Hyospathe Mart.
  • Hist. Nat. Palm. 2: 1 (1823) 

Notes: Distribution: C. & S. Trop. America

General Description

Small or rarely moderate, solitary or clustering, graceful, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious palms. Stem slender, ringed with conspicuous, sometimes oblique, rather distant leaf scars. Leaves regularly pinnate, entire and bifid, or bi- or trijugate; sheath usually forming a short to long crownshaft, not splitting opposite the petiole until shed, margin irregular, chartaceous, striate, adaxially grooved, glabrous, abaxially with scattered scales; petiole moderate, slender, abaxially rounded, with hairs or deciduous scales; rachis adaxially ridged, abaxially ridged or rounded, also scaly; leaflets lanceolate to falcate, pointed, often somewhat curved apically, alternate, single-fold, several-fold or many-fold, bearing scattered deciduous scales along abaxial ribs and sometimes basally on adaxial ribs, laterally, tapering to a rather blunt point, chartaceous, splitting surfaces similar or dissimilar in colour, midrib prominent, 1–2 pairs of dorsiventrally and apically to become bifid, inserted above the base of the parallel veins also conspicuous in some species, transverse veinlets peduncle; peduncular bracts 1–2, terete, much longer than or about as long conspicuous or obscure. Inflorescence solitary, branched to 1 order, branches as the prophyll, beaked, splitting abaxially, inserted somewhat above the stiff or pendulous; peduncle short or long, slender; prophyll 2-keeled prophyll; rachis much shorter to rarely longer than the peduncle; rachis bracts very short, obscure, subtending spirally inserted rachillae; rachillae slender, rather distant or crowded, moderate to short and stiff or long and pendulous, sometimes undulate apically, bearing spirally arranged triads of flowers nearly throughout and paired to solitary staminate flowers distally; floral bracteoles shallow, rounded. Staminate flowers lateral to the pistillate, sessile or stalked, narrow, elongate; sepals 3, united in a tube, adnate basally for at least 2/3 their length to the receptacle to form a stalk-like base, free tips short, broadly triangular; petals 3, distinct, narrowly ovate, asymmetical, curved basally, pointed distally; stamens 6, the 3 antesepalous with shorter filaments, free or shortly joined with the pistillode, the 3 antepetalous with filaments much longer, adnate to the pistillode nearly to its apex, filaments awl-shaped, anthers moderately long, dorsifixed near the base, latrorse, united throughout; pistillode narrowly ovoid with 2 stigmatic lobes. Pollen ellipsoidal, with slight or obvious asymmetry; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, finely or coarsely perforate-rugulate, aperture margin finer; infratectum columellate; longest axis 34–39 µm [1/17]. Pistillate flower ovoid, shorter than the staminate; sepals 3, united in a cupule for ca. 2/3 their length, tips broad, pointed, striate; petals 3, distinct, ovate, moderately imbricate, striate, tips pointed; staminodes 6, small, strap-like; gynoecium ovoid, unilocular, uniovulate, narrowed to a short tubular style, stigmas 3, recurved at anthesis, ovule basal, laterally attached, form unknown. Fruit ovoid to cylindrical, pointed, asymmetrical, black at maturity, stigmatic remains basal; epicarp smooth, lightly mottled, mesocarp fibrous, endocarp thin, crustaceous. Seed narrow, ovoid, ± pointed, hilum basal, raphe branches anastomosing, endosperm homogeneous; embryo rather large, basal. Germination adjacent-ligular; eophyll bifid. Cytology not studied.

Diagnostic Description

Small, solitary or clustering palms of South American rain forests, often with entire leaves or with broad pinnae: the staminate flowers have stamens adnate to the pistillode and the fruit has basal stigmatic remains.


See Skov and Balslev (1989).


In rain forest, in swamps or on dry ground at low elevations but also on the slopes of the Andes between 1000–2000 m.


Six species ranging from Costa Rica to Peru.


These palms would make handsome ornamentals.

Common Names

Hog palm, ubim palm (Hyospathe elegans).

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Southern America Brazil Brazil North
  • Central America Costa Rica
  • Panamá
  • Northern South America French Guiana
  • Guyana
  • Suriname
  • Venezuela
  • Western South America Bolivia
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru


  • 1 J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008
  • 2 Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

 Information From

Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet http://www.palmweb.org. Accessed on 21/04/2013
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Global Biodiversity Information Facility
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eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from http://e-monocot.org.
  • D Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/ Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • E See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement.