Aiphanes weberbaueri Burret, Notizbl. Bot. Gart. Berlin-Dahlem 11: 565 (1932)

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Eastern Andean slopes from southern Ecuador to southern Peru up to 1950 m, extending into the Amazonian lowlands in northern Peru as far as Iquitos. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A


  • At the confluence of Río Santiago and Río Marañon the species grows on lateritic soil, around Iquitos and Río Nanay it is found on white sand, but morphological differences correlated with these differences in habitat are not evident. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A


  • A species complex that covers a wide variation in size and shape of pinnae.Notes for Ecuador. Two forms are known from Ecuador. The typical form, which has a short solitary stem, and bristly, nearly strap shaped pinnae, is known from the Morona-Santiago province around 1800 m elevation. A second form with adscending stem, sucker shoots at the basal nodes, and narrowly wedge shaped, nearly glabrous pinnae is known from the Pastaza and Morona-Santiago provinces around 1200 m elevation. The latter is characteristic in having erect inflorescences with horizontal branches that have the flowers arranged in two rows on their upper side. (Borchsenius F., Borgtoft-Pedersen H. and Baslev H. 1998. Manual to the Palms of Ecuador. AAU Reports 37. Department of Systematic Botany, University of Aarhus, Denmark in collaboration with Pontificia Universidad Catalica del Ecuador)B
  • Aiphanes weberbaueri is characterized by its solitary, often more or less acaulescent habit. Inflorescences with few (5-34), often thick rachillae, and pistillate flowers with completely reflexed, rounded petals and truncate staminodial cup, lending a very characteristic appearance to inflorescences with pistillate flowers in or past anthesis. It is closely related to A. deltoidea; the differences are discussed under that species. Aiphanes weberbaueri is a complex and incompletely known species. In the Andes, variation appears to be limited. Plants from this area have linear to narrowly cuneate, grouped to regularly inserted pinnae, and inflorescences with relatively few (13-30), often very thick rachillae. In the Amazon the species is more variable, and two forms can be recognized: one with linear, regularly inserted pinnae and inflorescences with ca. 30 slender rachillae (A. tessmannii Burret); and one with cuneate pinnae inserted in pairs or triplets, and inflorescences with 5-10 rachillae that are thickened in the androgynous part. The type of A. tessmannii is destroyed, and no isotypes exist. When the type locality was visited in May 1990, only one sterile individual was found and collected (Kahn & Borchsenius 2546, neotype). This plant was very conspicuous in its regularly pinnate, long-spinulose leaves, and appeared to be clearly distinct from the many individuals of the form with cuneate pinnae growing at the same locality. Plants with subregularly or regularly inserted, long-spinulose pinnae of similar size and shape are, however, known from the Andes (Borchsenius & Pedersen 94427, Moore 8527), and the latter specimen includes an inflorescence corresponding well to Burret's description of the inflorescence of A. tessmannii. Thus, in reality, it is impossible to separate A. tessmannii from A. weberbaueri, at least with our present knowledge. The matter should be reinvestigated when more information becomes available.
    The existing material from Peru is insufficient to resolve the taxonomy of A. weberbaueri sensu lato in a satisfactory manner. The variation pattern resembles that found in A. hirsuta, which is still incompletely understood despite the fact that there exist more than twice as many, and more complete, collections of that species. Both show the same transition from linear, regularly inserted pinnae to cuneate, grouped ones, variation in indument and apex shape of the pinnae, and variation in number, length, and degree of thickening of the rachillae. Also, both species seem to occur in distinct sympatric forms in some areas, whereas differences break down in other. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A

Common Name

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


  • Solitary, rarely with a few suckers at base. Stem 0-1.5 m tall, 3.5-6 cm diam., armed with black spines on the internodes, to 5 cm long. Leaves 5- 13, spreading; sheath 15-42 cm long, armed with black spines, to 5 cm long; petiole 10-46 cm long, green, armed like sheath, but spines fewer; rachis 55-120 cm long, green, almost glabrous to densely yellow or black spinulose, armed with scattered, black spines, to 4 cm long; pinnae 6-24 per side, inserted in groups of 2-3 separated by spaces of up to 13 cm, often subregularly inserted on the distal half of the leaf, sometimes regularly inserted throughout, more or less in one plane, linear to cuneate, 2.5-15 times as long as wide, oblique or incised praemorse at apex, with an up to 4 cm long finger-like projection on the distal margin, both sides nearly glabrous to densely covered with yellow or black spinules, up to 5 mm long; basal pinnae 7-21 x 0.5-4 cm; middle pinnae 12-30 x 2-7 cm; apical pinnae 3-7 ribbed, 8-28 x 5- 20 cm. Inflorescence interfoliar, erect to curving, branched to 1 order; prophyll 15-33 cm long, 0.5-2.5 cm wide; peduncular bract 60-105 cm long, 1.5-2.5 cm wide, unarmed or spinulose, thin, soon disintegrating; peduncle 30-11 5 cm long, 2-7 mm diam. at junction with rachis, covered with thin, <1 cm long spines and spinules, these shorter distally; rachis 6-30(-60) cm long, densely covered with short, < 1 mm long, yellow to brown spinules; rachillae 5-34, often inserted at relatively large intervals, with spinules like the rachis; basal rachillae 8-35 cm long, sometimes with an up to 8 cm long basal sterile portion, the fertile part with triads for ca ½, of the length, in this part 2-5 mm diam., often distinctly thickened, especially in fruit, distal half 1-2 mm diam., staminate; apical rachillae 2-17 cm long, staminate; flower groups inserted in shallow depressions in the rachillae, pistillate flowers sometimes sunken for up to ½ of their length. Staminate flowers purple, 1-2 x 1-2.5 mm; sepals narrowly triangular to broadly ovate, arched, carinate, nearly enclosing the petals in bud, 1-1.5 x 0.5-1.5 mm; petals ovate-acute, briefly connate at base, 1.3-3 x 1.5-2.5 mm; filaments 0.3-0.5 mm long, anthers oval, 0.3-0.9 x 0.4-0.9 mm; pistillode sunken into the 0.4-0.7 mm thick receptacle. Pistillate flowers 2-4 mm long, 2.5-6 mm wide; sepals broadly ovate, nearly as long as the petals, imbricate, 2.5-3 x 4-5 mm; petals connate for ½-? of their length, valvate distally, 3.5-4.5 x 3-4 mm, valves rounded, recurved at anthesis; staminodial cup 2.5-3.5 mm tall, nearly truncate; pistil ca. 3 mm high, glabrous. Fruits red to purple, globose to slightly elongate 7- 10 mm diam.; endocarp 6-9 mm diam., shallowly pitted. (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A

