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A Floridata Plant Profile #755 Attalea cohune
Common Names: Cohune palm, rain tree, American oil palm, corozo palm, manaca palm
Family: Arecacea/Palmae (palm Family)
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Palm  Attracts Birds Edible Plant Has evergreen foliage Flowers

cohune palm
This mature cohune palm grows at Miami's Fairchild Tropical Garden.
Description
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.

Location
Cohune palm occurs naturally in Central American tropical rainforests in Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and coastal southern Mexico.

Culture
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 outdoor palm.
Moisture: The cohune palm grows well in moist, sandy soils with good drainage.
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.

Young cohune palms make a majestic sight even before the trunk is formed.
Usage
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 powerlines with low clearances. The cohune palm can grow to 90 feet tall.

Features
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 landscape.

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, soapmaking 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.

Chuck McLendon 7/28/00




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