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COCCOTHRINAX crinita

Image of Coccothrinax crinita

James Burghardt

Family

Arecaceae

Botanical Name

COCCOTHRINAX crinita

Plant Common Name

Old Man Palm, Thatch Palm

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Once you see the thickly thatched trunk of the old man palm, you'll understand why some people insist it looks like Cousin It from the Addams Family! This threatened evergreen palm is native only to Cuba, where it sparsely inhabits grasslands and hillsides. It is slow-growing, and eventually becomes a two-story-tall, single-trunk palm over several decades. In windy growing conditions, the beard-like thatch is shed on oldest plants.

The leaves have fairly long petiole stems, causing the round leaves with stiff pointed segments to jut out from the ornate, thatch-covered trunk. Leaf upper sides are glossy light to medium green, with undersides a lighter shade of green-silver. The summertime flower stalk is long and droops down from the leafy canopy. While the tiny, light yellow individual flowers aren't showy, their collective clustering on the branched stalks can be showy. After pollination, round black fruits develop.

Grow the old man palm in full to partial sun in any well-drained, non-clay soil. It is tolerant of alkaline soil, summer heat and salt spray. It is drought tolerant, but not as much as other Coccothrinax species. Therefore, irrigate in summer's heat to maintain a moist soil and let soil become much drier across winter. When young, it is an exceptional specimen for a container on a sunny patio. Grow it outdoors in the ground in regions that receive no more than light frosts in winter, such as in the warmest parts of USDA zone 9. Old man palm looks nice in a bed surrounded with rocks and low groundcovers or in a mixed border that still allows a rather unimpeded view of the trunk.

Two naturally occurring subspecies exist. Longer and more ornamental thatch fibers develop on crinita; much shorter and sparse thatch is seen on subspecies brevicrinis.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • Plant Type

    Palm or Cycad

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    8'-25' / 2.4m - 7.6m

  • Width

    5'-8' / 1.5m - 2.4m

  • Native To

    Caribbean

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No