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Ammandra decasperma O.F.Cook

Ammandra is a monotypic genus of flowering plant in the palm family found in South America where it is endangered. The sole species is Ammandra decasperma, although another species has been recognized. They are a pinnate-leaved, dioecious palm whose seeds and petioles are used in button and basket making, respectively. It is commonly called Ivory palm or cabecita.

A. decasperma grows in multi-headed clusters, the trunks usually remaining underground or prostrate upon it. Despite the negligible trunk size, the leaves reach over 6 m long, slightly arching, on 2 m petioles. The linear leaflets are dark green, 60–90 cm long, and emerge from the rachis in the same plane. In male plants the inflorescence is a long spike covered in short branches of white to yellow flowers, ... ...Read More

Solitary or clustered dioecious palm, with stems short and subterranean,o r prostratea nd up to 1.5 m long and 25-35 cm in diameter, usually decaying at the older portions. Leaves 8-20 erect or arching; sheath l-1.7 m long, strongly fibrous, most of it appearing like the petiole; petiole cylindrical, l-2.4 m long, 2-2.5 cm in diameter, green; rachis 3.3-4 m long, with 40-62 pinnae; middle pinnae opposite, to 85 cm long and 5 cm wide, glabrous, with a prominent submarginal vein on either side of the midvein. Inflorescences interfoliar, the staminate up to 1.4 m long; peduncle 30-75 cm; peduncular bract 35-50 cm long; rachis 3O-92 cm long; rachillae 45-90, each with 6-9 flowers 0.5-3 cm long, the proximal ones larger and with more stamens; perianth obscure, hidden by the enlarged receptacle, the latter making the most conspicuous part of the flower; receptacle prismatic, to 1.5 cm long, with a small, central pistillode; stamens 300-1321; filaments 0.1-0.9 mm long; anthers 0.5-1.7 mm long. Pistillate inflorescence with peduncle to 30 cm long; peduncular bt'act 15*30 cm long; pistillate flowers 6-10 densely arranged in a head on a short rachis 1-2.5 cm long, each flower up to 25 cm long, with 7-10 narrow tepals to 10 cm long; ovary with 6-10 locules; style to 7 cm long; stigmas to 5 cm long. Infructescence2O-25 cm diameter, with 3-10 fruits. Fruit depressed-globose1,0 -12 cm diameter, with woody spiny projections to L cm long; seeds 6-10, wedge-shaped, with two flat sides, the distal surface convex, 4.5-5 cm long, 3-4 cm wide,2.2-3 cm along the tangential face. [3]


GENUS [A]Ammandra

SUB-FAMILY [N]Ceroxyloideae

TRIBE [N]Phytelepheae






 Distribution [C][3]



Ammandra dasyneura (Burret) Barfod
Phytelephas dasyneura Burret
Phytelephas decasperma (O.F.Cook) Dahlgren 


Cold Hardiness Zone (USDA) 10a





Ammandra is not common in cultivation outside its natural range but when grown requires wet and warm conditions resembling the rain forest and will not tolerate full sun when young. It also prefers free-draining, highly organic soil. In Colombia, their large, strong petioles are commonly woven into baskets and other thatched goods, while the large white seeds, commonly called "vegetable ivory", are carved into buttons and trinkets. 


[3] R. Bernal, Notes on the Genus Ammandra (Palmae). 2001
[3] Govaerts, R. (1995). World Checklist of Seed Plants 1(1, 2): 1-483, 1-529. MIM, Deurne.
[3] Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 

[A] Palmweb - Palms of the World Online -

[C] WCSP 2013. World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards

[N] The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) -

[W] Wikipedia:


The World Checklist of Monocotyledons:

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI):

IUCN Red List: