Common Names: Cuban Wax Palm, Guano Palm, Cano Palm, Guano Espinoso
Family: Arecacea/Palmae (palm Family)
Palm Attracts Birds Drought Tolerant Has Ornamental (non-edible)
Fruit Has evergreen foliage Has Unusual or Interesting Foliage
Cuban wax palm
The Cuban wax palm is a great small palm for dry sunny hot spots.
The Cuban wax palm is a handsome ornamental palm of moderate
dimensions. The circular gray waxy leaves of the Cuban wax palm
spread out like fans on long, thin stems (petioles). Up to 40 leaves
form a very characteristic circular outline around the top of the
trunk. The smooth columnar trunk can grow up to 1 ft (0.3 m) in
diameter and up to 26 ft (7.9 m) tall. Dainty brown flowers extend
past the leaves on uniquely hairy branches. The flowers are
bisexual, so one Cuban wax palm may produce seeds by itself! The
fruits resemble black marbles, up to 1 in (2.5 m) across.
The Cuban wax palm occurs throughout Cuba in the country's open
savannas, woodlands and in coastal regions, adjacent to mangrove
Light: The Cuban wax palm thrives in full sun.
Moisture: The Cuban Wax Palm is highly tolerant of drought, but
thrives in moist soil with excellent drainage.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 - 11. Mature and established plants can
tolerate temperatures down to 26ºF (-3.3ºC)
Propagation: By seeds which germinate in 4 to 12 weeks.
The Cuban wax palm belongs to the genus of palms considered by many
to be the most spectacular of American palms. In profile, the Cuban
wax palm is quite striking, with the outline of the leaves forming a
great circular arc around the top of the trunk. This palm is
considered quite a prize outside of Cuba and is now available from
some nurseries and palm seed providers. The Cuban wax palm thrives
in full sun locations in tropical settings, like southern Florida.
In its native Cuba, the hard and durable stems of the Cuban wax
palm are used extensively for fence posts and its leaves are woven
into hats, panniers (load-carriers) and baskets.
This genus of plants was named after the astronomer Nicolaus
Copernicus (1473-1543). The specific part of the name, hospita, is
from the Latin, meaning hospitable, believed to refer to the palm
being a hospitable, welcome home to a wide variety of birds.
The Cuban wax palm has a close cousin, the carnauba wax palm (Copernicia
prunifera) from South America from whose waxy leaf coating is
obtained the carnauba wax used to make automobiles shiny.
The Cuban wax palm is somewhat spiny, so caution is advised when
handling. It is advised not to plant this palm close to walkways.