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COPERNICIA macroglossa

Image of Copernicia macroglossa

James H. Schutte

Family

Arecaceae

Botanical Name

COPERNICIA macroglossa

Plant Common Name

Cuban Petticoat Palm

General Description

Distinguished by its spiky crown of bold, fan-shaped fronds, this unique, small palm comes from savannas of western Cuba.

Thirty to forty large, rich green, nearly stemless fronds crowd atop the solitary trunk, forming a domed, urchin-like crown. The fronds are divided into numerous stiff blade-like segments that radiate like the spokes of an umbrella. They may have waxy gray-green undersides. A picturesque "skirt" of dead leaves fringes the base of the crown, sometimes to the bottom of the trunk. Plants are initially stemless, developing a trunk after a decade or more. The skirt can be removed to reveal the smooth gray trunk, which is faintly ringed with petiole scars. In spring or summer, older specimens bear dense clusters of small creamy flowers in long upright inflorescences. The flowers are perfect, containing both mail and female parts. Small spherical fruits follow the flowers, ripening black in late summer or fall. Birds and bats eat the fruits.

Grow this slow-growing palm in full sun and well-drained, humus-rich soil. It tolerates drought, salt, and several degrees of frost. It grows most vigorously if watered occasionally in summer. Use this striking and unusual palm as an individual specimen or in formal groupings.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 5

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 12

  • Plant Type

    Palm or Cycad

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    8'-30' / 2.4m - 9.1m

  • Width

    8'-12' / 2.4m - 3.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Caribbean

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Very Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Brown, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Bark Color

    Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No