Syagrus romanzoffiana

From Palmpedia - Palm Grower's Guide
Jump to: navigation, search
Syagrus (see-AHG-ruhs)
Largo, FL. Photo by Erik
Scientific Classification
Genus: Syagrus (see-AHG-ruhs)
Cocos plumosa, Arecastrum romanzoffianum
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Height: 50 ft-75/20m
Trunk diameter: Variable 6-20 in.
Survivability index
Common names
Queen palm or Cocos plumosa, Cerus peruvianus, Jerivá.

Habitat and distribution

Syagrus romanzoffiana is Native to the South American woodlands of, Argentina
Germinated in 1993, edric, Oak Hill, Florida.
Northeast, Bolivia, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Paraguay, and Uruguay, but is now prevalent, in many other sub-tropical locations.

Origin and Habitat: South America, from northern Argentina north to eastern Brazil and west to eastern Bolivia, but widely introduced in tropical and subtropical areas due to its popularity as an ornamental garden tree. It has naturalized, often becoming invasive, in the Australian state of Queensland, in the United States state of Florida and elsewhere in favourable habitats. (

Habitat: native forest and rainforest particularly along river banks and near the coast. (

Ecology: Its fruits are sought by birds, as well as by mammals. It spreads by seed that is bat-dispersed. (


The Queen Palm is a medium-sized palm, generally reaching 10-15 meters, (30-50 feet) in height. It has a variable trunk, that can range from 6 inches to 20 inches. Fruit is bright orange, 1 inch oval "dates" hang in impressive 6' bunches creating a colorful show. The party's over though, when they fall to the ground creating sticky piles of rotting fruit, that attract disagreeable insects. On the up side, volunteer seedling palms often grow from the mess if undistubed!

Syagrus romanzoffiana is a medium-sized to large solitaire palm, quickly reaching maturity at a height of 7 to 15 metres tall. It is easy to grow and very popular in cultivation. Trunk: Single of medium thickness, upright, grey, smooth up to 20 m high (but usually less), 30-60 cm wide, ringed with widely spaced horizontal old leaf scars. (

Crown: Very characteristic with a graceful, open, irregular drooping canopy of soft and fluffy fronds. Spread 4,5-7,5 m. The dead fronds are persistent and eventually absciss from the trunk after several months, but until then, they can look quite untidy. (

Leaf type: Large sized when mature, up to 5 m long, odd pinnately compound, plumose, evergreen, alternate, glossy, bright green divided with 150–250 leaflets per side often in clusters of 2–7. Leaflet 45-100 cm long and to 3 cm wide, lanceolate with parallel venation spreading in different planes giving a plume-like appearance, margin entire. Flower: The large inflorescence, initially enclosed by 2 woody pointed bracts, is a very attractive branched panicle up to 2 m long. Flowers white to yellow-gold, showy, in groups of 3 where one flower is female and 2 male. (

Fruits: The fruits (dates) are produced in hanging crowded clusters and ripen during the winter months. They consist of a hard nut surrounded with a round or broadly ovoid, thin layer of fibrous flesh that is orange and sticky when ripe; fruit length 12-30 mm, 10–20 mm wide. The fruits are edible sweet and could be described as a mixture of plum and banana.


Queen palm is tolerant but prefers enriched sandy soils. Fertilize twice a year in spring and summer with a fertilizer that contains micronutrients, especially manganese. A deficiency of this micronutrient results in a condition called "frizzle top" which causes leaves to look frayed and torn. This condition can be corrected by spreading between 1 to 3 pounds of manganese sulphate beneath the palm (amount depends on the size of the tree). Light: Full sun is best but will do better in the blazing hot sun in places like Florida with some shade. Moisture: It will withstand some drought but keep watered for best looks and fastest growth. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9-11. Cold damage appears at 25°F, the plant freezes and dies at about 20° F. Although subtropical in nature, the Queen palm has been grown worldwide due to its cold tolerance. It can survive to -8 degrees Celsius (17 degrees Fahrenheit). Because of this, it has become very invasive worldwide, now often treated as a weed, in many countries including Australia.

Cultivation and Propagation: Syagrus romanzoffiana is a very popular palm used in landscape around the world in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions due to its imposing attractiveness and hardiness. It is easy to grow in a wide variety of conditions. Both drought and frost resistant. This is the most extensively cultivated palm along streets, highways, and in parks and gardens in southern California. Very desirable because of its erect-spreading crown of long feathery green leaves. Does not endure heavy frosts.

