Aiphanes minima

Common name

macaw palm, grigri, coyore


Stems: Solitary, upright to 18 m tall and up to 20 cm in diameter, with rings of black spines. Leaves: Pinnate, 1-2 m long, with regularly-arranged, lanceolate, praemorse-tipped leaflets spreading in a single plane. Upper leaf surface, medium green; undersurface, much paler green. Flowers and fruits: Spiny inflorescences (up to 2 m long) are protected by a woody spathe and branched to one order with as many as 300 branches. Male and female flowers, creamy white to yellow in color, are borne with female flowers at the base of the inflorescence branch and male flowers toward the tip. The spherical fruits (1.4-1.7 cm diameter) have a single seed and are bright red when ripe.

Diagnostic features

Field: Erect, solitary palms with dark spines and leaf scar rings on the pale stem; leaves with leaflets held in one plane; and spines on almost every part of the palm. Inflorescences with roughly 300 branches.

Lab: Leaflets with raised midrib, obvious secondary veins and transverse veinlets

May be confused with

Aiphanes horrida has wedge-shaped praemorse leaflets with a ruffled appearance.

Acrocomia aculeata is also spiny, but has narrowly linear leaflets spreading in many planes.


Native to Caribbean countries, usually in forest understory

Additional comments

Aiphanes minima is widely distributed in the Lesser Antilles. Geographical variation in the species has led to some taxonomic confusion; for example, species known as A. luciana from St. Lucia and A. vincentiana from St. Vincent, among others, are now included in this variable species.

Scientific name

Aiphanes minima (Gaertn.) Burret




Aiphanes acanthophylla (Mart.) Burret

Aiphanes erosa (Linden) Burret

Bactris acanthophylla Mart.

Bactris minima Gaertner

Curima calophylla O.F. Cook

Last Updated May 2014