ARECACEAE – Allagoptera – Allagoptera arenaria


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. Palmswere photographed primarily at Faichild Tropical Garden and the Montgomery  Botanical Center.


Allagoptera includes approximately 5 species of mostly clustering palms from Brazil and Paraguay. Leaves are pinnate. Male and female flowers are on the same plant. Allagoptera arenaria, native to sandy coastal scrub and beaches, is extremely salt tolerant. It gathers sand, building up dunes around the stem, and may be useful to slow erosion. The species name comes from arena, the Spanish word for sand. On firm ground, this palm attains moderate height. Inland species are not salt tolerant.

Allagoptera arenaria

Seashore palm

Synonym: cocos arenaria. Southerm coastal Brazil. Clustering palm, 6-15 ft, zones 10-11. Blooms intermittently in warm, wet months. Moderate moisture to fairly dry. Poor to average, sandy, well drained soil. Full sun. Flowers: unisexual, infructescence resembles an ear of corn. Leaves:pinnate, dull green, leaflets in clusters of 3, lax, sharp tipped, in whorls around the rachis. Stems: covered with spiraling, interlaced leaf bases. Palmate leaf in photo center belongs to neighboring Thrinax.

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