Soil: It is most suited for acidic, well-drained soils comprising clay; loam; sand and shows severe mineral deficiencies on alkaline soil.

Fertilization: Need a perfect fertilizer diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements or a slow release fertilizer applied in spring and summer, or according to package directions. Micronutrient deficiencies are a serious problem on soil with a high pH. This disfigures the palm by stunting the young leaves and can kill it. To prevent this problems the palm requires regular preventive applications of manganese and/or iron to help keep the fronds green. If it doesn't get enough Potassium (K), the older leaves in well-drained soils take on a necrotic spotting. Necrosis of the leaflet margins, followed by leaflet tip necrosis will also become apparent.

Water Requirements: It tolerates low levels of humidity and summer drought, though it prefers evenly moist but not consistently wet medium.. When supplied with adequate moisture and fertilizer it is also fairly fast growing. This palm is very drought tolerant once established. It dislikes soggy soils. Water young plants for healthy look and fastest growth.

Light: Can take full sun from an early age, but it also does well in part shade with some direct sunlight when young.

Aerosol salt tolerance: It is slightly salt-tolerant and may be grown near the sea protected by dunes or building.

Wind resistance: It endures drying winds.

Hardiness: These palms are some of the hardier palms, tolerating light frosts for short periods, although it will require some protection if cold periods are longer than normal. ( USDA hardiness zones: 9B through 11) Roots: Surface roots are usually not a problem.

Maintenance: The dead fronds are persistent and often require pruning to remove. As the old fronds die, these should be trimmed off and the leaf bases allowed to dry out, but is susceptible to Fusariam Wilt, a fungal disease that is spread by pruning with 'infected' shears/pruners. All those pruning multiple palms are urged to clean the instruments with bleach or something that kills the fungus. Fruit, twigs, or foliage cause significant litter, persistent at the base of the tree.

Uses: It is used in gardening and landscaping in many parts of the world though in sheltered areas it will survive short periods below freezing point. It is not suited to small gardens, due to its eventual large size, The huge bulk of Syagrus romanzoffiana dwarfs most houses. This palm is very good for adding a tropical feel and widely used along boulevards, on campuses, lawns and in parks and grouped in trios to form focal points in cityscapes. It is recommended for buffer strips around parking lots or for median strip plantings in the highway. Seedlings are quite slow, but speed up considerably once they start to trunk. Small specimens are inexpensive and readily available and look great in pots on the patio, near the pool, or in pairs flanking entryways. And thanks to its drought resistance and durability to heat it can thrive in harsh urban conditions. It is not a good indoor palm and gets "top heavy" as a container plant. According to AM Hurtado (1985) Ph. D. dissertation U of Utah its pith is a main starch source for the Ache of eastern Paraguay.

Pest and disease: Long-term health usually it is not affected by pests even if scale my be a problems. Ganoderma butt rot caused by Ganoderma applanatum (formerly Fomes applanatus) can kill Queen Palm. There is no control for butt rot, only prevention. This palm is not affected by lethal yellowing disease.

Propagation: It is exclusively propagated by seed. Seed is very easy to germinate, and small seedlings carpet the ground under mature specimens.

PFC for PP.png

Comments and Curiosities

This is a palm with an identity crisis! A few decades ago the queen palm was assigned the name Cocos plumosa. During the late sixties and seventies most experts began referring to it as Arecastrum romanzoffianum. Now this queen has been placed in the genus Syagrus, the species name became romanzoffiana - hopefully Syagrus romanzoffiana will stick! The Queen palm is mostly found in Subtropical areas. It was once very popular as a garden tree; but in areas like Southern California where the climate is considerably dryer, it has since been taken over by other palms, such as Archontophoenix cunninghamiana, and other Archontophoenix as well, it is still the dominate pinnate palm, in places like Central Florida, where it thrives on the humidity, and tolerates the occasional 25 degree F. nights. Its fruit is edible to wildlife, often being sought after by birds. It was originally classified in the Coconut or Cocos genus, was moved to Arecastrum, then Syagrus. As a result of this, they often retain a previous name in retail trade. Usually called the "Cocos plumosa palm".

With its stout trunk and elegant crown of plumose leaves, the Queen Palm is a common and familiar sight in streets, gardens and parks in milder climates around the world. Its ready availability, fast growth and subsequent low price make it a popular choice for growers to the exclusion of perhaps less common but more interesting contenders. Together with Phoenix and Washingtonia it is certainly the most-used street palm in the world. (

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos, edric.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos, edric.
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

Back to Palm Encyclopedia