Syagrus vermicularis Noblick
  • Palms (1999+) 48: 111 (2004) 

Notes: Distribution: Brazil (Maranhão to Rondônia)

General Description

Solitary palm tree. Stem erect, 10 m tall, ca. 12–20 cm diam., basally with a large root boss to ca. 45 cm diam., distally stem very conspicuously ringed with oblique leaf scars, new internodes densely covered with white caducous wooly indument; internode ca. 9–17 cm long. Leaves ca. 12–15 in crown, spirally arranged and spreading; leaf sheath plus petiole ca. 90–100 cm long × ca. 18–20 cm wide at the base, composed of finely-netted matting of fibers breaking away easily and leaving a finely fibrous margin on the apparent petiole, apparent petiole adaxially channeled and abaxially rounded and covered adaxially with wooly caducous indument; true petiole 6–8 cm long, ca. 3.1–4.4 cm wide and 1.5–2.2 cm thick at the base of the leaf blade; rachis 2.2–2.5 m long with ca. 100–140 pairs of leaflets distributed in clusters of 2–3 along the rachis in various divergent planes; middle leaflets ca. 80–90 cm long × 3–4 cm wide. Infloresence interfoliar, androgynous, erect in bud, later horizontal; peduncle 60–61 cm long × 4 cm wide × 2 cm thick; peduncular bract ca. 90–103 cm long including a beak 4–5 cm and the expanded or inflated part of the bract measuring ca. 55–65 × 27–29 cm and with a perimeter 33–37 cm, 5–9 mm thick, often separating from the peduncle before the fruits reach full maturity; rachis 49–52 cm long; rachillae ca. 70–100, apical ones ca. 54 cm long and basal ones ca. 118 cm, a major part of the distal portion of the rachillae devoid of any flowers, sterile and folded back and forth on themselves like dried noodles or worms. Flowers bright yellow drying white or cream-colored. Staminate flowers near the base ca. 9–10 mm long, sessile; sepals 3, distinct, triangular, imbricate but briefly connate at base, acute, membranaceous, glabrous; petals 3 distinct, unequal, obovate, valvate, fleshy, glabrous, with inconspicuous venation, ca. 8–9 × 4 mm, obtuse to broadly acute; stamens 6, distinct, 4–5 mm long, with filaments 1.5 mm long; pistillode trifid, less than 0.5 mm long. Pistillate flowers, conical, sessile; sepals glabrous, without visible venation, sclerenchymous or fleshy, imbricate, ca. 9–10 × 8–9 mm, acute, faintly keeled at tip; petals 3, distinct, imbricate at base, valvate at apex with valvate tip ca. 2–3 mm long, triangular, indistinctly nerved, glabrous, 11 × 8–9 mm, acute; gynoecium of receptive flower ovoid, 9 × 7 mm, covered in wooly tomentum, persisting on the apex of the fruit; stigmas 3, ca. 2 mm long; staminodal ring ca. 3 mm long, undulate with ca. 6 undulations and three small residual teeth, one on every other undulation. Fruits orange when mature, 5–6 × 4 cm, ovoid; cupule (persistent perianth) dark brown, ca. 2 cm in diam. × ca. 1 cm high; petals slightly longer than sepals; staminodial ring truncate, ca. 3 mm high × 10 mm diam.; epicarp smooth for most part but tomentose at apex; mesocarp fleshy, fibrous or pulpy remaining as a fibrous mat over endocarp; endocarp ovoid, 4.5–5 × ca. 3.5–4 cm, ca. 6 mm thick, hard, bony, brown to red-brown, apex with a distinctive, trilobed protuberance or beak, interior smooth, trivittate, slightly triangular in cross-section, outer surface nearly smooth, with small fibers, only slightly pitted, pores 3(–4) nearly even with surface, sutures visible especially at apex. Seed 1, elliptical, 3 × 2.5–3.2 cm; endosperm homogeneous. Germination remote tubular with cotyledonary tube penetrating deeply before sending up a plumule; eophyll simple, lanceolate.


In pre-Amazonian seasonally wet, marginal or secondary forests on terra firme with deep lateritic clay soils on rolling or steep hilly slopes at ca. 100–200 m. elevation. Often growing in open pastures. Also seen on lower slopes adjacent to river floodplains. Other palms present were Oenocarpus bataua, Oenocarpus disticus, Attalea maripa (Maxmiliana maripa) with Euterpe oleracea in the low lying areas. PHENOLOGY: Many of the trees in September had immature developing fruits. A small number had mature fruits and fewer still had flowers. Fortunately, I found a few sporadic inflorescences, but all contained only male flowers. I found this initially perplexing, but after growing them at MBC, it has been observed that the first few inflorescences of young palms do frequently produce only male flowers and often these flower outside their normal season. However, it must be noted that female flower bearing inflorescences were observed opening at MBC in September.


Brazil, state of Maranhão (midwestern portion) near Açailandia and Imperatriz, Maranhão, state of Para (at least in the mid-eastern part) near Serra Carajás and the Rio Paraupebas and probably the northern part of the state of Tocantins.


Syagrus vermicularis is threatened by the heavy lumbering practices that are reducing the regional forests to pasture. However, this palm species seems to thrive in secondary growth and farmers often maintain the trees in their pastures.

Common Names

pati. It is interesting to note that this same common name is also applied to S. botryophora from the Atlantic coastal rain forest

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Southern America Brazil Brazil North
  • Brazil Northeast
  • Brazil West-Central


  • 1 Lorenzi, H., Noblick, L.R., Kahn, F. & Ferreira, E. (2010). Brazilian Flora Arecaceae (Palms): 1-268. Instituto Plantarum de Estudos da Flora LTDA, São Paulo, Brazil.
  • 2 L. Noblick, Syagrus vermicularis, a Fascinating New Palm from Northern Brazil. 2004

 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
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from
  • B 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
  • C See 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.