Acrocomia aculeata

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Macaw Palm

Acrocomia (ak-roh-koh-MEE-ah)
aculeata (ah-koo-leh-AH-tah)
Acrocomia acuelata.jpg
Palm growing in Condovac La Costa Hotel in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Acrocomia (ak-roh-koh-MEE-ah)
aculeata (ah-koo-leh-AH-tah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Sun exposure: Full sun
Survivability index
Common names
Coyol, Será, Ukrá, Uakrá, Zurí, Macaw Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Acrocomia aculeata is an extremely widespread palm from tropical America.
Large specimen, Trinidad, West Indies.
Its range begins in eastern Brazil, and extends north through Venezuela, Colombia, and Central America. Cuba and the other Carribean Islands also provide habitat for this variable species. It has been speculated that such a broad range was assisted by the migrations and cultures of the prehistoric peoples of this region.

Argentina Northeast, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Leeward Is., Mexico Gulf, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Suriname, Trinidad-Tobago, Venezuela, and the Windward Is.


These impressive palms bear a superficial resemblance to the majestic Royal palm from a distance, due to its size and attractive form. However on closer inspection, the copious spines on most forms, along with the plumose character of the leaves, give its true identity away even to the relatively uninformed. Editing by edric.


PFC for PP.png

This palm can be very fast growing and surprisingly cold hardy. However, because this species is so variable, its growth characteristics can be variable as well. It is most common in open sunny areas, and is fairly drought tolerant. However, it makes a much more attractive specimen with adequate water. It is tolerant of many soils and conditions, but will not handle shady locations. One must be careful when planting such a vicious palm. As a juvenile, with its sharp and plentiful spines, it can present a hazard to children and pets, not to mention, the well caring gardener.

In climates like Florida (including the central part) these are very fast-growing palms. According to informants in Orlando, Acrocomia can reach 30 feet (10 m) tall in about 5 - 10 years. They are much slower-growing in Mediterranean climates like Southern California, but will thrive with plenty of water. In any climate, avoid placing where they might get bumped into by sensitive people.

Comments and Curiosities

At one time, due to the previously mentioned variabilty, there were 2 dozen described species. Today, according to who you recognize, there are as few as two. The uses of all parts of this palm would take several paragraphs to list, and would provide interesting reading.

External Links


Field Guide to the Palms of the Americas by Andrew Henderson, Gloria Galeano, Rodrigo Bernal. Page 166.

All information tranlated from the French, and Spanish, edric.

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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