Syagrus amara

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Syagrus (sih-AHG-ruhs)
amara (ah-MAHR-ah)
Singapore Botanic Gardens. Photo by Michael
Scientific Classification
Genus: Syagrus (sih-AHG-ruhs)
amara (ah-MAHR-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Height: 20m/50ft+
Sun exposure: Full sun
Watering: Moderate
Survivability index
Common names
Overtop palm, Moca Palm

Habitat and distribution

Syagrus amara, the Overtop palm is a palm native to the West Indies, making it
Hilo Univ. Kawaii.
the only Syagrus species not native to South America. It is found in dry coastal forests in that area.


Syagrus amara is a tall slender palm to about 20 m with a crown of pinnate leaves, sometimes similar in appearance to the Coconut palm. Its fruit is presumed inedible.

Syagrus amara is a palm tree up to 20 m in height with the overall look is reminiscent of coconut. It is a majestic palm tree, large, whose aesthetic is exceptional. Its leaves are large, pinnate and slightly feathery. The inflorescences are both male flowers (to end) and female (to the base) that give rise to large ovoid fruits about 6 inches long, resembling small coconut (hence its name Ti local coconut) (From the french).


It requires a position in full sun, with well drained soil. Fast growing and frost tolerant, similar to its close relative, Syagrus romanzoffiana, the Queen palm.

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Comments and Curiosities

The only species of Syagrus not native to the South American continent. It is widely grown in the West Indies as an ornamental.

"One of the tallest of the Syagrus species (60') and the only one not native to south America. This one grows in the Antilles Islands in the Caribbean. This is also one of the least cold hardy Syagrus, growing in So Cal in the warmer areas only, though I have had seedlings for years now in pots in zone 9b against the house that have done well, but still have strap leaves. As a young palm, this one is quite ornamental in having long, wide un-split leaves (called strap leaves), that eventually split once the palm starts to grow a trunk. Not a very fast grower here in So Cal.. not sure about the tropics. Has dark green, plumose leaves with stiff leaflets. Leaves arch only so slightly... isn't hard to tell from other Syagrus." (Geoff Stein)

A stately palm, native to some Islands in the Lesser Antilles, where it grows in coastal areas. It forms a slender, tall, solitary trunk to 20 m (65 ft.) high, topped by a crown of large, spreading leaves with stiff, dark green leaflets. The hard-shelled seeds are fairly large and closely resemble miniature Coconuts that hang in clusters just below the crown when ripe. Before it was sunk into Syagrus, this species formed a genus of its own, Rhyticocos, and indeed, it has some quite unique features such as the ruminate endosperm, much like a Beccariophoenix. It also is the only species of Syagrus not native to the South American continent. It is adaptable and does well in most tropical and subtropical climates and will withstand 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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