Asterogyne H.Wendl. ex Hook.f.
  • G.Bentham & J.D.Hooker, Gen. Pl. 3: 914 (1883) 

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

General Description

Small, solitary, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious palms. Stem short, erect, sometimes prostrate for a time, rather closely ringed with inconspicuous, narrow, oblique leaf scars. Leaves erect, almost always undivided, bifid, sometimes becoming split irregularly, marcescent; sheath short, tubular, eventually splitting opposite the petiole, margins with a few stiff fibres, covered with dull, reddish-brown scales; petiole short, slender, flat and glabrous adaxially; rounded, with dark brown scales, often becoming brown-dotted abaxially, blade wedge-shaped, pinnately ribbed, distinctly plicate, thin but rather tough, deep green adaxially, silvery green abaxially, glabrous adaxially, small membranous scales and trichomes along large ribs abaxially, transverse veinlets not evident, large close ribs more evident abaxially, alternating with bands of small veins on both surfaces. Inflorescences solitary, ± erect, becoming ± curved in fruit, interfoliar, spicate or subdigitately branched to 1 order, protandrous; peduncle long, slender, covered with dark brown, caducous tomentum; prophyll tubular, pointed, thin, papery, with 2, very narrow, lateral keels, covered with dark red, caducous tomentum; peduncular bracts 1(–2), tubular, like the prophyll but longer; rachis very short, bearing short, ovate, pointed bracts, the first 2 (or more) empty, others subtending rachillae; rachillae 1 or few (2–8), about equal in length, bearing sunken ovate bracts, each subtending a triad of flowers borne in a pit, pits with distinct upper ‘lips’ which lock the bract over the developing flowers, rachillae ending in long, slender, pointed tips, densely scaly; floral bracteoles 3, the outer bracteole shallow, the middle 2-keeled, the inner acute. Staminate flowers exserted at anthesis, borne laterally and outside the pistillate flower; sepals 3, briefly connate where adnate basally to the receptacle, free above, narrow, elongate, keeled, acute or emarginate apically; petals 3, about as long as the sepals, basally adnate to the receptacle, connate in a tube for about 2/3 their length, free and valvate above; stamens 6–ca. 24, filaments connate and adnate basally to the receptacle forming a solid stalk-like base, united in a tube for an equal distance, distally free, erect, terete and tapering, connective bifid, tanniniferous, bearing separated thecae, inflexed in bud, ± erect at anthesis, introrse; pistillode shallow, irregularly 3-lobed. Pollen ellipsoidal, usually with obvious asymmetry, including pyriform; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, perforate and micro-channelled, and rugulate, aperture margin slightly finer; infratectum columellate; longest axis 37–43 µm [1/5]. Pistillate flowers slightly asymmetrical; sepals 3, distinct, chaffy, imbricate in bud; petals 3, connate for about 2/3 their length in a soft tube, valvate and chaffy distally; staminodes ca. 15, connate basally and adnate to the petal tube, free, somewhat fleshy, angled or terete distally, tips dark like the connectives; gynoecium trilocular, triovulate, 3-lobed, style elongate, grooved, ending in 3 triangular, stigmatic lobes, probably recurved at anthesis, ovule anatropous, pendulous, attached in the top of the locule, only 1 normally maturing. Fruit ellipsoidal-ovoid, 1-seeded, dorsiventrally compressed, slightly keeled apically, abortive carpels and stigmatic remains basal; epicarp smooth, mesocarp fleshy to dry, with an inner layer of closely appressed, longitudinal fibres, endocarp thin, crustaceous, shiny. Seed ellipsoidal to obovoid, slightly compressed laterally, hilum small, basal, raphe encircling the seed, somewhat impressed, unbranched to furcate or with a few parallel branches, endosperm homogeneous; embryo eccentrically basal. Germination adjacent-ligular; eophyll bifid. Cytology not studied.

Diagnostic Description

Short-stemmed pinnate-leaved palms from the undergrowth of rain forest in Central and northern South America, with either spicate inflorescence or inflorescence with radiating branches, and distinctive divergent anther thecae.


Leaf (Tomlinson 1961, 1966), root (Seubert 1998a,1998b), and floral and inflorescence (Uhl 1966, Stauffer et al.2003, Stauffer and Endress 2003).


Found only in wet forests, oftenat low elevations ca. 200–400 m or less, sometimes on well-drained slopes.


Five species in Central America and northern South America.


Asterogyne is a fine ornamental and is also used forthatch. The fruit of A. spicata is edible.

Common Names

For local names, see Glassman(1972).

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Southern America Central America Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Panamá
  • Northern South America French Guiana
  • Venezuela
  • Western South America Colombia
  • Ecuador


  • 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.
  • 3 Govaerts, R. (1995). World Checklist of Seed Plants 1(1, 2): 1-483, 1-529. MIM, Deurne.

 Information From

Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet Accessed on 21/04/2013
  • A Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
  • B
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from
  • 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; Retrieved 2011 onwards
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