Pseudophoenix sargentii

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Pseudophoenix (soo-doh-FEH-niks)
sargentii (sahr-jent'-ee)
Pseudophoenix sargentii flowers.jpg
Cuba. Photo by Paul Craft.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Pseudophoenix (soo-doh-FEH-niks)
sargentii (sahr-jent'-ee)
(Old Name): Pseudophoenix saonae
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Height: 10-25 feet tall
Survivability index
Common names
Buccaneer palm, Sargent’s cherry palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Pseudophoenix sergeantii is found in the Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominican
Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Gardens, Thailand. Photo by Paul Craft.
Republic, Florida, Haiti, Mexico Southeast, Puerto Rico, Turks-Caicos Islands, and the Windward Islands. Pseudophoenix sargentii is found in coastal habitats, although one site in southern Quintana Roo, Mexico, is more than 30 km inland (where the palm population is thought to represent relic populations along an ancient coastline) (Quero 1981). It occurs on limestone or dune sand over limestone in seasonally dry forest, tropical hammock, coastal scrub, etc. (Seifriz 1943, Ledin et al. 1959, Read 1968, Quero 1981). Under harsh conditions, it grows very slowly such that mature individuals have trunks less than 50 cm tall. It grows easily but slowly in cultivation, a situation which has contributed to the destructive practice transplanting wild specimens to gardens and landscapes. (S. Zona. 2002)/Palmweb.

Pseudophoenix occurs on well drained sand, or porous limestone, near the coast or inland on dry hills. A FLORIDA NATIVE: First discovered in USA in 1886 on Elliot Key, an island 10mi from Miami, FL... Soon thereafter found on Sands Key, and Long Key as well...


Solitary; 10-25 feet tall; trunk 6-12 inches wide, canopy 8-12 feet wide, crown holds 8-12 fronds, Leaves are greenish-blue above and silvery below, with erect leaflets distributed in different planes. Pseudophoenix sargentii var. navasana, which originates from the Navassa Island (Coastal Haiti), can be differentiated by the leaflets, white above and silvery below, Leaf Size: 4-9 feet long; leaflets 2 feet long, 2 inches wide, fruit globular, red fruits up to 1.7 cm in diameter. editing by edric.

Stems: Solitary, erect to 8 m tall and 30 cm in diameter, bulging slightly at variable points; young stems are gray-green, turning gray with age; ring scars are prominent, raised, and brown. Leaves: Pinnate, reduplicate, with a twisting rachis, to 3 m long, with linear, blue-green leaflets irregularly arranged in groups of three to five, at divergent angles, held in a more or less plumose, V-shape. The somewhat open, short, stout crown shaft is formed from waxy, gray-green or blue-green leaf sheaths. The leaflets have brown scales below, acute tips and obvious secondary veins. There are no spines. Flowers and fruit: Inflorescences maybe erect or arching, to 1 m long, and branched to five orders. Bisexual flowers are produced at the base of the inflorescence, with staminate flowers toward the tips; both are yellow in color. Fruits are 1-2 cm, spherical to ovoid or three-lobed, and scarlet red when ripe, with remnant sepals at the base. (


Growth Rate: Slow, Salt Tolerance: High, Light Requirements: Moderate to high, Drought Tolerance: High, once established, Soil: Widely adaptable, Nutritional Requirements: Low, Propagation: Seeds

Prefers lightly shaded, moist, but well drained position, preferably on alkaline soils. Very salt water tolerant. Extremely slow growing. The seeds are long lived for palms, germinating after as much as two years in storage. Fruits become buoyant when dry and may be dispersed by sea. U.S.D.A. Zone: 9b+. (28°F Minimum).

PFC for PP.png

Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: The specific epithet honors; Charles S. Sargent, the first collector of the type.

"Popular with south Florida folks because they are native and unique."

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. 2002. A Revision of Pseudophoenix. Palms 46 (1) 19-38.

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

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