Moderate, solitary, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious palms. Stem erect, moderately robust, brown, leaf scars clearly defined, close. Leaves pinnate, somewhat arching to spreading, becoming pendulous, neatly abscising; sheaths thick, striate, ± glabrous, tubular, forming a conspicuous crownshaft; petiole very short, stout, adaxially channelled, abaxially rounded; rachis elongate, angled adaxially, rounded abaxially; leaflets single-fold (basal leaflets sometimes united), lanceolate, acute or acuminate, tips bifid, both surfaces with small brown scales, long, pale ramenta near the base adaxially, along ribs abaxially, midrib raised adaxially, transverse veinlets not evident. Inflorescences infrafoliar, branched to 3 orders basally,fewer distally, branches somewhat pendulous at anthesis; peduncle veryshort, dorsiventrally flattened; prophyll inserted close to base of peduncle,tubular, splitting abaxially, caducous, chartaceous, tomentose, rather wide,2-keeled laterally, tapering slightly to a blunt tip; peduncular bract insertedclose to prophyll, similar but beaked and lacking keels, also caducous;rachis longer than the peduncle, bearing rather distant, spirally arranged,short, sometimes pointed bracts subtending branches and rachillae,glabrous except for a dense tuft of short hairs in bract axils; rachillae ratherstiff, moderate, tapering, bearing spirally arranged, low, rounded bractssubtending triads of flowers nearly throughout, a few paired or solitarystaminate flowers distally; flowers borne in vertical, laterally compressedpits, inner surfaces of pits densely hairy; floral bracteoles about equal,shallow, rounded. Staminate flowers slightly asymmetrical, borne on hairypedicels; sepals 3, distinct, scarcely imbricate, narrow, ± acute,membranous; petals 3, asymmetrical and angled, ± strongly nerved;stamens 6, those opposite the sepals usually shorter than those opposite thepetals, filaments awl-shaped, inflexed at the apex in bud, inflexed portionvery slender, anthers elliptic to oblong or nearly quadrate, basifixed,latrorse, the connective very short; pistillode, in bud as long as the stamens,ovoid with expanded capitate tip when fresh. Pollen ellipsoidal asymmetric, imbricate, ± rounded apically, nearly as long as the petals in bud,occasionally lozenge-shaped or pyriform; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine glumaceous; petals 3, broadly imbricate with very briefly valvate tips;tectate, perforate and micro-channelled or finely perforate-rugulate, staminodes 3–6, awl-shaped or narrowly deltoid; gynoecium ellipsoid,aperture margin similar or slightly finer; infratectum columellate; longest asymmetrical, unilocular but vestigial locules evident, uniovulate, stigmasaxis 23–44 µm [2/2]. Pistillate flowers ± symmetrical; sepals 3, distinct, 3, recurved, papillose, ovule probably hemianatropous, pendulous. Fruit globose-obovoid, black or purplish at maturity, stigmatic remains near the base in lower 1/4; epicarp smooth but drying dimpled, mesocarp fleshy with sclerosomes, the principal fibres 4, 1 short from base to stigmatic remains, 1 looped over the endocarp and 2 laterally branched and anastomosing toward the apex, endocarp operculate, rather thick, less fragile than in most genera, grooved abaxially from operculum to apex and laterally, attached directly to the operculum. Seed shining brown, conspicuously grooved abaxially and laterally, raphe branches ascending adaxially, arched over the seed and laterally, anastomosing adaxially, hilum rounded; endosperm homogeneous; embryo basal. Germination adjacent ligular; eophyll bifid. Cytology: 2n = 32.
Bentinckia condapanna grows at 1000–1400 m at the edge of high peaks in the Travancore hills, where it is threatened by forest clearance and the grazing of young foliage by elephants. Bentinckia nicobarica apparently grows at somewhat lower elevations along with Areca catechu, Pinanga manii and Rhopaloblaste augusta.