Roystonea oleracea


Plant Family: Member of the Arecaceae or Palm family, called the West Indian Royal Palm, Royal Palm, Imperial Palm or Cabbage Palm; very similar to R. regia, the Cuban Royal Palm, also called Royal Palm, Boat Palm, and Bottle Palm; other family members include the Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) and the Talipot or Century Palm (Corypha umbraculifera).

Description: Imposing, very stately, up to 30 m tall (100 ft), with light gray, erect, cylindrical trunk up to 22 m (70 ft); leaves in crown at top of stem, 3-5 m long (10-16 ft) with leaflets of about 1 m (3.25 ft) in two horizontal ranks; leafstalks, of about 1.5 m (5 ft), broaden to surround and sheath stem; flowers born in large-stalked panicles revealed when the leaf-sheaths beneath them drop off; abundant blue-violet fruit are small, obovoid, and without stalks; R. oleraceae not to be confused with R. regia; latter very similar with its dark red, but round fruit, and differs from R. oleraceae in having more fruit bunches concurrently; additionally, R. regia tends in younger trees to a more obvious swelling or thickening of the trunk at or near the middle, and so was used by the indigenous Indians for canoe building, hence one of its common names, Boat Palm; also, R. oleraceae has ascending leaves giving the crown a somewhat flat appearance, whereas R. regia has lower-drooping, more feathery leaves, in an almost globose crown.

Habitat: Regions near sea level with moderate rainfall; in Dominica, apart from the Gardens, good examples can be seen at Mt Joy, Mero, and Springfield Estate.

Origin and Distribution: Native to Trop. America, now found in most of the tropics and semi-tropics.

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