Copernicia cowellii

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Copernicia (koh-pehr-nee-SEE-ah)
cowellii (cow-ell'-ee)
In habitat. Photo-Rare Palm
Scientific Classification
Genus: Copernicia (koh-pehr-nee-SEE-ah)
cowellii (cow-ell'-ee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names
Dwarf Jata Palm

Habitat and Distribution

Copernicia cowellii is endemic to Camagüey Province in Eastern Cuba. In
Cuba, photo by Paul Craft.
serpentine soils of the savannah.


This very slow growing palm, and is the smallest palm from the Copernicia genus. It has a single trunk and large, flat, fan shaped leaves, with waxy, stiff, green fronds, that are whitish underneath, and the dead leaves form a skirt below the crown. Erect trunk, usually no taller than 2.5 m. Very short petioles. Leaf lamina is rigid and rounded, and has a grey and waxy underside. Leaflets with unarmed margins and blunt apex. The dead fronds persist and hang as a curtain covering much of the trunk. Black fruits. Editing by edric.


Mild subtropical. Needs full sun, and well-drained soil. Drought tolerant. Very slow growing.

Comments and Curiosities

A truly unique dwarf palm from savanna on serpentine soils in eastern Cuba. Despite its small size -- it rarely grows more than 2 m (7 ft.) tall -- it is an absolutely stunning palm with a very distinctive character that, once seen, is never forgotten. The leathery fan leaves are a fresh, yellowish green above and waxy white below. The leaf stalk is so short that the individual leaves are hard to tell from each other and appear more as a mass of spiky leaflets that form a very compact crown. The dead leaves form a skirt below the crown. Copernicia cowellii demands a place in full sun on free draining soil. It is best adapted to dry tropical climates but will also do well under most warm temperate conditions. It is tolerant of drought and light freezes. (

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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