Bactris major

Source: Own work

Bactris major
Kew Gardens

Bactris major or prickly palm is a very spiny palm tree that grows in groups.

It’s suitable outdoors only for the tropics.

It could probably be grown as a house plant but the many spines could be a problem.

Can be grown as a group or a hedge.


Bractis Major is a clumping palm tree. The trunk is first covered with black spikes that are shed later to show a dark green, smooth stem with prominent rings. The trunk is up to 9 m high with a diameter of 5 cm. The total height of the groups is 12 m with a width up to 9 m.

The leaves are usually 2.4 m long on short, prickly petioles, with 36 light green, narrow, elongate leaflets that grow in a single plane from the densely spiny rachis. Each leaflet has a prominent, lighter colored midrib and a pointed or rounded end. The 2 terminal leaflets are usually wider but shorter.

The much-branched inflorescence appears between small bracts and contains small greenish-yellow blossoms.

The fruits are purple to black, 5 cm long and contain 1 seed. They are edible, sweet and juicy.


Common names:

Black roseau, cubaro, kawmaka, lata palm, prickly palm


Augustinea balanoidea, Augustinea major, Augustinea ovata, Bactris albonotata, Bactris augustinea, Bactris balanoidea, Bactris beata, Bactris broadwayi, Bactris cateri, Bactris chaetorhachis, Bactris cruegeriana, Bactris demerarana, Bactris ellipsoidalis, Bactris major var. major, Bactris major var. megalocarpa, Bactris megalocarpa, Bactris minax, Bactris obovoidea, Bactris ottostaffeana, Bactris ottostapfiana, Bactris ovata, Bactris planifolia, Bactris superior, Bactris swabeyi, Palma zagueneti, Pyrenoglyphis balanoidea, Pyrenoglyphis chaetorhachis, Pyrenoglyphis cruegeriana, Pyrenoglyphis cruegeriana, Pyrenoglyphis major, Pyrenoglyphis ottostapfiana, Pyrenoglyphis ovata, Pyrenoglyphis superior


Bactris: from the Greek baktron (cane, walking staff)
Major: from the Latin māior (greater, larger)


Trinidad, Mexico to subtropical America


Clearings in rain forest and open savannas


USDA zone 10-11

Bactris major

Source: Own work

Bactris major
Kew Gardens



Fertile, well-drained


Light, partial shade


Keep the substrate moist


Fertilizer for palm trees