Common Names: seashore palm, coco da praia
Family: Arecacea/Palmae (palm Family)
Palm Attracts Birds Edible Plant Has evergreen foliage Has Unusual
or Interesting Foliage
The seashore palm may be the palm family's answer to "pop art." The
leaves of the seashore palm emerge right out of the ground from a
subterranean trunk that is rarely visible, and grow in a swirling
pattern, spreading out on different and seemingly random planes.
There are 6-15 bright green to silvery green pinnately compound
(feather-like) leaves which range from 2-6 ft (0.6-1.8 m) long, with
each leaflet about 2 ft (0.6 m) long. The seashore palm is a small
palm, getting only about 6 ft (1.8 m) tall. The spiky flower stalks
have both male and female flowers, so one plant can produce seeds by
itself. The female flowers (and the fruits that follow) are borne in
distinct spirals, adding to the unique growth pattern of this
interesting palm. The fruits are yellowish green and shaped like
small coconuts, about 1 in (2.5 cm) long and a half inch in
The seashore palm is endemic to the Atlantic Coast of Brazil, where
it grows in coastal strand, just above the high tide mark. Seashore
palm is widely cultivated as an ornamental throughout South America.
In its native environment, the seashore palm is highly tolerant of
poor soils that have good drainage. Considered a slow grower when it
is young, the seashore palm responds very well to fertilizer and
Light: The seashore palm requires moderate to full sunlight.
Moisture: The seashore palm thrives in soils that are thoroughly
moist and have excellent drainage.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 - 11. Mature and established plants have
been reported by palm enthusiasts to tolerate temperatures down to
24ºF (-4.4ºC). A number of gardeners are now successfully growing
the seashore palm in USDA Zone 9. Seashore palms grown in Zone 9 may
require protection during cold spells.
Propagation: By seeds. The optimal germination conditions for
seashore palm seeds include prolonged exposure to high temperatures
from 90-100ºF (32-37.8ºC) and high humidity. Keep the seed moist at
The seashore palm is undoubtedly one of the best palms for beach and
coastal situations in subtropical and tropical settings. The
seashore palm may be used as a beach screen and is very tolerant of
extreme coastal and beach exposure, and salt spray. Seashore palm
can be planted just above the high tide mark.
The seashore palm is cultivated extensively in South America for the
edible fruits which are eaten fresh or made into a drink. The leaves
are used to make baskets and other woven objects.
The generic name of the seashore palm, Allogoptera, comes from
the Greek words allage, meaning change, and pteron, meaning wing,
and refers to the swirled, changing pattern of the feathery leaves.
The species name, arenaria comes from the Latin, for sandy or
growing in sandy sites.