gru-gru palm, macaw palm
Stems: Solitary, upright stems to 10 m tall and up to 35 cm in diameter, bulging just above or at the middle of the stem, with rings of black spines, and sometimes covered with remnants of old leaf bases. Stem often becomes smooth with age. Leaves: Pinnate, to 3 m long, with linear leaflets spreading in multiple planes. Upper leaf surface, grayish or bluish green; undersurface, whitish or silvery. Flowers and fruits: Spiny inflorescences (up to 2 m long) are protected by a woody spathe and branched to one order. Male and female flowers are borne on the same inflorescence with female flowers at the base of the branch and male flowers toward the tip. The spherical fruits (2.5-5 cm) have a single seed and are yellow-green to brown when ripe.
Lab: Tiny white hairs on the whitish underside of the leaflets, obvious, pale secondary veins and obscure transverse veinlets.
Bactris gasipaes: Both species are spiny, but Acrocomia aculeata is single-stemmed, while Bactris gasipaes is a multi-stemmed or clustering palm. Leaflets of Bactris are green, not whitish, on the undersides.
Native to dry areas (savannas) in South and Central America and the Caribbean
Because it has abundant black spines, Acrocomia aculeata is not likely to be confused with Syagrus romanzoffiana, the queen palm, but in the landscape the general appearance of the two species is similar.
This genus was revised in 1995, when the number of species was reduced from about 30 to 2. All the former species with upright, above ground stems are now included in A. aculeata.
Acrocomia aculeata (Jacq.) Lodd. ex Mart.
Acrocomia fusiformis (Sw.) Sweet
Acrocomia lasiospatha Mart.
Acrocomia media O. F. Cook
Acrocomia mexicana Karw. ex Mart.
Acrocomia microcarpa Barb. Rodr.
Acrocomia mokayayba Barb. Rodr.
Acrocomia sclerocarpa Mart.
Acrocomia spinosa (Mill.) H. E. Moore
Acrocomia totai Mart.
Acrocomia vinifera Oerst.
Bactris pavoniana Mart.
Cocos aculeata Jacq.
Euterpe aculeata (Willd.) Spreng.