There has been considerable confusion in deciding species limits within this genus. Many authorities in the past have viewed Desmoncus as being made up of a number of very localized and similar endemic species, with estimations of total species ranging as high as 60 or more. Most modern treatments have considerably reduced this number - some treatments having reduced it to as low as 7. However, we are following the treatment in 'A Revision of Desmoncus (Arecaceae)' Henderson A., Phytotaxa 35; 1-88 2011, which recognizes 24 species[
Atitara ataxacantha (Barb.Rodr.) Kuntze
Atitara lophacantha (Mart.) Barb.Rodr.
Atitara orthacantha (Mart.) Kuntze
Desmoncus ataxacanthus Barb.Rodr.
Desmoncus huebneri Burret
Desmoncus kuhlmannii Burret.
Desmoncus leptochaete Burret.
Desmoncus longifolius Mart.
Desmoncus lophacanthos Mart.
Desmoncus myriacanthos Dugand
Desmoncus werdermannii Burret.
Desmoncus orthacanthos is an unusual, elliptical leaved, evergreen climbing palm with very spiny stems and leaves. The vigorous, slender stems, which scramble into the surrounding vegetation, can be up to 20 metres long and 10 - 20mm in diameter[
]. The plant produces clusters of stems, and can form dense thickets in clearings up to 2 metres high[
]. It looks rather similar to the rattan palms of southeast Asia, though it is not related[
The stems are gathered from the wild for local use in making baskets, whilst the roots are used medicinally.
S. America - Brazil and Peru, north through S. America to Trinidad in the Caribbean.
Abundant in the coastal area of the Guyanas, growing in more or less open places and along rivers - it is rarely found in the interior and never in undisturbed forests[
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A plant of the moist, tropical lowlands, it is cold sensitive[
Requires a warm, sheltered moist position[
A decoction of the root is used as a drastic; it is considered excellent for treating dartre, eczema and certain dermatoses[
Mature stems are used for basket making[
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