A solitary, large, drought tolerant, alkaline soil tolerant, moderately fast growing, monoecious palm. Rare in cultivation, locally common in the wild. It has a spiny, black trunk, 10 m. (33 ft.) tall, 38 cm. (15 inch) diameter with no obvious leaf scars, and large segmented, pinnate (feather) leaves, 3.7 m. (12 ft.) long, 1.5 m. (5 ft.) wide, green above and beneath.
The trunk is columnar and straight but occasionally has a slight bulge in the middle. A. aculeata sp. totai is armed with 12-13 cm (5-5½ in) black needlelike spines in closely set rings covering most of the trunk. This is the cold-hardiest form of Acrocomia aculeata.
Acrocomia totai can tolerate freezing temperatures to about -6.5°C (20.3°F). However, this is not a norm., and ideally you should not try to subject this palm to these temperatures. This is a species from dry grassland savannahs, open forests, or low montane environments, it should be grown in open sunny positions. You can try growing it in an understory position under a tree canopy to help protect the palm from serious cold, but we advise a south-facing position where the palm can catch as much of the winter sunshine as is possible.
Leaf segments glabrous abaxially. Fruits brownish green, globose, 2-3cm diam., brownish green.; endocarp globose, brown, bearing 3 germination pores. Seeds: eophyll undivided. Flowering in the summer.
Although as many as 30 species of Acrocomia have been described, a recent study (A. Henderson et al. 1995) recognized only two, A. aculeata (Jacquin) Loddiges (including A. totai Martius) and A. hassleri (Barbosa Rodrigues) W. J. Hahn. I maintain A. aculeata, A. media, and A. aculeata sp. totai as three separate species. Clearly, additional study is warranted to resolve the prickly systematic problems in this genus.
Native to, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay
The full extent of A. aculeata sp. totai's natural distribution is difficult to quantify. It represents the southernmost range of Acrocomia aculeata. A. aculeata sp. totai is sparingly naturalized in central Florida USA in Brevard County, as well as in Dade County in the vicinity of Miami.