Solitary, acaulescent or with a horizontal, subterranean stem, to 30 cm long, 2-5 cm diam. Leaves 9-12, erect and arching; sheath 14-20 cm long, with numerous black spines, to 8 cm long; petiole 16-25 cm long, armed like sheath, but spines fewer; rachis 42-80 cm long, green, with a brown, caducous indument, unarmed or with scattered, black spines, to 5 cm long; pinnae 14-16 per side, nearly regularly inserted or in groups of 2-4, these occupying 3-7 cm along the rachis, separated by 9-11 cm, all pinnae more or less in one plane, strongly plicate, middle pinnae 17-22 x 1-2.5 cm, linear or narrowly cuneate, 10-18 times as long as wide, obliquely praemorse at apex, with an up to 2 cm long finger-like projection on the distal margin, both sides with scattered, peltate hairs and few minute spinules, margins lined with black spinules, ca. 1 mm long. Inflorescence interfoliar, erect, spicate; prophyll 14-16 cm long, ca. 1 cm wide; peduncular bract 30-50 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide, thin, with minute, black spinules, soon disintegrating; peduncle 45-110 cm long, 3-4 mm diam. at apex, green, with a thin, brown, caducous indument, unarmed or covered with black, thin, to 3 cm long spines; spike 14-26 cm long, 5-8 mm diam., with a brown, caducous indument, covered with minute, black spinules, basal ? with triads, distally staminate; flower groups sunken into deep, elongate cavities in the spike, each subtended by a 3-4 mm long bract, covering the flower group before anthesis. Staminate flowers 3-4 mm long, 3-4 mm wide, yellow in center, with light green petals; sepals imbricate, carinate, covering the petals for ? of their length, 3-3.5 x 4-5 mm; petals free, valvate, 3.5-4 x 2.5-3 mm; filaments ca. 1 mm long, anthers 1.1-1.4 x 0.9-1.1 mm; pistillode minute, trifid; receptacle swollen, ca. 0.5 mm thick. Pistillate flowers (at anthesis) 4-5 mm long, ca. 4 mm wide, light greenish yellow; sepals imbricate, broadly ovate, shorter than the petals, enclosed in the floral pit, 2.5-3.5 x 4-5 mm; petals connate for ½ their length, valvate distally, 4-5 x 3-4 mm; staminodiaI cup truncate, 3-4 mm high; pistil ca. 4 mm high, 3 mm diam., glabrous. Fruits 10 mm long, 9 mm wide. 
Aiphanes species have a long history of human use. The remains of carbonised seeds thought to belong to A. horrida have been found in archaeological sites in Colombia dating back to about 2800 BP; seeds of this species are still consumed and are traded in local markets. Aiphanes horrida is also widely planted as an ornamental, as is A. minima. The fruit or seeds of A. deltoidea, A. eggersii, A. linearis and A. minima are all consumed locally. The palm heart of A. macroloba is consumed by the Coaiquer people of northwestern South America. Aiphanol, a compound isolated from A. horrida, has shown significant inhibitory activity against cyclooxygenases; inhibition of these enzymes can provide relief from the symptoms of inflammation and pain.
Cold Hardiness Zone (USDA) 9b
BIBLIOGRAPHY & SOURCES