Group I Group III Group IV

A Field Key to the Palms of Belize

GROUP II: Leaves pinnately compound, stems and/or petioles armed with spines or thorns
(* potential species)


Climbing palms; leaves with a whip-like extension of the rachis (cirrus) containing barb-like hooks; stems densely spiny (cf. *Chamaedorea elatior, Group III).

Desmoncus orthacanthos
1b. Arborescent, to 4 m tall, cirrus absent.
2a. Stems clumped, rarely solitary, mostly <6 cm diameter.

Leaflets glabrous beneath, regularly arranged and spreading in the same plane; spines on sheath, petiole, and rachis <9 cm long; found in open habitats near groundwater; fruits purple-black.

Bactris major var. major

Leaflets often pubescent beneath, clustered and spreading in different planes; spines on sheath, petiole, and rachis to 15 cm long; in wet forest; fruits orange to red.

Bactris mexicana
2b. Stems solitary.

Stems to 8 cm (rarely >6 cm) diameter, with whorls of flattened, black spines; leaves not plumose in appearance; found in moist to wet forests; fruits bristly.

Astrocaryum mexicanum

Stems to 50+ cm diameter, spines not flattened; leaves plumose; fruits smooth; in open and/or disturbed areas.

Acrocomia aculeata

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