Royal Palm

20 Oct

Native to Cuba and Florida, the grace and beauty of the Royal Palm tree (Roystonea oleraceamakes it a popular landscape specimen and boulevard lineup.

It has a single smooth concrete-like gray trunk. Dark green arching fronds emerge from a bright green crown. Pinnate, or feather-like, fronds grow up to 6-10ft long with evergreen leaf-blades reaching 18 to 36 inches. The fronds fall off by themselves without any trimming needed, but these are large fronds that you might not want dropping onto a car below. Growth rate is moderate of around a foot each year, rising up to 60 – 70ft tall and 5 -10 ft wide.

Fragrant, yellow flowers bloom in the summer atop a crown shaft that is long and green. Purple to black half-inch fruits are showy but not edible.

The Florida and Cuban Royal can tolerate cold weather down to 30F for a short periods although it is not cold-hardy and needs to be protected from frost and cold snaps. It grows best above 40F in partial shade to full sun with lots of water but is moderately drought tolerant. This makes it a good tree even in a place with watering restrictions.

They not only tolerate, but seem to thrive in the poor soil and drainage of urban environments where other trees tend to do poorly. Soil can be well-drained clay, sand or loam; it doesn’t seem to be very picky in this regard. The Royal palm prefers acidic to slightly alkaline soil, but with too much alkalinity the fronds tend to frizzle.


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