Pseudophoenix ekmanii

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Pseudophoenix (soo-doh-FEH-niks)
ekmanii (ehk-mahn'-ee)
IPS 2005-10-04 12-19-28.jpg
2006 IPS Biennial - Republica Dominicana, Jaragua National Park. Jeff Searle giving scale. Photo Courtesy - Searle Brothers Nursery Florida. Photo:bRyan D. Gallivan.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Pseudophoenix (soo-doh-FEH-niks)
ekmanii (ehk-mahn'-ee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Dominican Cherry palm, Cacheo de Oviedo (Spanish).

Habitat and Distribution

Pseudophoenix ekmanii occurs at low elevations in the Parque Nacional Jaragua and
Parque Nacional Jaragua, Dominican Republic. Photo by Pierre-Olivier ALBANO
Isla Beata, Dominican Republic. The vegetation in classified by Hager and Zanoni (1993) as Barahona Peninsula Dry Forest, and the substrate is limestone with little or no overlying soil. The region receives 630–800 mm of precipitation per year and has a distinct dry season from December to May (Hager & Zanoni 1993). (S. Zona. 2002)/Palmweb.

Dry lowland scrub on the Barahona Peninsula, Dominican Republic.


An extremely distinctive, medium sized, solitary pinnate palm to about 5m tall with dark green, semi-glossy leaves to 2.5m long. They have a swollen stem, thickest towards the top, greyish-green in colour, with distinctive rings. The fruit are reddish with a diameter of about 2 centimetres in diameter.(S. Zona. 2002)/Palmweb.

Stem 5–6 m tall, strongly ventricose, most slender above the swelling, about 60 cm diameter breast high, with prominent brown leaf scars and waxy white internodes when young, gray when mature. Leaves about 12 in the crown, spreading (mature) or ascending (juvenile); leaf about 2–3 m long; sheath about 35 cm long, green with silvery gray scales near the apex; petiole absent; rachis about 161 cm long, often with brown scales along its margin; number of leaf segments per one side of the rachis not known; middle leaf segment 31.0–39.5 cm long, 1.7–2.3 cm wide, lanceolate with an acuminate tip, gray-green, densely glaucous on both sides, ramenta present on the abaxial surface of the midvein at the base of the leaf segment. Inflorescence erect, ascending or arching, branched to 3 orders, about 154 cm long; peduncle not extending far beyond the leaf sheaths, glabrous; prophyll not seen; inner bract not seen; rachillae 5.9–8.0 cm long and 0.8–0.9 mm in diam., divaricating. Flower pseudopedicel 7.2–7.6 mm long, 0.4–0.5 mm in diam., green to glaucous; calyx a shallow triangular cupule, 3.5–3.8 mm in diam., green to glaucous, margins hyaline; petals ovate, about 7.0 mm long and 3.7 mm wide, green, glaucous abaxially, spreading, with about 13 major veins; filaments 1.3–1.7 mm long, briefly connate, anthers ovoid, about 2.8 mm long, about 1.5 mm wide, yellow; gynoecium and pistillode not seen. Fruit 11.8–14.3 mm long, 11.7–13.2 mm in diam. (in single-seeded fruits); endocarp 11.7–13.2 mm long, 11.1–12.6 mm in diam., about 0.2 mm thick. Seed 6.8–7.1 mm long, 8.5–9.4 mm in diam. (S. Zona. 2002)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

This poorly known species is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Pseudophoenix. As juveniles, the trunks are waxy white with brown nodes and the leaves are gray and stiff. At maturity, the stems become strongly ventricose to bottle-shaped. They are striking palms. Pseudophoenix ekmanii resembles P. vinifera, in that they both have strongly ventricose trunks. Unlike that of P. vinifera, the trunk of P. ekmanii has waxy white internodes when young. Pseudophoenix ekmanii has a divaricating inflorescence and smaller fruits (<13.2 mm in diam.), whereas the inflorescence of P. vinifera has distally directed branches and the fruits are larger (16.2–22.2 mm in diam.). At any stage, P. ekmanii is easily distinguished from any other species by its absence of a petiole, that is to say, there is no obvious petiole between the sheathing leaf base and the leafy rachis. Read (1968) reported that the stamen filaments are short (less than 1.5 mm long), but his observation was made from immature flower buds. The filament length reported here is based on the persistent filaments of the immature fruits of Zanoni et al. 36100. (S. Zona. 2002)/Palmweb.


Sunny, moist, but well drained position. Prefers a limestone based soil. Very slow growing. Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b.

They are maybe one of the slowest palms in the world for the first 15 or so years... but the next 15 years, this palm explodes! When this palm finally gets some resources to work with, it really speeds up. (Andrew Street)

Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: The specific epithet, Honors the early 20th century Swedish botanist, Erik Ekman, who worked extensively in the Caribbean area.

Conservation: Although virtually the entire population of Pseudophoenix ekmanii occurs in a national park, the palm is still harvested for its sweet sap which is fermented into alcohol. Decapitated juveniles attest to the activities of sap poachers. In addition, seed harvesting, if excessive, may threaten the reproductive health of the population. (S. Zona. 2002)/Palmweb.

Uses: The sap is used for palm wine production, which usually results in the death of the tree, and the seeds are collected for stock feed.

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).

Zona, S.2002. A Revision of Pseudophoenix. Palms 46(1) 19-38.

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

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