General Landscape Uses:
A specimen or accent palm in wet or mucky soils or along the edges of ponds or lakes. It makes an excellent visual and physical buffer planting.
Ecological Restoration Notes: A somewhat rare element of forested wetlands near the coast.
Description: Medium palm with multiple trunks forming a rounded crown. Trunks slender, upright covered with persistant leaf bases and fiber. Leaves fan shaped, green on both sides, 2-3 feet long; the leaf stems are heavily armed.
Dimensions: Typically 10-30 feet in height with a 15-25 foot spread; to 35 feet in cultivation in South Florida. Stems form dense multi-stemmed clusters to 10 feet or more across.
Growth Rate: Slow.
Miami-Dade and Collier counties and the Monroe County mainland; Bahamas, Cuba, southern Mexico, Central America and the Colombian Caribbean islands. In South Florida, native just inland of the shores of Florida Bay north and west to the Fakahatchee Strand. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.
Habitats: Bayheads, prairie hammocks, coastal berms and strand swamps, mostly in slightly brackish soils.
Soils: Wet to moist, poorly-drained to seasonally inundated organic freshwater or slightly brackish soils, with a humusy top layer.
Nutritional Requirements: High; requires rich organic soils for optimal growth.
Salt Water Tolerance: Moderate; tolerates brackish water or occasional inundation by salt water.
Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.
Drought Tolerance: Low; requires moist to wet soils and is intolerant of long periods of drought.
Light Requirements: Full sun to light shade.
Flower Color: Yellowish-green or white.
Flower Characteristics: Semi-showy inflorescence; observable from long distances.
Flowering Season: Spring-fall; peak in spring.
Fruit: Reddish-orange, turning black, 1/2" in diameter.
Wildlife and Ecology: Provides food and cover for birds and other wildlife.
Horticultural Notes: Propagated by seed, which is best de-pulped. When planted in nutrient poor or dry soils, it can become chlorotic, especially from manganese deficiency. Protected by the State of Florida.
Comments: It is widely planted outside of its historical range in South Florida, but apparently has not escaped from cultivation. The stalks (petioles) of the leaves are armed with sharp hooked prickles. It is listed as threatened by the state of Florida.