Prestoea Hook.f.
  • G.Bentham & J.D.Hooker, Gen. Pl. 3: 899 (1883) 

Notes: , nom. cons. Distribution: Trop. America

General Description

Small to moderate, rarely solitary, usually clustered, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious tree palms. Stem slender or relatively stout, erect or decumbent, brown or grey, sometimes swollen basally, leaf scars prominent or obscure, adventitious roots present or absent. Leaves regularly or irregularly pinnate, or undivided, curving or erect; sheath tubular, splitting opposite the petiole, usually not forming a distinct crownshaft, but crownshaft sometimes evident in Prestoea acuminata, often scaly or tomentose, becoming glabrous; petiole usually elongate, rarely short, often slender, channelled adaxially, rounded abaxially, both surfaces densely dark tomentose or scaly, rachis channelled at the base, flat to ridged adaxially, rounded abaxially, densely tomentose (?always); leaflets long, narrow, opposite or subopposite, regularly arranged in one plane, shorter basally and distally, sometimes curved, tips pointed, edges often thickened, single-fold or several-fold distally or in partly entire leaves, midribs of folds prominent adaxially, other veins small, ± equal or 1–2 pairs slightly larger, blade adaxially ± glabrous, abaxially lightly tomentose, whitish dot-like hairs usually abundant, large to small tattered scales along the midrib and sometimes along larger veins, often waxy, transverse veinlets not evident. Inflorescences usually interfoliar in bud, becoming infrafoliar at anthesis or in fruit, branched to 1 order or rarely spicate; peduncle short or more usually elongate, longer than the rachis; prophyll usually persistent, markedly shorter than the peduncular bract, tubular, 2-keeled laterally, ± flat, splitting apically and dorsi-ventrally so as sometimes to appear bifid, inserted at the base of the peduncle, chartaceous to coriaceous, variously scaly; peduncular bract usually persistent, several times longer than the prophyll, terete, with a long hard beak, usually inserted some distance above the prophyll, chartaceous or coriaceous; rachis bearing spirally arranged, short, thin, membranous or stiff, rounded or pointed bracts, each subtending a rachilla; rachillae white at anthesis, usually becoming reddish in fruit, slender, moderate to elongate, erect at first, becoming divaricate or stiffly ascending, sometimes markedly swollen or bulbous basally, rachis and rachillae densely covered with soft pale hairs or with dark red or brown tomentum or glabrous; rachilla bracts very shallow, membranous, subtending triads of flowers basally and paired to solitary staminate flowers distally, flowers superficial or in a slight depression, triads with the staminate flowers only slightly larger than and lateral to the pistillate, rarely (Prestoea longepetiolata var. cuatrecasasii) the pistillate flower surrounded by 2 large bracteoles. Staminate flowers symmetrical or asymmetrical, ovoid, stalked or sessile; sepals 3, distinct and shortly imbricate basally or united in a low cupule, margins smooth or hairy with tufts of hairs at the tips, usually keeled to some extent; petals 3, ovate, distinct, valvate, tips valvate or appressed, margins smooth or hairy with tufts of hairs at the tips; stamens 6, filaments terete, briefly inflexed at the apex, anthers linear, acute or bifid apically, sagittate or free basally, dorsifixed slightly below the middle, latrorse; pistillode columnar or trifid, light or dark. Pollen ellipsoidal, with slight or obvious asymmetry; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, finely perforate, or perforate-rugulate, aperture margin similar or slightly finer; infratectum columellate; longest axis 26–46 µm [7/10]. Pistillate flowers broadly ovoid; sepals 3, distinct, imbricate, rounded, margins smooth or hairy; petals 3, distinct, broadly imbricate, rounded, tips valvate; staminodes 6, small, tooth-like; gynoecium ovoid, asymmetrical, unilocular, uniovulate, style not evident, stigmas 3, appressed or reflexed, ovule large, basal, form unknown. Fruit rounded, dark purple to black at maturity (?always), perianth persistent, stigmatic remains subapical or near the middle; epicarp smooth or slightly irregular, mesocarp fleshy, with an inner layer of wide flat fibres, endocarp thin, crustaceous. Seed globose, laterally attached, hilum elongate, raphe branches numerous, anastomosing to form a network, endosperm ruminate or rarely (P. longepetiolata var. cuatrecasasii) homogeneous; embryo subbasal. Germination adjacent-ligular; eophyll bifid (e.g., P. acuminata) or pinnate (e.g., P. decurrens). Cytology: 2n = 36.

Diagnostic Description

Small or moderate pinnate-leaved palms from Central and South America and the Caribbean, with rather coarse leaflets, rarely the leaf undivided; rachillae are generally brightly coloured.


Stems, leaves and roots (Henderson and Galeano1996), and root (Seubert 1998a, 1998b).


Mostly on well-drained slopes at moderate to rather high elevations.


Ten species distributed throughout the West Indies, from Nicaragua southward in Central America, and into Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. One taxon (Prestoea acuminata var. montana) is widespread in the Lesser Antilles.


The ‘cabbage’ is edible (Hodge 1965),and some species are desirable ornamentals.

Common Names

Mountain cabbage palm (Prestoeaacuminata var. montana).

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Southern America Brazil Brazil North
  • Caribbean Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Haiti
  • Leeward Is.
  • Puerto Rico
  • Trinidad-Tobago
  • Windward Is.
  • Central America Costa Rica
  • Nicaragua
  • Panamá
  • Northern South America Guyana
  • Venezuela
  • Western South America Bolivia
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru


  • 1 J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008
  • 2 Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2005). Monocotyledons and Gymnosperms of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 52: 1-415.
  • 3 Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

 Information From

Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet Accessed on 21/04/2013
  • A Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
  • B
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from
  • C Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • D See You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement.