Palm, Florida Royal

Palm, Florida RoyalPalm, Florida Royal — Roystonea (Royal Palm) is a genus of 10 species of monoecious palms, native to tropical regions of Florida, the Caribbean, and the adjacent coasts of Central and South America. Named for Roy Stone, a U.S. Army engineer, the genus contains some of the most recognizable and commonly cultivated palms (R. regia) in tropical and subtropical regions.

Roystonea species are single-stemmed trees, average in height to among the world’s tallest. Growing from 10-30 m tall, the trunks are white, or nearly so, often bulging either at the base or the central portion, depending on the species. The leaves are pinnate, 3-7 m long with numerous (about 100) pinnae up to 1 m long and 2-4 cm broad; the leaves also have a distinctive green basal sheath (crownshaft) extending 2-5 m down the trunk. These plants have the ability to easily release their leaves in strong winds, a supposed adaption serving to prevent toppling during hurricanes. Inflorescences occur beneath the crownshaft, emerging from a narrow, horn-shaped bract. The flowers on the branched panicles are usually white, unisexual, and contain both sexes. The fruit is an oblong or globose drupe 1-2 cm long and deep purple when ripe. Some species so closely resemble one another that scientific differentiation is by inflorescence detail; flower size, color, etc.

Royal palms are widely planted for decorative purposes throughout their native region, and elsewhere in the tropics and subtropics. They are considered by many to be the most beautiful palm in the world.

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