Bactris is a genus of spiny palms which is native to the Mexico, South and Central America and the Caribbean. Most species are small trees about 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) tall, but some are large trees while others are shrubs with subterranean stems. They have simple or pinnately compound leaves and yellow, orange, red or purple-black fruit. The genus is most closely related to several other spiny palms—Acrocomia, Aiphanes, Astrocaryum and Desmoncus. The fruit of several species is edible, most notably B. gasipaes, while others are used medicinally or for construction.
The ancestors of the genus are believed to have entered South America during the late Cretaceous. William Baker and Thomas Couvreur found Bactris to be one of six palm genera that showed the highest rates of speciation.
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