Family : Arecaceae
Text © Pietro Puccio
English translation by Mario Beltramini
The species is native to Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, North-western Brazil and Peru where it grows in the pluvial forests, mainly along the water streams and in areas periodically flooded, at low altitude.
The generic name comes from the Greek substantive “βάκτρον” (bactron) = stick, support, with reference to the use of the stems of some specis belonging to this genus as sticks; the specific name is the Latin adjective “concinnus, a, um” = elegant.
Common names: marayaù (Bolivia); marajá, marajá pupunha, mumbaca (Brazil); caña brava, marayá (Colombia); chontilla (Ecuador); neja, ñejilla, palmera cespitosa, uyainim (Peru).
The Bactris concinna Mart. (1826) is a monoecious species forming dense tufts with erect or slightly curved stems, of 2-5 cm of diameter and height that usually does not surpass 4 m, even if are known specimens reaching 7-8 m, covered by the foliar bases densely spiny, excepting in the oldest part, and by rings of blackish spines, about 1,5 cm long, at the nodes. The leaves, on a 15-70 cm long petiole, are pinnate, 1,2-2 m long, with 30-50 linear pinnules, 30-60 cm long and 1,5-3 cm broad in the median part, regularly arranged on the sides of the rachis on the same plane, of intense green colour; foliar base, petiole and rachis are provided of thick blackish spines, 1-2 cm long, interspersed by some black or yellowish spines up to 10 cm long. Inflorescences between the leaves (interfoliar) initially enclosed in a spathe, 25-40 cm long, covered by spines, with unisexual flowers usually arranged in triad (a female flower amid two male ones), the female flowers ripe before the male thus favouring the crossed pollination. The fruits are ovoid, edible, of blackish purple colour, 2-4 cm long and of 1-2 cm of diameter, containing one seed only.
It reproduces by seed, in loam rich of organic substance maintained constantly humid at 26-28 °C, with germination times of 5-6 months, and by division.
Species of big ornamental and landscape value with relatively fast growth, suitable for parks and gardens of the tropical and humid subtropical climate zones, to be placed far away from the passing and parking places due to the thick spines covering it. It requires full sun, but in the in initial phase of growth, or partial shade, and draining soils maintained constantly humid, acidic or neutral; in the seasonal climates it is to be regularly and abundantly watered during the dry season. The fruits, of pleasant taste, are at times sold in the local markets, for the human consumption as well as for the animals’ one. The stems are used as stakes for fencings, in coverings, along with the leaves, of permanent or makshift shelters and for common use objects. The roots are utilized in the popular medicine, as decoction, in the cold deseases.
Synonyms: Bactris concinna var. inundata Spruce (1869); Bactris concinna subsp. depauperata Trail (1876); Pyrenoglyphis concinna (Mart.) Burret (1934); Pyrenoglyphis concinna var. depauperata (Trail) Burret (1934); Pyrenoglyphis concinna var. inundata (Spruce) Burret (1934).
The photographic file of Giuseppe Mazza