Roystonea maisiana

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Roystonea (roy-ston-EH-ah)
maisiana (MY-see-ahn-ah)
Fairchild Botanical Gardens, Coral Gables FL. Photos by Andrew.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Roystonea (roy-ston-EH-ah)
maisiana (MY-see-ahn-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Palma negra.

Habitat and Distribution

Roystonea maisiana is endemic to the Maisí region of the province of Guantánamo,
Fairchild Botanical Gardens, Coral Gables FL. Photos by Andrew.
eastern Cuba, at 350-420 meters altitude.


"Roystonea maisiana, is a large palm which reaches heights of 20 metres (66 ft.). Stems are grey-white, and are usually 26–50 centimetres (10–20 in.), sometimes up to 51 centimetres (20 in.), in diameter. The upper portion of the stem is encircled by leaf sheaths, forming a smooth green portion, known as the crownshaft (extended petiole), which is normally 1.5 m. (4.9 ft.) long. The crown holds about 15 leaves with 4.8-metre (16 ft.) rachises. The 0.8–1.1 m. (2.6–3.6 ft.) inflorescences bear white, male and female flowers (monoecious). Fruit are 10–13.7 millimetres (0.39–0.54 in.) long and 7.5–9.5 mm. (0.30–0.37 in.) wide, and black when ripe."

Trunk gray-white, to 20 m. tall , 26-40(-51) cm. in diam. Leaves about 15, lowest leaves hanging below the horizontal; crownshaft about 1.5 m. long; rachis ca. 4.8 m. long; middle segments 106-118 cm. long and 4.2-4.9 cm. wide. Inflorescence 0.8-1.1 m. long and about 1 m. wide; prophyll and peduncular bract not seen; rachillae 20-24 cm. long and 1.2-2.1 mm in diam. Staminate flowers white, sepals triangular, 1-1.4 mm. long and 1.3-1.5 mm. wide; petals elliptical to ovate, 4.2- 5.7 mm. long and 2,5- 2.9 mm. wide; stamens 6, 3.7-6.5 mm long, filaments awl-shaped, 2.4-4.4 mm long, anthers 2.5-4.2 mm long; pistillode minute. Pistillate flowers white, 2-3.5 per cm.; sepals reniform, 1.3- 1.7 mm. long, and 2.5-3.5 mm. wide; petals ovate, 2.7-3.5 mm. long; staminode 6-lobed, 2.1- 2.3 mm. long, free for 0.7-1 mm.; gynoecium 2.3-2.6 mm. long, and 1.7-2.2 mm in diam. Fruits ellipsoid, gibbous, 10-13.7 mm. long, 7.9-9.2 mm. dorsiventral thickness, and 7.5-9.5 mm. wide; epicarp black, stigmatic scar plain; endocarp ellipsoid, 8.8-10.3 mm. long, 5.9-7.4 mm. dorsiventral thickness, and 5.8-7.4 mm. wide; seed ellipsoid, 7.6-10 mm. long, 4.6-5.9 mm. dorsiventral thickness, and 5.2-6.8 mm. wide; raphe circular. Eophyll linear-lanceolate, 12-15 cm. long and 1.2-2.2 cm. wide, stipitate, short costate. (Zona S.)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Same requirements as R. regia.


"While at Fairchild Tropical Gardens (FTG), I noticed in the small grove of about six or so R. Maisianas, two of them had a burnt orange tomentum on the crownshaft(causing it to appear red, from a distance). I wasn't sure what it was, but after inspection of all the trees, there was indeed a red powdery-ness on two of them. I was wondering why only two of the six or so trees had it. Maybe this red tomentum is worn off as the crownshaft ages? Maybe the crownshaft grows this redness as it matures..? I consulted Dr. Scott Zona about this red tomentum and he was unaware of it. From the literature I have read, this palm's distinguishing features are a longer petiole(I noticed this), as well as a trunk that usually never tapers--I noticed this as well. What I also noticed(not in the books)is the huge crownshaft. My readings say 4', but they are more like 6 1/2-8' tall(the crownshaft was way taller than me). A rare and unique royal--these photos show, that the palm goes through varying stages of color... " (Andrew Street)

“R. maisiana, endemic to Maisi, where it is abundant, is much more slender and less ventricose than R. regia. I measured a population of R. maisiana and found that the trunk diameter at breast height averaged 36.5 cm, compared with an average of 46.9 cm in R. regia. This species would be an elegant palm for cultivation.” Scott Zona in “Notes on Roystonea in Cuba”. (Scott Zona)

“The endemic species of Cuba (R. lenis, R. stellata, R. maisiana and R. violacea) are not sister species - i.e., they are not more closely related to one another than to other species in the genus. Their evolutionary history is perhaps the most vexing phylogenetic problem in the genus. repeated vicariance events between eastern Cuba and other land masses in the Caribbean and Central America would not have been possible, nor can one readily envisage sympatric speciation in the Maisi. For want of alternative hypotheses, I currently favor a refugium hypothesis to explain the presence of four endemic taxa (and one widespread taxon) in eastern Cuba.” (Scott Zona)

Uses: This palm is used, as other species are in eastern Cuba, for timber, thatch, and hog 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.Roystonea.(Arecaceae: Arecoideae).

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

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