Materials Examined

  • ECUADOR. MORONA-SANTIAGO: Plan de Milagro-Gualaceo rd., km 2, 1850 m, 26 Sep 1987 (st), Skov, Borchsenius, et al. 64714 (AAU, QCA); 26 Nov 1989 (fl , imm fr), Borchsenius & Pedersen 91427 (AAU, COL, K, MO, NY, QCA. QCNE). PASTAZA: Near EI Triunfo on rd. to Arajuno. 21 km NE of Puyo-Macas rd., 1250 m, 24 Oct 1987, Skov & Borchsenius 64770 (AAU, COL, QCA, USM).
    PERU. Am azonas: Prov. Bagua, ca. 12- 18 trail km E of La Peca in Serrania de Bagua, 1800-- 1950 m, 14 Jun 1978 (fl), Centry et al. 22935 (BH, F, MO); confluence of Río Santiago and Río Marañon, to min. upstream Río Santiago, W bank. 160 m, 20 May 1990 (p fl. imm fr), Kahn & Borchsenius 2535 (AAU, USM); ibid., in front of military camp "Pinglo," 2 J May 1990 (fl), Kahn & Borchsenius 2554 (AAU, NY, USM). JUNíN: Prov. Chanchamay, Chilpez, ca. 26 km S of San Ramon, 1720-1850 m. 19 Oct 1982 (fl, fr), Smith &: Palacios 2643 (MO-n.v., USM); Schunke hacienda, above San Ramón, 1400-1700 m, 8 Jun 1929 (fl), Killip & Smith 24608 (F. NY). LORETO: Prov. Maynas, vicinity of Iquitos. Quistococha, forest, 22 Nov 1940 (imm fr), Asplund 14667 (S); 180 m, 9 Sep 1957 (st), Ellenberg 2877 (U); rd. Iquitos Quisto Cocha, km 8-9, 100 m, 15 May 1960 (st), Moore et al. 8456 (BH, USM); Prov. Mishana, Río Nanay halfway between Iquitos and Santa María de Nanay, ncar Campamento 1, 20 Mar 1982 (fl, fr). Gentry et al. 36514 (MO); vicinity of Lago Llanchama near Río Nanay, 2 Aug 1972 (st), Croat 18711 (MO). PASCO: Prov. Oxapampa, Paleazu. Río Alto Iscozacin, Ozuz to Río Pescado, 400-500 m, 12 May 1985 (fl), Foster & d'Achille 10101 (F n.v. USM). SAN MARTÍN: Prov. San Martín, rd. Tarapoto-Yurimaguas, km 20, Cerro de Escalero, 980 m, 26 May 1960 (infl), Moore et al. 8527 (BH, USM). (Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95)A

Use Record

  • Aiphanes weberbaueri Burret: Heart (3); fruits (2); drink (1) (Byg, A. and H. Balslev 2004: Factors affecting local knowledge of palms in Nangaritza valley, Southeastern Ecuador)
    Use CategoryUse Sub CategoryPlant PartHuman GroupEthnic GroupCountry
    Human FoodBeveragesFruitsNot identifiedN/AEcuador
    Human FoodFoodPalm heartNot identifiedN/AEcuador
    Human FoodFoodFruitsNot identifiedN/AEcuador


    A. Borchsenius, F. and Bernal, R. 1996. Aiphanes (Palmae). Flora Neotropica 70. pp 1-95
    B. Borchsenius F., Borgtoft-Pedersen H. and Baslev H. 1998. Manual to the Palms of Ecuador. AAU Reports 37. Department of Systematic Botany, University of Aarhus, Denmark in collaboration with Pontificia Universidad Catalica del Ecuador