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Last Update 05/22/11
Cuban Old Man Palm, Coccothrinax crinita

Coccothrinax crinita is also known as Cuban Old Man Palm, Thatch Palm, Guano Barbudo, Guano Petate, and Palma Petate. This is a very slow growing palm from Tropical Cuba that matures to a canopy about 7’ wide and a trunk to 30’ tall (in the most favorable growing conditions).

This palm requires up to 10 years to grow to 5’. The trunk is slim, about 8” in diameter, but appears larger because of the thick “hair” covering it. The Old Man Palm’s trunk is reminiscent of an old man’s beard, hence the name Old Man Palm.

Old Man Palm, click to enlarge.


15 to 25 fan-like, stiff, spirally arranged, deeply divided, 4-5’ in diameter fronds grow directly from the trunk -- the plant has no crown shaft – on short 2’ long unarmed petioles. Fronds are divided into segments with drooping blades, 30” long, shiny green above and dull gray beneath.

Old Man Palm "beard" close-up, click to enlarge.

Cuban Old Man Palm will grow in full to partial sun. This palm is great to plant along the seashore as it is very drought and salt tolerant once established. It likes moist well drained soil. Old Man Palm is frequently planted as an ornamental and is cold tolerant to 25-32 degrees F.


Young Cuban Old Man Palm showing portion of unbearded trunk, click to enlarge.

In summer Old Man Palm produces yellow flowers that grow on 5’ long stalks that grow among the palm’s fronds extending further than the fronds’ length. Flowers are bisexual, both male and female reproductive organs are born on the same plant. Flowers are followed by dark purple fruit that are round, fleshy, and 1” in diameter.

Old Man Palm is a very rare palm, and tends to be rather expensive for it. Old Man palm is grown from seed and germinates best in vitro in gelatin, agar or similar mediums.

Source: Flora: A Gardener's Encyclopedia 2 volume set , vol 1 A-K vol 2 L-Z




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