Aiphanes horrida

Common name

ruffle palm, coyure palm


Stems: Solitary, upright, grayish stems to 10 m tall and up to 15 cm in diameter, ringed with flattened black spines (up to 2 cm long) and leaf scars. Leaves: Pinnate, with a short, spiny petiole and drooping, spiny rachis. Leaflets, clustered in groups of 4-6, grow in several planes, and the praemorse tips have three major teeth. The wedge-shaped leaflets are dramatically wider at the leaf apex. The blades may be glabrous to more or less covered with small spines. Flowers and fruits: Inflorescences (about 60-90 cm long) are borne among the leaves and are once branched. Separate staminate and pistillate (male and female) flowers are held on the same inflorescence. Fruits are spherical, 1.6-2.3 cm, and bright red or orange-red when ripe.

Diagnostic features

Field: Erect, solitary palms with dark spines and leaf scar rings on the pale stem, leaves with praemorse leaflets, and spines on almost every part of the palm.

Lab: Spines on new leaves may be covered with grayish white tomentum.

May be confused with

Aiphanes minima is similarly spiny, but its leaflets are more or less lanceolate, widest at the midpoint and gradually tapering toward the base and praemorse tip while Aiphanes horrida has wedge-shaped praemorse leaflets with a ruffled appearance.


Native to seasonally dry forests and sometimes wet forests of tropical South America and in Trinidad

Additional comments

The fruits of this species are edible and are sold in some South American markets.

Scientific name

Aiphanes horrida (Jacq.) Burret.




Aiphanes aculeata Willd.

Aiphanes caryotifolia (Kunth) H.Wendl.

Aiphanes elegans (Linden & H.Wendl.) H.Wendl.

Aiphanes ernestii (Burret) Burret

Aiphanes killipii (Burret) Burret

Aiphanes orinocensis Burret

Aiphanes premorsa (Poepp. ex Mart.) Burret

Aiphanes truncata (Brongn. ex Mart.) H.Wendl.

Bactris premorsa Poepp. ex Mart.

Caryota horrida Jacq.

Euterpe aculeata (Jacq.) Spreng.

Martinezia aculeata (Jacq.) Klotzsch

Martinezia caryotifolia Kunth

Martinezia killipii Burret

Last Updated May 2014