Roystonea altissima

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Roystonea (roy-ston-EH-ah)
altissima (ahl-TIHS-sihm-ah)
Roystonea altissima2.jpg
Clarendon Parish Region, Jamaica. Photo:
Scientific Classification
Genus: Roystonea (roy-ston-EH-ah)
altissima (ahl-TIHS-sihm-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Jamaican cabbage tree, Jamaican royal palm, Mountain cabbage palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Roystonea altissima is
SoCal. Photo by Geoff Stein.
endemic to the limestone hillsides and mountains of Jamaica, up to 760 m.


Trunk gray-brown, to 20 m tall, 25.5-35 cm in diam., smooth. Leaves about 15, lowest leaves hanging well below the horizontal; crownshaft 1.4-1.6 m long; rachis about 4 m long; middle segments 60-79 cm long and 3.2-3.9 cm wide. Inflorescence about 1.2 m long and 1 m wide; prophyll 30.5-40 cm long and 6.5-13.5 cm wide; peduncular bract about 1 m long, widest at the middle, apex acuminate; rachillae 15-34 cm long and 1.3-2.6 mm in diam. Staminate flowers violet, darkest at the bases of petals and filaments; sepals triangular, 0.9 mm long and 1-1.5 mm wide; petals elliptical, 3.6-5.9 mm long and 2.1-2.5 mm wide; stamens 6, 2.7-4.8 mm long, filaments awl-shaped, 1.9-3.8 mm long, anthers 2.3-3.7 mm long; pistillode minute. Pistillate flowers violet, 2.5-4 per cm; sepals reniform, 0.9-1.4 mm long and 2.5-3.2 mm wide; petals ovate, 2.7-3.4 mm long; staminode shallowly 6-lobed, 1.7-2.5 mm long, free for 0.6-0.9 mm; gynoecium 1.7-1.8 mm long and 1.5-2 mm in diam. Fruits obovoid and gibbous, 11.4-15.3 mm long, 7.2-10.4 mm dorsiventral thickness, and 6.7-10.3 mm wide; epicarp black, Stigmatic scar plain; endocarp ellipsoid, 11.8-13.8 mm long 7.7-8.7 mm dorsiventral thickness, and 6.8-8 mm wide; seed ellipsoid, gibbous, 9.3-10.7 mm long, 5.6-6.8 mm dorsiventral thickness, and 6.5-7.3 mm wide; raphe circular. Eophyll linear-lanceolate, n = 18 (Read, 1966). (Zona S.)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

This tall and slender species is relatively common in Jamaica's interior. Its dark trunk and violet flowers allies this species with R. violacea of eastern Cuba; however, the two are clearly distinct on the basis of fruit morphology and endocarp texture. The fruits of R. altissima are obovoid and gibbous with durable en-docarps; those of R. violacea are spheroid with fragile endocarps. (Zona S.)/Palmweb.


Comments and Curiosities

Uses: Leaves and leafsheaths are used for thatch and wrapping material. Inflorescence used for brooms.

"This palm looks NOTHING like a normal regia--In fact, this is the most distinguished in the genus. The Altissima is smaller in every detail, except for the spathe(flower stalk). If one were to see this palm in regard to another royal, the altissima would look weak and small--without getting technical, it looks like a miniature regia, except for the seedpods which are of equal size." (Andrew)

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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