Bactris sphaerocarpa Trail, J. Bot. 15: 8 (1877)

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Western Amazon region of Colombia (Amazonas), Peru (Loreto, Madre de Dios), and Brazil (Acre, Amazonas), lowland rain forest on terra firme, at 150-400 m elevation.


  • Bactris sphaerocarpa is diagnosed by its inflorescence with 1 rachilla with regularly arranged triads almost throughout, purple-black fruits, and numerous endocarp fibers with juice sacs attached. Henderson recognized two varieties (var. tomentosa and var. sphaerocarpa) of a broadly conceived B. tomentosa. These are recognized here at the species level. Synonymy was established by Henderson (1995), although he (and Henderson et al., 1995) included B. angustifolia (here included under B. bifida) as a synonym of B. tomentosa var. sphaerocarpa. Some specimens examined here much resemble smaller versions of B. fissifrons, and the two species may be related.

Common Name

  • Brazil: marajá, marajazinha. Peru: kamáncha (Achual Jívaro), ñejilia.


  • Stems cespitose, 0.5-1.5 m tall, 0.8-1.5 cm diam. Leaves 9-13; leaf spines scattered, black, terete, to 3 cm long, few on sheath, petiole, and rachis, or sometimes absent; sheath 11-18 cm long; ocrea to 10 cm long; petiole 10-28 cm long; rachis 18-55 cm long; blade simple, deeply bifid apical ly and narrowly cuneate basally, or pinnate with pinnae 2-3 per side, sigmoid, with long, filamentous, minutely spinulose apex, the apical one wider than and well separated from the others; blade to 50(-80) cm long and 15 (-20) cm wide at apex of rachis, pinnate leaves with middle pinnae 18-27 x 3-4 cm. Inflorescences inter-foliar; peduncle ca. 6 cm long, recurved to straight, not spiny; prophyll 8-9 cm long; peduncular bract 10-17 cm long, not spiny or usually spiny with short, flattened, brown or black spines to 0.3 cm long; rachilla 1, 3-5 cm long, at anthesis densely covered with brown trichomes; triads regularly arranged almost throughout rachilla; staminate flowers 5-6 mm long; sepal lobes 1-2 mm long; petals 5-6 mm long; stamens 6; pistillode absent; pistillate flowers 3.5-4 mm long; calyx tubular, 3-4 mm long; corolla tubular, 3-4 mm long; staminodes minute or absent; fruits to 2.5 x 1.7 cm, broadly obovoid, prominently rostrate, purple-black; mesocarp juicy; endocarp turbinate, the sterile pores slightly displaced longitudinally; endocarp fibers numerous, with juice sacs attached; fruiting perianth with lobed calyx half as long as the lobed corolla, without staminodial ring.