Prestoea acuminata

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Prestoea (pres-toh-EH-ah)
acuminata (ah-koo-mih-NAH-tah)
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"Cerro de la Punta, El Yunque National Forest, Camuy (where the Prestoea acuminata var. montana), and a swimming hole by Patinillas in Puerto Rico." Photo by Kyle Wicomb
Scientific Classification
Genus: Prestoea (pres-toh-EH-ah)
acuminata (ah-koo-mih-NAH-tah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary & clustering, often caespitose.
Leaf type: Pinnate
Height: 6-15 m
Trunk diameter: 4-20 cm
Survivability index
Common names
Palmito dulce, Palma ramosilla, PREMON, Sierran palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti,
"Cerro de la Punta, El Yunque National Forest, Camuy (where the Prestoea acuminata var. montana), and a swimming hole by Patinillas in Puerto Rico." Photo by Kyle Wicomb
Leeward Is., Nicaragua, Panamá, Peru, Puerto Rico, Trinidad-Tobago, Venezuela, Windward Is. Widespread in the Antilles, Central America, and in the Andes from Colombia to Bolivia at 1000-2500 m elevation. It is found throughout the Greater Antilles as well as the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean. Generally found in tall mountains of up to 1300 feet high. It forms the forestry of creeks up high in the mountains and on the steep mountainside of the highest peaks in Puerto Rico. It is found in Toro Negro State Forest, in the Puerto Rico Cordillera Central. The plant is native to Puerto Rico.


Stems solitary or caespitose (growing in tufts or clumps), and then with 2-12 stems per plant, erect or slightly leaning, (3+) 6-15 m tall, 4-20 cm in diam., usually gray with lichens, often with a cone of roots visible at the base. Leaves 4-10 per crown, spreading or erect; sheath closed for 1/3-½ its length and forming a partial crownshaft, 26-80 (-108) cm long, green, dark green, purplish, violet, or reddish brown, densely to moderately covered with appressed, brown, fimbriate scales; petiole 0-30 (-60) cm long, densely whitish brown tomentose adaxially, usually glabrous abaxially, glabrescent; rachis (0.6-) 1.1-2.6 m long, with tomentum like that of petiole; pinnae 30-60 per side, regularly spaced and stiffly spreading in the same horizontal plane, seldom erect, subopposite or alternate, linear-lanceolate, coriaceous, with prominent midvein adaxially and abaxially and with several prominent lateral veins, the midvein with ramenta abaxially; basal pinna 39-69 x 0.5-2 cm; middle pinnae (0.3-) 0.6-1.2 m x (2+) 3-6.5 cm; apical pinna 13-34 x 0.5-2.5 cm. Inflorescences corymbose, infrafoliar at anthesis; peduncle 3-20 cm long, 1-3 (-4) cm in diam. at peduncular bract scar, terete or slightly dorsiventrally compressed; prophyll 23-51 cm long, 4-6 (-12) cm in diam.; peduncular bract 63-98 cm long including a 3 cm long umbo, to 6 (-12) cm in diam., almost terete, often with other incomplete bracts present distally; rachis (17+) 40-85 cm long; rachillae 23-117, 18-74 cm long proximally, 9.5-23 cm long distally, to 6 mm in diam. in fruit, each subtended by a small bract or sometimes the proximal few rachillae with bracts to 6 cm long, almost glabrous or typically with scattered to numerous short crustose or granular hairs, occasionally intermixed with a few longer, flexuous, branched hairs or sometimes with a dense covering of branched hairs; flowers in triads proximally, paired or solitary staminate distally; triad bracteole low, apiculate; first flower bracteole obscure, second and third flower bracteoles ± equal, apiculate, 0.3-0.5 mm long; staminate flowers 4-6 mm long, either sessile or on short, flattened pedicels; sepals deltate to narrowly triangular, 1.5-2.5 mm long, gibbous; petals ovate or lanceolate, 3-5.5 mm long, white or pink with purple apex; stamens arranged on a short receptacle; filaments 1.5- 2.5 mm long, flattened; anthers 2-3.5 mm long; pistillode 2-3 mm long, trifid at apex; pistillate flowers 2.5-4 mm long; sepals shallowly triangular or depressed-ovate, 2-4 mm long; petals shallowly triangular to depressed ovate, 2-4 mm long; staminodes deltate or digitate. Fruits globose, rarely ovoid or obovoid, 1-1.2 (-1.8) cm in diam., the stigmatic remains lateral; epicarp purple-black, sparsely and minutely tuberculate; seeds globose, 0.8-1.4 cm in diam.; endosperm ruminate; eophyll bifid. (Gloria Galeano and A. Henderson)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


"Likes rich, very well drained soil. Usually prefers some shade unless the humidity is very high." (Brandt Maxwell)

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Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: The specific epithet montana, from the Latin, meaning literally; "from the mountain".

Uses: The fruit is eaten by the indigenous, mammals and birds, as well as the leaves of the species are used as thatch for building roofs. Is highly valued by the local population as a source of palm heart, which is the edible young apical meristem. For this reason, there is some local interest in cultivating this species. The fruit of Prestoea montana (Sierra Palm) is the favorite food of the Puerto Rican parrot. The leaf buds are commonly harvested as a food crop, both for local use and for export. The plant is also a source of wood material for thatching. Where growing wild, the plant serves a useful purpose of maintaining the watershed and protecting the soil from erosion. The stem is mainly pithy, with an outer ring of hard, durable wood. This outer stemwood is sometimes hewn into narrow boards for sheathing rural buildings.

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).

Gloria Galeano and A. Henderson. Flora Neotropica. New York Botanical Garden.

Van den Eynden, V., E. Cueva, and O. Cabrera, Edible palms of Southern Ecuador. 2004. 2004. Edible palms of Southern Ecuador.

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

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