Solitary. Stem 0-6 m tall, 2.5-5 cm diam., armed with black spines, to 7 cm long. Leaves 6-15, erect and arching; sheath 20-35 cm long, densely armed with black spines; petiole 5-70 cm long, with a thin, dark brown, caducous indument, armed as the sheath, less toward apex; rachis 60-180 cm long, with an indument like that on petiole, black spinules, and scattered black spines, to 5 cm long; pinnae 9-14 per side, inserted in pairs or rarely triplets separated by 10-20 cm, broadly cuneate, 1-3(-4) times as long as wide, sometimes strongly plicate along secondary veins, incised to bilobulate praemorse at apex, symmetrical around midrib, distal margin ecaudate, adaxial side dark green and glabrous, abaxial side pale greyish to silverish green, glabrous or minutely spinulose; basal pinnae 11-20 x 2-9 cm; middle pinnae 14-34 x 8-19 cm; apical pinnae 2-5 ribbed, 22-25 x 5-26 cm. Inflorescence interfoliar, erect, normally exserted above crown, all parts with a thin, dark brown, scaly indument; prophyll 21-32 x 1-3 cm; peduncular bract 65-100 cm long, unarmed, soon disintegrating; peduncle 50-100 cm long, 5-10 mm diam. at junction with rachis, densely armed with black or brown spines, to 1(-3) cm long, rarely almost unarmed; rachis 20-40 cm long, unarmed except at base; rachillae 30-40, strongly appressed to rachis, with densely packed flower groups abaxially, without flowers adaxially, covered with minute spinules; basal rachillae 10-15 cm long, adnate to rachis for 3-5 cm or sometimes all their length, with flowers from base, the proximal ? with triads, in this part thickened and flattened, 6-7 mm wide, the remaining part more slender, 1-3 mm wide, with staminale dyads or singles; apical rachillae 1-4 cm long, staminate, briefly adnate to rachis, somewhat spreading, distally with flowers on all sides; flower groups sunken into pits, subtended by fused bracts, forming a rim around the pit. Staminate flowers white to yellow, ca. 1 mm long; sepals cap-shaped, carinate, in bud almost completely enclosing the petals, 1-1.5 mm long; pelals almost free, valvale, 1-1.5 mm long; filaments 0.5-1 mm long, anthers nearly square, 0.5-0.6 x 0.5-0.7 mm; pistillode minute, sunken into the swollen receptacle. Pistillate flowers 2-3 mm long; sepals imbricate. ca. 2 mm long; petals connate ½, valvate distally, 2-2.5 mm long; staminodial cup ca. 1 mm high, nearly truncate; pistil 1.5-2 mm high, glabrous. Fruits globose, strongly rostrate, ca. 7 mm in diam., rostrum 1-2 mm long. 
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.
Aiphanes schultzeana Burret
Martinezia ulei Dammer
Cold Hardiness Zone (USDA) 10a
BIBLIOGRAPHY & SOURCES