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BiologyThe spiny spathes that enclose the inflorescences are a distinguishing character of this plant. They develop at the base of the leaves which encircle the trunk, and when the leaf falls from the tree, this frees the spathe so it moves away from the trunk and sits at right angles to the tree. The spathe then splits, drops off, and the drooping inflorescences unfurl (4) (5). The fallen spathes on the ground under the palm are said to resemble hedgehogs (4).