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Origin and Habitat: Amazon region of Colombia (Amazonas), the Guianas, Brazil (Amazonas, Para, Rondonia), and Bolivia (Pando).
Altitude: 100-350 m elevation
Habitat: Low-land rain forest in noninundated areas.
- Bactris elegans Barb.Rodr. & Trail
Bactris elegans Barb.Rodr. & Trail
Enum. Palm. Nov. 35 (1875)
PORTUGUESE (Português): Marajá (Brazil)
Description: Bactris elegans is a small, prickly palm, forming loose to dense clumps from basal shoots of up to 8 stems.
Stems: Clustered, slender and spiny or not spiny on internodes. At first when young it forms a central cane up to about 1,5-2 in height and 0,8-1,5 cm diameter with 4-6 cm long internodes with few short basal shoot. As the plant ages it forms a cluster of canes 3-3,5 m tall, about 1 cm in diameter with the internodes 8-10 cm long, at the nodes armed with semicircular rows of 1,5-3,5 cm long black spines.
Leaves: 6-13 per cane, pinnate; sheath, petiole, and rachis with a few black or dark brown, rarely yellowish spines to 4 cm long. Pinnae (leaflets) lustrous dark-green above, somewhat lighter beneath, (17-)21-28(-32) per side, opposite or subopposite (in groups of 3-6 in old specimen), linear-lanceolate to almost sigmoid, irregularly serrate at apex, regularly spaced, glossy green, unequally bifid at the tip 15-25 cm long and 1,5-2 cm wide, regularly arranged except for "gaps," spreading in the same plane. Leaf-sheath and petiole heavily armed with 1-7 cm long and brown-tomentose, brownish-black spines. Petiole 20-30 cm long, rachis 5-7 dm long, leafsheath 10-20 cm long.
Inflorescences: Interfoliar with (1-)2 flowering branches at anthesis densely covered with reddish brown tomentum and brown, moniliform trichomes, peduncular bract with few to many black spines to 1.5 cm long. Flower triads irregularly arranged among paired or solitary staminate flowers; staminate flowers 4-5.5 mm long, deciduous; sepal lobes 1-2 mm long; petals 4-5 mm long; stamens 6; pistillode small; pistillate flowers 3-4 mm long; calyx tubular, 2.5-3 mm long; corolla tubular, 3-3.5 mm long; staminodes absent.
Fruits: Globose 1,2-1,5 cm diameter, purple-black; mesocarp juicy; endocarp depressed-oblong, the sterile pores displaced longitudinally; endocarp fibers free, numerous, with juice sacs attached.
Cultivation and Propagation: This is an excellent understory palm very highly sought after by palm collectors, but scarcely known in cultivation. It is adapt to warm temperate to tropical climates in humid regions, especially along with rainforests and, once established, will grow quite fast and does well in cultivation. In general it does not like hot, drying suns, winds, salt or bad water.
Soil requirements: It has a fibrous root system and benefits from deep organic, acidic, sandy loam soils that are fertile and well drained but thrives on wide range of tropical soils, like coastal marine alluvial clays, soils of volcanic origin, acid sands and other coastal alluviums. Waterlogged, highly lateritic, extremely sandy, stony or peaty soils should be avoided.
Watering: In cultivation it hates low humidity. During the summer or warmer months, water frequently to keep the soil from drying out.
Light: Will grow better in full shade, but tolerates morning sun. Seedlings like a more sheltered area.
Fertilization: Need a perfect fertilizer diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements.
Aerosol salt tolerance: It is moderately salt tolerant, but does a lot better inland then it does on the coast.
Hardiness: It is suited for tropical or subtropical climate (USDA Zones 10a-12)
Wind hardiness: It needs wind protection.
Garden uses: It is rarely cultivated, but is an excellent understory palm if you can water it regularly. It is ideal where garden space is limited and a small clumping plant is required. It is also an excellent potted palm.
Propagation: Seeds or division of larger cluster. Germination can be erratic and slow, taking from 8 to 20 weeks and benefit from soaking.
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