Roystonea violacea

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Roystonea (roy-ston-EH-ah)
violacea (vee-oh-lah-SEH-ah)
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Roystonea violacea, Guantánamo, Cuba. Photo by Duanny Suárez.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Roystonea (roy-ston-EH-ah)
violacea (vee-oh-lah-SEH-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Palma criolla azul, palma morada, palma roja.

Habitat and Distribution

Roystonea violacea is Restricted to the Maisf region of the
"The most easterly point of Cuba. East of the Rio Yumuri, along the road from Sabana to La Maquina, This area is arround 200 meters above sea level, with a humid climate. you can see this palm with a more or less purple or pink trunk." Photo by Alexander.
province of Guantánamo, Cuba, at 350-420 meters altitude.


"Roystonea violacea, is a large palm which reaches heights of 15 metres (49 ft.). Stems are mauve-brown to mauve-grey, and are about 34 centimetres (13 in.) in diameter. The upper portion of the stem is encircled by leaf sheaths, forming a green portion known as the crownshaft (extended petiole), which is normally 2 m. (6.6 ft.) long. Crown holds about 15 leaves, with 80 centimetres (31 in.) petioles (not counting the crownshaft), and 3.2–3.6-metre (10–12 ft.) rachises. The 1.3 m. (4.3 ft.) inflorescences bear violet, male and female flowers (monoecious). Fruit are 12–13.7 millimetres (0.47–0.54 in) long, and 7.8–8.5 mm. (0.31–0.33 in.) wide, and are brown to black when ripe."

Trunk is mauve-brown to mauve-gray, to 15 m. tall, about 34 cm. in diam. Leaves about 15, lowest leaves hanging well below the horizontal; crownshaft about 2 m. long; petiole about 80 cm. long; rachis 3.2-3.6 m. long; middle segments 95-104 cm. long, and 3.7-4 cm. wide. Inflorescence about 1.3 m. long and 1 m. wide; prophyll 40-42 cm. long and 12-13 cm. wide, peduncular bract about 1.2 m. long. widest above middle, apex acuminate; rachillae 17- 20 cm long and 1.4-2 mm in diam. Staminate flowers violet, darker toward the base of the petals and filaments; sepals triangular, about 0.9 mm. long, and 1.2 mm. wide; petals ovate, about 5.1 mm. long, and 2.9 mm. wide; stamens 6, ca. 5.8 mm. long; filaments awl-shaped, about 3.7 mm. long; anthers about 3.7 mm. long, purple; pistillode minute. Pistillate flowers violet, 2-2.5 per cm.; sepals reniform, about 1.2 mm. long, and 3.3 mm. wide; petals ovate, coriaceous, about 3 mm. long; staminode shallowly 6-lobed, about 2.3 mm long, free for about 1.2 mm; gynoecium about 2.4 mm long and 2.5 mm in diam. Fruits spheroid to ellipsoid, 12-13.7 mm. long, 8.1-9 mm. dorsiventral thickness, and 7.8-8.5 mm. wide; epicarp brown to black, stigmatic scar plain; endocarp ellipsoid, fragile, 7.8-8.5 mm. long, 5.9-6.6 mm. dorsiventral thickness, and 6.2-6.5 mm. wide; seed dorsiventrally compressed ellipsoid, 5.8-9.3 mm. long, 4.3-5.3 mm. dorsiventral thickness, and 5.3-6 mm. wide; raphe circular. Eophyll linearlanceolate. exstipitate, weakly costatc. (Zona S.)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

As mentioned above (see Roystonea maisiana), mixed materials in the type collection of R. violacea, have hindered our understanding of this species. The above description draws heavily on collections made by the author in 1990 (Zona, 1991). The staminode, fruit, and seed illustrated by León (1943: pI. 1,), belong to R. maisiana, as does the fruit illustrated by Bailey (1949). Bailey's illustration of the flower, appears to be correctly identified. Regrettably, botanical collections are still so incomplete, that I cannot say if the prophylls illustrated by León (1943) in his plate 1, are properly identified. The specimen and seeds collected by J. M. Leiva in Imías, and distributed under the number Zona & Leiva 396 were misidentified. Molecular analysis shows that this collection is not R. violacea; it appears to be nothing other than R. regia. (Zona S.)/Palmweb.


Same requirements as for R. regia.


This Taxa IS still in question!

Uses: Like all Cuban Roystonea, this species is used for timber, thatch, and hog feed.

A stunning and exceedingly rare Roystonea native to eastern most Cuba, where it grows to 450 m (1500 ft.) elevation, in open mostly cultivated areas. It differs from other Roystonea in that it has a more slender, darker, purplish-brown trunk. (

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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