Bactris bifida Mart., Hist. Nat. Palm. 2: 105 (1826)

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Mostly south of the Amazon river in Colombia (Amazonas), Peru (Huanuco, Loreto, San Martin, Ucayali), and western Brazil (Acre, Amazonas); lowland rain forest either on terra firme or more commonly in areas liable to seasonal inundation or other wet places, at 106-600 m elevation (Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000)A


  • Bactris bifida is diagnosed by its long, narrow, simple, strongly plicate leaves, deeply bifid apically and cuneate basally, staminodial ring, and ellipsoid, purple-black fruits. Synonymy was established by Henderson (1995), although he (and Henderson et aI., 1995) included B. angustifolia as a synonym of B. tomentosa var. sphaerocarpa, it properly belongs here.
    There is considerable variation in the size of the leaves; specimens from the Andean foothills of Peru have much larger leaves than usual (Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000)A

Common Name

  • Brazil: ubim de espinho. Peru: ñeja negra (Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000)A


  • Stems cespitose, forming small or large clumps, often leaning, 1-4 m tall, 1-2 cm diam., the internodes usually not spiny.
    Leaves 4-10; leaf spines solitary and scattered, brown or black, to 8 cm long, on lateral surfaces of sheath, petiole, and rachis; sheath 12-28 cm long, very fibrous on margins; ocrea to 10 cm long, becoming fibrous; petiole (0-)12-22(-100) cm long; rachis 40-70 cm long; blade simple or rarely pinnate proximally, long cuneate basally, deeply bifid apically, strongly plicate, with a metallic sheen on drying; blade 40-100 cm long, 12-20 cm wide at apex of rachis.
    Inflorescences interfoliar; peduncle 15-25 cm long, straight or slightly recurved, not spiny; prophyll 8-13 cm long; peduncular bract 16-25 cm long, sparsely covered with black spines to 5 mm long; rachillae 1-2,4-6.5 cm long, at anthesis glabrous or with a few flexuous trichomes; triads regularly arranged, these interspersed with paired or solitary staminate flowers; staminate flowers 3-6 mm long, deciduous; sepal lobes 1-1.5 mm long; petals 3-5.5 mm long; stamens 6; pistillode absent; pistillate flowers 3-4 mm long; calyx tubular, 3-4 mm long; corolla tubular, 2.5-3.5 mm long; staminodial ring obscure, 0.5 mm long; fruits 2-2.5 x 1-1.5 cm, narrowly ellipsoid, ovoid, or ellipsoid-oblong, purple-black, sometimes minutely spinulose; mesocarp juicy; endocarp ellipsoid, the sterile pores displaced longitudinally, the fertile pore displaced latitudinally; endocarp fibers free, numerous, with juice sacs attached; fruiting perianth with short calyx and much longer, crenate corolla, staminodial ring present. (Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000)A

Use Record

  • Bactris bifida Mart.: Bactris bifida is one of at least seven wild species in the genus with edible fruits that grow in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. (Smith, N., R. Vásquez, and W. H. Wust 2007: Amazon river fruits. Flavors for Conservation)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    Human FoodBeveragesFruitsNot identifiedN/APeru
    Human FoodBeveragesFruitsNot identifiedN/APeru
  • Bactris bifida Mart.: Bactris bifida Mart. Español: Nejilla, Neja negra Usos: Alimenticio — Los frutos maduros son comestibles. Comunidad: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12–16, 18–21, 23–27. Voucher: H. Balslev 6604. (Balslev, H., C. Grandez, et al. 2008: Useful palms (Arecaceae) near Iquitos, Peruvian Amazon)


    A. Henderson, A.J., Bactris (Palmae) in Flora Neotropica Monographs 79. 2000