Roystonea princeps

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Roystonea (roy-ston-EH-ah)
princeps (PREEN-sehps)
Post-747-086758400 1327008393.jpg
Jamaica. Photo by Jeff in St Pete
Scientific Classification
Genus: Roystonea (roy-ston-EH-ah)
princeps (PREEN-sehps)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Morass cabbage palm, Morass royal palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Roystonea princeps is found on Jamaica Island. This species is locally abundant
Jamaica. Photo by Jeff in St Pete
in the Great Morass region of western Jamaica, in the vicinities of Black River and Negril. Occurs in the Great Morass region of western Jamaica. Two main subpopulations exist, covering an area of less than 400 km². The total population size is unknown but estimated at between 5,000 and 10,000 individuals. (Zona, S. 1998)


Roystonea princeps is a large palm which reaches heights of 20 metres (66 ft). Stems are grey-white and range from 27.5–42 centimetres (10.8–16.5 in) in diameter. The upper portion of the stem is encircled by leaf sheaths, forming a green portion known as the crownshaft which is normally about 1.8 m (5.9 ft) long. Individuals have about 15 leaves with 4-metre (13 ft) rachises. The 1.3 m (4.3 ft) inflorescences bear creamy yellow male and female flowers; the anthers of the male flowers are purplish. Fruit are 12.2–16.7 millimetres (0.48–0.66 in) long and 8.4–10.4 mm (0.33–0.41 in) wide, and are purplish-black when ripe.

Trunk gray-white, to 20 m tall, 27.5-42 cm diam. Leaves about 15, lowest leaves hanging below the horizontal; crownshaft about 1.8 m long; rachis about 4 m long; middle segments 75-78.5 cm long and 4.3- 5.9 cm wide. Inflorescence about 1.3 m long and 1 m wide, appearing diffuse and open; prophyll not seen; peduncular bract about 1.8 m long and 21 cm wide, widest at the middle, apex caudate; rachillae 29-34.5 cm long and 1.1-2 mm in diam., lax. Staminate flowers white; sepals triangular, about 0.4 mm long and 0.7 mm wide; petals elliptical to linear, about 3.4 mm long and 1.8 mm wide; stamens 6, about 3.1 mm long; filaments awl-shaped, about 2.4 mm long; anthers about 2 mm long, purplish; pistillode minute. Pistillate flowers white, 2-3.5 per cm; sepals reniform, 0.8-1 mm long and 2.5-3.1 mm wide; petals ovate, 2.5-2.9 mm long; staminode 6-lobed, 1.7-2.2 mm long, free for 0.6-0.7 mm; gynoecium 1.7-2.6 mm long and 1.7-2.1 mm in diam. Fruits ellipsoid to obovoid, gibbous, 12.2-16.7 mm long, 8.7-11.7 mm dorsiventral thickness, and 8.4-10.4 mm wide; epicarp purplish black, stigmatic scar plain; endocarp ellipsoid, 10.4-13.5 mm long, 6.8-1l.1 mm dorsiventral thickness, and 6.2-7.6 mm wide; seed ellipsoid, 9.7-11.5 mm long, 5.5-6.7 mm dorsiventral thickness, and 5.7-6.7 mm wide; raphe circular. Eophyll lanceolate, 15-19 cm long and 2- 2.7 cm wide, stipitate, short costate. n = 18 (Read, 1966). (Zona S.)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Much the same as for R. regia. Thirty-four to 36-year-old individuals grown in cultivation at Fairchild Tropical Garden in Florida grew 20 to 26 centimetres (8 to 10 in) per year. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

"The R. princeps we are growing made it through the past 2 cold winters with only minor burn. It doesn't seem any more tender than other Roystonea." (H.P. Leu Gardens Botanist Eric S.)

"I spent a couple weeks in Jamaica over the holidays and took lots of photos of Roystonea princeps. This Royal is native to Jamaica and can be found growing in and around the Great Morass which is a coastal flood plain (turned into a Reserve) located near Negril. Ever since Lethal Yellowing killed most of the Jamaican Tall Coconuts, this native Royal has been used more and more in landscapes. I can't be 100% sure that all the Royals in these photos are actually Roystonea princeps, some could be R. altissima, but I do not know how to tell them apart. They are supposed to be very similar." (Jeff in St Pete) See photos below

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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