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March 4th, 2021

Cuban Petticoat is an Easy-Going Palm

by R.S. Walsh

The Cuban Petticoat Palm Tree, Copernicia macroglossa, is native to Cuba and a really great specimen palm to add to the landscape. The unique feature of this palm is its fan-shaped leaves that have no petioles. If not removed, dry old leaves form a “petticoat” giving the palm a “dressed” appearance, hence the name Cuban Petticoat Palm Tree.

Cuban Petticoat Palm has a single gray trunk that is topped with a crown of 10-12 fan-shaped, stiff, erect fronds that grow in the form of a spiral. The leaves have almost no petioles and grow from the top of the trunk. Outer leaflets are covered with sharp thick long spines. In the summer, it produces small creamy flowers. Male and female flowers are born on the same inflorescence. Flowers are followed by black oval berry-like fruits that are about 1-inch in diameter.

The growth rate for this palm is slow, but can eventually grow to 20 feet or more and about 10 feet wide. This palm will do well in partial shade to full sun and likes moist, well-drained soil, but can also tolerate some drought conditions.

This easy-going palm likes any conditions apparently, making this specimen a great conversation piece in any palm collector’s garden.

This column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, Sanibel’s retail garden center, located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel Island.

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