Description Dictosperma album has two common names - princess palm due to its graceful appearance and hurrican palm because of its ability to withstand strong hurricane force winds. Princess palm grows to a height of 30 feet on a single grey-ringed trunk. The graceful pinnate leaves are 8-12 feet long and the leaflets are 3 feet long. When young, the tops of the fronds twist and droop because of the flexible midrib which gives a curving appearance to the leaves. One distinctive characteristic that is used to distinguish this palm from Archontophoenix palms, is the pronounced erect young spear leaves which look like long swords. The crownshaft is also distinctive as it is light green, white or red and covered in gray to brown scales. The inflorescence appears below the crownshaft in a large branching cluster. The flowers are yellow to red and the fruits are bullet shaped and purple or black in color.
The cultivar, 'Album' has green petioles with distinct veins. 'Aureum' has a prominent yellow stripe on the underside of the leaflets and the veins are not distinct. 'Conjugatum' is a shorter palm with a larger trunk and has leaf tips that hang with long reins. Other cultivars are 'Rubrum' and 'Furfuraceum'.
The princess palm is native to the Mascarene Islands where unfortunately it is almost extinct. This palm is a popular landscape item that is grown throughout the tropics.
Although the princess or hurricane palm can be tough and withstand strong hurricane winds, it is not drought tolerant and requires high humidity - doing best in warm, coastal areas. Light: Best in bright sunny situations. Moisture: Hurricane palm likes lots of water. Hardiness: USDA Zones 10B - 11. Does not tolerate frosts. Propagation: Propagate from seed, which germinates in 2-4 months.
The hurricane palm is obviously a useful palm for hurricane-prone areas near the coast. It also makes a very graceful looking specimen or accent tree and even may be used indoors when young.
Princess palm is the only species in the genus.
Copyright 1996 - 2012
Tallahassee, Florida USA