Welfia H.Wendl.
  • Gartenflora 18: 242 (1869) 

Notes: Distribution: C. America to Peru

General Description

Moderate, solitary, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious palm. Stem erect, leaf scars conspicuous, wide, rather distant, upper trunk orange to brown. Leaves large, marcescent, regularly pinnate, ± erect and arching at the tip in a feather-duster crown; sheath soon splitting opposite the petiole, not forming a crownshaft, abaxially thick, somewhat ridged, densely tomentose, margins disintegrating into large fibres; petiole short, deeply channelled adaxially, rounded abaxially, densely tomentose; rachis much longer than the petiole, adaxially flattened, laterally channelled, abaxially rounded; leaflets subopposite to almost alternate, broadly lanceolate, pendulous, single-fold, glabrous and darker adaxially, pale but with a dense layer of tomentum abaxially, midrib not evident, ca. 8–several, nearly equal, rather large veins more conspicuous abaxially, transverse veinlets not evident. Inflorescences interfoliar and erect in bud, becoming infrafoliar and pendulous, branched to 1(–2) orders, protandrous; peduncle short, very stout, recurved; prophyll tubular, flat, wide, woody, deeply grooved abaxially, tomentose, margins with wide flat keels, often notched; complete peduncular bracts l, like the prophyll but shorter and thinner, leathery, subsequent peduncular bracts several, short, stiff, rounded, spirally inserted above the peduncular bract; rachis short, about as long as the peduncle, bearing spirally arranged, small, rounded or pointed, ovate bracts subtending rachillae; rachillae stout, bearing 8 rows of partly sunken, stiff ovate bracts each subtending a triad of flowers borne in a pit. Staminate flowers sessile, borne to the outside of the pistillate flower within the pit; sepals 3, chaffy, briefly united basally to the floral receptacle, narrow, keeled, overlapping distally in bud; petals 3, elongate, connate and joined with the floral receptacle for ca. 1/3 their length, free lobes ± boat-shaped, valvate, chaffy; stamens 36 (27–42) in antesepalous and antepetalous groups (see Uhl and Moore 1980), filaments short, broad, connective with a pointed tip, anthers linear-sagittate, basifixed, introrse; pistillode consisting of 3 small tubercles or lacking. Pollen asymmetric ellipsoidal, or pyriform; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, finely perforate, perforate and micro-channelled, or perforate-rugulate, aperture margin slightly finer; infratectum columellate, longest axis 25–45 µm [1/1]. Pistillate flower rounded, pointed in bud; sepals 3, distinct, narrow, overlapping, keeled, chaffy; petals 3, connate in a tube for 2/3 their length or more, distinct lobes triangular, valvate, chaffy; staminodes numerous (15–16), adnate to the corolla tube for 2/3 their length, free and awl-shaped or linear-triangular above; gynoecium trilocular, triovulate, 3-angled with the adaxial side longer, style long, cylindrical, stigmas 3, recurved, ovule axile at the centre of the locule, anatropous. Fruit almond-shaped, slightly compressed dorsiventrally, laterally ridged, with a short apical point, dull purple, stigmatic remains and abortive carpels basal; epicarp smooth, ± shiny, mesocarp with slender parallel fibres, endocarp thin, crustaceous. Seed purple, ellipsoidal, rounded apically, covered in a white, sweet-tasting mucilage-like coating when ripe, hilum lateral at the base, raphe ± encircling the seed with short basal and apical branches, endosperm homogeneous; embryo eccentric at the base. Germination adjacent-ligular, eophyll bifid. Cytology unknown.

Diagnostic Description

Moderate pinnate-leaved palm from Central and South America, distinctive in the very robust rachillae, with deep pits out of which emerge the flowers, the staminate flower with numerous stamens, and the 2-keeled fruit.


Leaf (Tomlinson 1961, Wessels Boer 1968), root (Seubert 1998a, 1998b), and flower (Uhl and Moore 1980, Stauffer and Endress 2003).


Occurring from lowlands to 2000 m above sea level in the Andes in dense rain forest.


One species, from Honduras to west and east Colombia and Ecuador.


Not recorded.

Common Names

Not recorded.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Southern America Central America Costa Rica
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Panamá
  • Western South America Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • 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.