, 1.5-3 times as long as wide, lobulate or obliquely praemorse at apex, with an up to 5 cm long finger-like projection on the distal margin, glabrous adaxially, shortly spinulose and rough abaxially; basal pinnae ca. 28 x 2.5 cm; middle pinnae 19-32 x 8-14 cm; apical pinnae 3-4 ribbed, 20-25 x 13-28 cm. Inflorescence interfoliar, curving, branched to 1 order; prophyll 20-30 cm long, ca. 2 cm wide; peduncular bract ca. 90 cm long, 2 cm wide, thin, soon withering, unarmed, with a light brown, caducous indument; peduncle 55-170 cm long, 4-8 mm diam. at junction with rachis, almost unarmed or covered with black spines, to 1 cm long; rachis 30-45 cm long; rachillae 49-60, minutely spinulose; basal rachillae 40-45 cm long, ca. 3 mm wide at base, tapering to < 1 mm diam. at apex, proximal half with triads or tetrads of 2 pistillate and 2 staminate flowers, distal half with dyads of staminate flowers; apical rachillae 6-8 cm long, staminate; triads and tetrads sunken into shallow, elongate cavities in the rachillae, each subtended by a minute bract, forming a <1 mm high rim around the cavity; dyads superficial. Staminate flowers orange, ca. 1 x 1.5 mm; sepals half as long as petals, not imbricate, ca. 1 x 0.5 mm; petals briefly connate at base, 1.5-2 x 1-1.5 mm; filaments ca. 0.5 mm long, basally fused in a ring around the pistillode; anthers almost square, 0.3-0.4 x 0.3 mm; pistillode globose, ca. 0.4 mm diam. Pistillate flowers light green, ca. 2 x 3 mm (before staminate anthesis); sepals broadly ovate, membranous, imbricate, almost enclosing petals, ca. 2 x 3-4 mm; petals connate for half their length, valvate distally, 2-2.5 x 2-2.5 mm in bud, ca. 4 x 4 mm in young fruit, corolla lobes rounded, recurved at anthesis; staminodial cup nearly truncate, ca. 1.5 mm high in bud, 3 mm in young fruit; pistil glabrous. Fruits not seen. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A

Materials Examined

  • COLOMBIA. AMAZONAS: Rio Cahuinari, between Lake Carijona and Lake pescado, 300 m, 9 Sep 1988 (st), Oaleano & Mirana 1676 (AAU, COL).
    PERU. AMAZONAS: Prov. Bagua (limit with Loreto, Alto Amazonas), mouth of Rio Santiago, 160 m, 21 May 1990 (imm fr), Kahn & Borchsenius 2556 (AAU, COL, NY, USM). HuANUCO: Prov. Tingo Maria, above Tea Gardens headquarters on rd. from Tingo Maria to Divisoria, 1500-1650 m, 27 Apr 1960 (imm fr), Moore et al. 8358 (BH, USM). UCAYALI OR LORETO: Rio Ucayali, (probably also cultivated in the Botanical Garden of Museu Goldi, Para, Brazil), 3 Jun 1908 (fl), Huber 3411 (FI).
    BRAZIL. AMAZONAS: Rio Javary, San Antonio de Boa Vista, 6 Dec 1874 (st), Traill 1070 (BH, GH, K). (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