Lepidocaryum Mart.
  • Hist. Nat. Palm. 2: 49 (1824) 

Notes: Distribution: W. Amazon Reg.

General Description

Slender, clustered, unarmed, pleonanthic, dioecious, undergrowth palms. Stem erect, colonial by slender rhizomes, partly obscured by marcescent leaf sheaths above, becoming bare basally, with rather short internodes and inconspicuous nodal scars. Leaves small, reduplicately palmate; sheath splitting opposite the petiole, frequently covered with very dense, caducous tomentum; petiole conspicuous, ± rounded in cross-section except at the base where channelled adaxially; hastulae mostly absent, a low crest sometimes present adaxially; blade flabellate or ± orbicular with a very short costa, divided along a few abaxial folds to the insertion into few broad or narrow single-fold or compound, spathulate, acuminate segments, tips sometimes bristly, blade surfaces similar in colour, midribs more prominent abaxially, transverse veinlets conspicuous, rather distant and somewhat sinuous; young leaves sometimes reddish-tinged. Inflorescences solitary, interfoliar, the staminate and pistillate superficially similar, branched to 2 orders; prophyll tubular, closely sheathing, 2-keeled, with 2 short triangular lobes; peduncle elongate, bearing several (ca. 6) closely sheathing tubular bracts with short triangular limbs; rachis longer than the peduncle; rachis bracts like the peduncular, but tending to split at the tip, each subtending a first-order branch; first-order branches few, rather short, bearing a basal, tubular, 2-keeled prophyll and sometimes 1 empty tubular bract, and distichously arranged, tubular, triangular-tipped bracts, each subtending a rachilla; staminate rachilla short, becoming recurved, with a basal, membranous, striate, 2-keeled prophyll and few (up to 12) distichous, membranous, apiculate, cup-shaped bracts, each, including sometimes the prophyll, subtending a solitary staminate flower bearing a 2-keeled bracteole, or a pair of staminate flowers enclosed within a 2-keeled, explanate bracteole, one of the pair bearing a second bracteole; pistillate rachilla usually very short, sometimes scarcely exserted from the subtending bract, bearing a basal, membranous, 2-keeled, striate prophyll and few (up to ca. 8) distichous, membranous, cup-like, apiculate bracts, each, including sometimes the prophyll, subtending a solitary pistillate flower, bearing a 2-keeled bracteole and a minute, ovate, flattened second bracteole. Staminate flowers symmetrical; calyx tubular, briefly 3-lobed, ± striate; petals much exceeding the calyx, basally connate, the tips valvate; stamens 6, borne at the very base of the petals, filaments thick, fleshy, ± angled, the anthers small, basifixed, latrorse; pistillode minute or short, columnar. Pollen ellipsoidal, bi-symmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine intectate, surface very finely granular, interspersed with bottle-shaped spines set in, and loosely connected to, cavities in a wide foot layer, bulging noticeably inward beneath each spine, the inner face of the foot layer clearly lamellate, aperture margin similar; longest axis 28–41 µm [1/1]. Pistillate flowers larger than the staminate; calyx tubular, 3-lobed, splitting somewhat irregularly after fertilization; corolla much exceeding the calyx, tubular in basal ca. 1/3, with 3 elongate, valvate lobes; staminodes 6, adnate to the base of the corolla lobes, the filaments somewhat angled, the empty anthers minute; gynoecium incompletely trilocular, triovulate, ± rounded, covered in vertical rows of reflexed scales, style conical, briefly 3-lobed, ovule anatropous, ?basally attached. Fruit rounded or oblong, usually 1-seeded, with apical stigmatic remains; epicarp covered in vertical rows of reflexed reddish-brown scales, mesocarp thin, endocarp not differentiated. Seed attached near the base at one side, with a shallow furrow along the raphe, testa ?fleshy, endosperm homogeneous; embryo lateral. Germination adjacent-ligular; eophyll bifid. Cytology: 2n = 30.

Diagnostic Description

Clustering unarmed palms of South America with slender erect stems and palmate leaves with segments of varying width; inflorescences small with staminate and pistillate rachillae bearing solitary flowers at each bract.


Leaf (Tomlinson 1961), root (Seubert 1996a).


Growing in the undergrowth of lowland tropical rain forest.


One species with three varieties, distributed in the wetter parts of Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil.


Leaves are used as thatch.

Common Names


Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Southern America Brazil Brazil North
  • Brazil West-Central
  • Northern South America Guyana
  • Venezuela
  • Western South America Colombia
  • Peru

Included Species


  • 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
  • A Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
  • B http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from http://e-monocot.org.
  • C 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
  • D 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.