Coccothrinax readii

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Coccothrinax (koh-koh-TRIH-naks)
readii (reh-AH-dee)
C. Readii 043.jpg
Coccothrinax readii 15 yrs from seedling, Palm Springs, Ca.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Coccothrinax (koh-koh-TRIH-naks)
readii (reh-AH-dee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Palmate
Survivability index
Common names
Knacás. Mexican silver palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Coccothrinax readii is endemic to Mexico Southeast. Peninsula of Yucatan, from the
Fairchild Botanical Gardens, FL.
southern region of the state of Quintana Roo to near Sisal on the northwestern coast of the state of Yucatan. (H.J. Quero. 1980)/Palmweb.

Coccothrinax readii is a very abundant palm where it grows, occurring in Median or Low Tropical Rain Forests near the coast and in Sandy Coastal Dunes. In the Median Forest, this palm is an important element of the physiognomy. It is very abundant in the median stratum under the shade of species such as Manilkara zapota, Metopium brownei, Caesalpinia gaumeri, etc. It grows under conditions of high humidity and on shallow soils with abundant humus not more than 10 to 15 cm deep where it reaches its best development. It is common to find it with brownish trunks usually tall (4 m), but very slender, not more than 4 cm in diameter. Leaves are large, 80-110 cm in diameter, with petioles 70-110 cm long. The hastula can be slightly bifid and is frequently tubular on account of the expansion of the blade. This kind of forest with knacas is exclusively found in Quintana Roo, from the south to the environs of Cancun: it is in the southern region that C. readii grows farthest inland (30 km), while it is never found more than 2 km inland in the environs of Cancun. The Low Forest where this palm is found is in the transition zone between the Median Forest and the Sandy Dunes. These forests grow in the middle region of Quintana Roo (environs of Tulum) near the coast where the humidity is also high but soils are poorer and very rocky, with coralline limestone outcrops. The habit of C. readii is similar to that of specimens of Median Forest, but it is generally smaller, the mean height being 2.5 m. The palm is associated with Metopium brownei, Thevetia thevetioides, Acacia gaumeri, Pithecellobium platylobum, Beaucarnea pliabilis, and Pseudophoenix sargentii. This species grows on Sandy Dunes from the coast of Tulum in Quintana Roo to Sisal in Yucatan, where it is exposed to the sun and sea breezes, and it is here that C. readii presents its widest variations. It is generally smaller, but trunks are wider and grayish, the hastula is deeply bifid, the inflorescences are shorter and frequently the terminal primary branches are not well developed. In the dunes of Tulum, humidity is high: this zone is exposed to frequent rainfall, as well as to the strong sea breezes. Here, C. readii is very vigorous, more than 2 m high with trunks 5 cm in diameter, and leaves are large, to 110 cm in diameter, with segments to 3.8 cm wide and petioles 1 m long.



Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: Named in honor of Dr. Robert W. Read of the Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institution.

Uses: The trunks are used in the construction of rustic houses and fences.

"Thrinax has white berries and Coccothrinax has purple, if you ever catch them in seed." (Scott)

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).

Quero, H.J.1980. Coccothrinax readii, A New Species From the Peninsula of Yucatan, Mexico. Principes 24: 118-124.

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

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