Clustered robust palm climbing to 30 m long. Stems ± triangular in cross-section, without sheaths, 18-24 mm in diameter, with 25-30 mm; internodes 10-16 cm. Leaf sheath lightly striate, moderately to profusely covered in caducous grey-black indumentum, or indumentum absent; ocrea entire, obliquely truncate, extending for 1-2 cm; knee conspicuous, narrow, linear, 5-8 cm long, rather abrupt at base. Leaves sessile, up to 3m long; rachis 1.2-1.5m long, abaxially rounded, adaxially convex to concave, becoming trapezoid then triangular in cross-section distally, sparse grey indumentum present below, or absent, armed along the margins with robust reflexed, bulbous-based, black-tipped, spines, becoming sparsely armed distally; cirrus 1.2-1.5 m long, unarmed; leaflets up to 30 on each side of the rachis, inequidistant, opposite to sub-opposite, linear-lanceolate to ovate, bluntly contracted at the base, very finely acuminate at apex, with apex often breaking off giving slightly blunt appearance, 22-38 cm long by 2.8-3.8 cm broad at the widest point, concolourous, armed along the margins with slender to robust black-tipped yellow spines, with ca.6 moderately conspicuous transverse veinlets 1-2 mm apart; lowermost leaflets, smaller than the rest, linear, strap-like, armed along the margins with robust bulbous-based black-tipped yellow to orange spines, laxly swept back across, or tightly clasping stem; acanthophylls 3-4 cm long. Inflorescence glabrous, 24-32 cm long; peduncle 10-15 cm long, somewhat flattened in cross-section; rachis 12-17 cm long, erect, arching; rachillae distichous 8-10 on each side, 5-16 cm long, decreasing distally, adnate to the inflorescence axis for 3-5 mm; rachis bracts, acuminate, up to 4 mm long, decreasing distally; flower cluster subtended by up to 1.0 mm. long incomplete bracts. Flowers borne in close pairs; calyx 4 mm long by 5 mm wide at the mouth, with 3 rounded, striate, 1.5 mm long lobes; corolla 7-9 mm by 3-4 mm, divided to quarter of its length; stamens united into 4 mm long epipetalous ring, free filaments up to 0.1 mm, anthers up to 0.5 mm; ovary 1 mm by 1.5 mm, tipped by 1 mm long style. Fruit at maturity, 1-seeded, globose or cylindrical, 1.6-2.2 cm long by 1.7-2 cm wide, with 18-22 vertical rows of scales. Seed ± compressed, 1-1.2 cm long by 0.8-1 cm wide by 0.6-0.8 cm thick, rounded on one side, embryo lateral, raised into conspicuous 1.5 mm long stalk-like organ.
Eremospatha laurentii is found in both open areas as well as in closed-canopy forest. However, this species responds particularly well to selective logging and is a common component of regrowth vegetation where it occurs.
Native to, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo
This species occurs predominantly in the lowland forests of the northern Congo Basin. However, intriguingly, there are outliers of this species found in the forests of Upper Guinea, with a pronounced disjunction from Ivory Coast to Benin.