Pseudophoenix H.Wendl. ex Sarg.
  • Bot. Gaz. 11: 314 (1886) 

Notes: Distribution: S. Florida to Caribbean, SE. Mexico to Belize

General Description

Moderate, solitary, pleonanthic, polygamous or hermaphroditic palms. Stem erect, often swollen, prominently ringed with rather wide leaf scars, smooth to finely striate, grey or green, waxy. Leaves few, mostly ca. 10, reduplicately pinnate, deciduous by a basal abscision zone; sheath forming a short, somewhat swollen crownshaft, splitting distally opposite the petiole, waxy; petiole channelled adaxially, rounded abaxially; rachis flat to angled adaxially, rounded abaxially, ± glabrous; leaflets numerous, irregularly arranged, grouped and fanned within the groups, stiff, acute, single-fold, waxy on both surfaces, midribs evident, other veins small, transverse veinlets not evident. Inflorescences interfoliar, pendulous or arched, branched to the fifth order; peduncle elongate, dorsiventrally flattened; prophyll tubular, 2-keeled, flattened, leathery, persistent, opening at the apex; peduncular bracts 2, the first similar to the prophyll, the second usually collar-like; rachis longer than or about as long as the peduncle; rachillae stiffly spreading or pendulous, each subtended by a small open bract. Flowers borne singly, spirally arranged, each subtended by an acuminate bract, hermaphoditic proximally but the distal few staminate with a much reduced pistil, base of the flower extended in a pseudopedicel formed by fusion and elongation of the receptacle and the base of the calyx; calyx 3-lobed with rounded, apiculate tips; petals 3, valvate, thick, much longer than the calyx, basally connate in a very short tube; stamens 6, filaments thin, dilated and briefly connate in a ring basally, the apex lying in a groove in the abaxial surface of the anther to about the midpoint of the connective, then bent sharply inward, anthers large, elongate, ± pointed apically and basally, dorsifixed, latrorse; gynoecium conical, trilocular, tri-ovulate, with 3 glands at the base opposite the petals, stigmas sessile, very short, becoming recurved after fertilisation, ovules campylotropous, inserted on the adaxial side of the locule. Pollen ellipsoidal, usually more or less bi-symmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, foveolate or reticulate, aperture margin and proximal face similar, but lumina smaller; infratectum columellate; longest axis ranging from 43–55 µm [3/4]. Fruit 1–3-seeded, waxy red, globose or 2–3-lobed, stigmatic remains near the base or in a central depression in 3-seeded fruits; epicarp smooth, mesocarp fleshy, with raphides, lacking fibres, endocarp hard, brown, smooth. Seed not adherent to endocarp at maturity, hilum basal, raphe branches ascending and spreading in shallow grooves, endosperm homogeneous; embryo subbasal. Germination remote-tubular; eophyll narrow lanceolate. Cytology: 2n = 34.

Diagnostic Description

Relatively short stemmed pinnate-leaved Caribbean tree palms, often with bottle-like trunks; crownshaft present; flowers are hermaphroditic or occasionally unisexual towards the tips of the rachillae and the ovary with three locules and three ovules. The fruit is lobed when more than one seed develops.


Leaf and floral (Read 1968), and root (Seubert 1996b). The vascular system of the carpel, which consists of three major bundles with ventral bundles in ‘lateral’ positions and an ovular supply associated with ventral bundles only, resembles that of ceroxyloid and chamaedoreoid palms. The ground tissue of the gynoecium, which lacks tannins but has abundant raphides, is like that of Chamaedorea (Read 1968, Uhl and Moore 1971).


Pseudophoenix occurs on well-drained sand or porous limestone near the coast or inland on dry hills. The seeds are long-lived for palms, germinating after as much as two years in storage. Fruits become buoyant when dry and in P. sargentii may be adapted for dispersal by sea (Read 1968).


Four species from Florida, the Bahama Islands, Cuba, Hispaniola, and Dominica, to Mexico and Belize.


Leaves may be used for thatch, and the fruit of some species for animal feed. In the past, juice from the trunk of Pseudophoenix vinifera and P. ekmanii was used in making a fermented drink. All species are striking ornamentals.

Common Names

Cherry palm, buccaneer palm.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Northern America Mexico Mexico Southeast
  • Southeastern U.S.A. Florida
  • Southern America Caribbean Bahamas
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Haiti
  • Puerto Rico
  • Turks-Caicos Is.
  • Windward Is.
  • Central America Belize


  • 1 J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008
  • 2 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
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