ARECACEAE – Acoelorrhaphe, Acoelorrhaphe wrightii


Palm family

Acecaceae includes approximately 2oo genera of evergreen solitary or clustering trees or stemless shrubs, rarely climbers, from tropcical and mild temperate  regions. The architecture of palms is elegant and diverse. Though unfamiliar to many, inflorescencess and fruit are often highly ornamental. Leaves are compound, some with pinnate leaflets arranged  along a midrib  and sometimes with an elongated petiole base that sheathes the top of the trunk. Other palms have palmately compound leaves, with the leaflets spreading fanlike and radiating from a disklike structure at the end of the petiole. Costapalmate leaves are also fan – shaped but somewhat folded lengthwise, the sides arching, with the bases congested on a short rachis. Fishtail palms are the only bipinnately leafed palms, with a branched rachis and wedge – shaped leaflets. Palm leaflets may be partially fused along their edgess or completely free, juvenile leaflets are  often more fused than adults. Flowers are small. in many – flowered panicles. The inflorescence is subtended by a spathelike bract.

The apical meristem at the apex of the trunk or stalk is the only growing point. It cannot be cut bacck without   killing the individual stem, making it very important to select palms of appropriate mature height. Palms are susceptible to a variety of diseases and pests. Lethal yellowing disease has devasstated sussceptible species where it occurs. Palms often develop nutritional deficiencies in alkaline soils and need supplemental micronutrients. Photos of the trunks and leaf scar patterns are provided here because they are often ornamental and excellent field marks that are easily observed at eye level. Palms were photographed primarily at Faichild Tropical Garden and the Montgomery  Botanical Center..


Acoelorrhaphe includes a single species of densely  clustering palm from the western Caribbean, Belize, Cuba, the Bahamas, and South Florida. Adapted to marshy, brackish conditions, this palm can be cultivated in upland areas with adequate irrigation. leaves are fan – shaped, the side leaflets shorter than those in the center. They are held stiffly, often so congested that some are turned on edge. Petiole margins are lined with hooked teeth. Old leaf stalks should not be added to mulch as the persistent teeth can snag long after they dry. Natural  stands are characteristic of the southern marshes of Everglades National Park in Florida. In some countries, once vast stands have been cleared  for farming. In alkaline soils, these palms require added prganics and micronutrients.

Acoelorrhaphe wrightii

Everglades palm, paurotis – palm

Synonyms: Copernicia wrightii, Paurotis wrightii,  Serenoa arborescens. South Florida, Bahamas, Cuba, Yucatan to Central America. Clustering palm, 25-35 ft, zones 9-11. Blooms intermittently in warm,, wet months. Seasonally moist to wet, or brackish. Deep, humus – rich soil. acid pH. Full sun. Flowers: bisexual. inflorescence stalk erect, 3-4 ft. long,, becoming pendent with weight of orange to black fruit, bracts 3, papery. leaves: palmate, gray – green below,    persistent, leaflet tips free halfway to the petiole, petiole armed with sharp, hooked teeth, base not divided. Distinguished by the very dense clumps and congested, disorderly arrangement of the fan – shaped leaves.

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