Common Names: Cohune palm, rain tree, American oil palm, corozo
palm, manaca palm
Family: Arecacea/Palmae (palm Family)
Palm Attracts Birds Edible Plant Has evergreen foliage Flowers
The cohune palm is one of nature's most majestic trees, with fronds
that seem to erupt right out of the ground like a volcano! Juvenile
cohune palms (and some varieties) grow with their trunk underground
for many years. The adult tree has a characteristic and massive
crown of dark green, pinnate (feather-shaped) leaves extending
almost straight up. Each leaf can be up to 33 ft (10 m) long. The
leaves crown a solitary trunk that grows 20-50 ft (6.1-15 m) tall
and 1-2 ft (0.3-0.6 m) in diameter. The leaflets composing the
compound leaves are regularly arranged and spread out in the same
plane as the leaf. The leaflets appear to rain down from the leaves,
thus earning the common name of rain tree. Cohune palms produce
flower clusters up to 5 ft (1.5 m) long, cloistered among the
leaves. They may have all male, all female, or both kinds on the
same tree. The cream colored flowers yield to brownish yellow
fruits, oval-elliptical in shape, 1-3 in (2.5-7.6 cm) long and 1-2
in (2.5-5 cm) in diameter. The fruits are carried on long drooping
stalks (peduncles) from November through February.
Cohune palm occurs naturally in Central American tropical
rainforests in Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica,
and coastal southern Mexico.
The cohune palm grows best in a sheltered warm spot in a subtropical
setting, or in hot and humid tropical environments. Cohune palm is a
slow grower until its trunk emerges above ground, and then more
rapid growth occurs. Established cohune palms are considered gross
feeders and respond very well to the use of palm and nitrogenous
fertilizer. The growth rate of the cohune palm can be increased
significantly with regular fertilizer applications. Cohune palm is
considered very disease and pest resistant.
Light: The cohune palm grows well in full sun. Even small, young
cohune palms can tolerate full sun. Cohune palm is considered an
Moisture: The cohune palm grows well in moist, sandy soils with good
Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 12. The cohune palm is believed to be the
hardiest palm in the genus Attalea. Juvenile palms are uniquely
protected from frosts, because the trunk remains underground for
many years. Mature and established plants have been reported to
tolerate temperatures down to 23ºF (-5 ºC), losing 10%-100% of their
foliage but recovering during warmer months. Cohune palms have not
recovered after being subjected to temperatures of 22 ºF (-5.6 ºC)
for extended time periods.
Propagation: The cohune palm propagates by seeds. Each cohune fruit
may contain 1-3 seeds.
The cohune palm is one of nature's largest and most majestic palms.
This giant palm is perfect for tropical or subtropical climates, in
a large yard, Mediterranean style mansion, or along boulevards or
driveways. It is very well suited for plantings on campuses, parks
and public gardens. Even young trees may be planted in areas
receiving full sun and cohunes are very resistant to wind damage.
This palm should not be considered an understory to small structures
or power lines with low clearances. The cohune palm can grow to 90
The adult cohune palm is considered one of nature's most majestic
and dramatic palms and thus is quite popular with collectors. Cohune
palms make a dramatic statement in areas containing large open
space. Use the giant cohune palm for that dramatic accent in a large
The cohune palm is a valuable source of oil and was one of the
most important trees in the Mayan culture. The seeds of the cohune
palm yield cohune oil which is used extensively as a lubricant, for
cooking, soap making and lamp oil. The heart of the cohune palm,
located in the last four feet of the trunk before the base of the
leaf stems, is considered a delicacy. The fruits of the cohune palm
are made into sweet meats and are also used as livestock feed.
Cohune leaves are used as thatching material for roofs. Palm wine is
produced from the sap of the heart of the cohune.
The genus Attalea was named after an ancient Middle Eastern king,
Attalus III Philometor, who was very interested in medicinal plants.
The species name, cohune, is the aboriginal name for this palm.