Moderate to large, solitary or clustered, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious palms. Stem erect, sometimes slender, obscurely to distinctly ringed with leaf scars, grey to white, base sometimes enlarged. Leaves few in crown, often spreading, pinnate; sheath elongate, tubular, forming a prominent crownshaft, smooth, variously glaucous, tomentose, or with scales, with or without a prominent, fibrous, adaxial ligule; petiole very short or absent, rarely elongate, slender, deeply concave adaxially, or flat with a central ridge, rounded abaxially, with scattered dark brown to blackish, branched scales or deciduous tomentum on both surfaces, usually denser adaxially; rachis slender, rounded abaxially, channelled adaxially near the base, distally angled, with dark brown to blackish scales more numerous adaxially; leaflets often ± pendulous, narrow, lanceolate, single-fold, tips long-attenuate, pointed, midrib conspicuous, 1 or 2 pairs of large veins also evident, deciduous tattered scales often prominent abaxially along midribs and larger veins, other elliptic scales present or absent abaxially and near the base adaxially, transverse veinlets not evident. Inflorescences axillary, infrafoliar at anthesis, erect in bud, branched to 1 order; peduncle short, often dorsiventrally compressed, covered with scales, tomentum, or hairs, minutely brown-dotted or rarely glabrous; prophyll tubular, elongate, flattened dorsiventrally, inserted obliquely near the base of the peduncle, chartaceous, with scattered sometimes black, tattered-peltate scales, or ± glabrous, margins with wide flat keels, tip usually rounded, splitting abaxially below the tip; peduncular bract about as long as or longer than the prophyll, tubular, chartaceous, with scales as on the prophyll, tip pointed, hard, a second, incomplete, rather long, pointed peduncular bract sometimes present; rachis longer than the peduncle, covered with dense white, yellow to dark red tomentum; rachillae moderate to long, often slender, becoming pendulous, usually covered with dense white, orange, or dark brownish tomentum, and bearing rather close or distant, spirally arranged bracts, the proximal somewhat elongate, pointed, the distal smaller, often rounded, each subtending a triad of flowers at the base or more distally on the rachilla a pair of staminate or a single staminate flower, the pistillate flower sunken in a pit and surrounded by 2 rounded, stiff bracteoles, one usually larger, the 2 staminate flowers of the triad in shallow indentations above the pistillate flower. Staminate flowers elongate, pointed in bud; sepals 3, distinct, broadly imbricate, irregular, rounded to ± pointed, margins often tattered; petals 3, distinct, unequal, asymmetrical, valvate, the tips with short solid points; stamens 6, filaments short, linear, sometimes wider basally, anthers elongate, sagittate, medifixed, latrorse; pistillode 3-lobed, columnar. Pollen ellipsoidal, with slight or obvious asymmetry; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, finely perforate, or perforate and micro-channelled and rugulate, aperture margin similar or slightly finer; infratectum columellate; longest axis 35–57 µm [4/8]. Pistillate flowers ovoid; sepals 3, distinct, imbricate, margins often lacerate, from ca. 1/4 to 2/3 as long as the petals; petals 3, distinct, imbricate, margins irregular, tips with solid points; staminodes usually absent (present in Euterpe luminosa); gynoecium ovoid, unilocular, uniovulate, stigmas 3 short, fleshy, recurved, ovule probably hemianatropous, laterally attached. Fruit subglobose or rarely ellipsoid, small to moderate, single-seeded, stigmatic remains lateral to subapical; epicarp smooth, minutely pebbled when dry, mesocarp rather thin with radially arranged sclereid bundles and an inner layer of thin flat fibres, endocarp thin, crustaceous, tanniniferous. Seed globose, laterally attached, hilum elongate, ± 2-lobed, raphe branches forming a network, endosperm homogeneous or rarely ruminate; embryo subbasal. Germination adjacent-ligular; eophyll bifid or pinnate with narrow leaflets. Cytology: 2n = 36.
The‘cabbage’ is edible and much prized, being sweet andsucculent and the most common source of hearts of palm inthe Americas. Fruits of some species are used in preserves andbeverages. Unopened inflorescences are made into pickles.The hard outer part of the stem may be used as planks, andleaves for thatch.