Dwarf, moderate or tall, usually robust, solitary, acaulescent or erect, unarmed, pleonanthic, hermaphroditic palms. Stem often descending shortly and recurved, covered with leaf bases, rough, striate, and obscurely ringed, or becoming ± smooth, grey, and bare with age. Leaves induplicate, marcescent, shortly to prominently costapalmate; sheath later with a conspicuous cleft below the petiole, margins fibrous; petiole often very long, channelled adaxially, rounded abaxially, sometimes bearing caducous indumentum; adaxial hastula short and truncate, or usually elongate and acute or acuminate, margins sharp, abaxial hastula sometimes distinguishable as a low ridge; blade flat to mostly arched, divided along the central abaxial fold to the middle or nearly to the costa, further divided along adaxial folds into drooping linear, ± even, rarely uneven, single-fold segments, briefly to rather deeply bifid, sometimes filiferous, segments with midribs prominent abaxially, interfold filaments sometimes present, glaucous or not, sometimes paler beneath, often with caducous indumentum along the major ribs, midribs prominent, transverse veinlets obscure or conspicuous. Inflorescence shorter, as long as or longer than the leaves, interfoliar, branching to 4 orders; prophyll short, 2-keeled, 2-lobed; peduncular bracts several, tubular below with a conspicuous, short to long and narrow tip, variously caducously tomentose; rachis equalling or longer than the peduncle; rachis bracts like peduncular bracts, decreasing in size distally; bracts of the second and third order well developed, tubular, decreasing in size distally; prophylls present on most branches; rachillae slender, with spirally arranged bracts, each subtending a low spur branch bearing a solitary flower. Flowers symmetrical; calyx somewhat thickened at the base, tubular, shallowly 3-lobed, often prominently nerved when dried; corolla tubular below, lobes elliptic, slightly imbricate in bud, spreading to suberect with incurved membranous margins at anthesis, becoming strongly inrolled when dry; stamens 6, the filaments rather fleshy, flattened, united in a tube about as high as the calyx, adnate up to the mouth of the corolla tube, then distinct and awl-shaped, not inflexed at the apex, anthers erect in bud, dorsifixed, ± versatile or erect, narrowly elliptic, latrorse; carpels 3, completely connate, ovarian part trilobed and only slightly broader than the elongate 3-grooved style, stigma capitate, trilobed, papillose, ovule basal, anatropous. Pollen ellipsoidal, slightly asymmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, finely to coarsely perforate, or perforate and micro-channelled, aperture margin similar or slightly finer; infratectum columellate; longest axis 33–50 µm; post-meiotic tetrads usually tetrahedral, sometimes tetragonal or, rarely, rhomboidal [8/16]. Fruit usually developing from 1 carpel, sometimes from 2 or 3, globose to pyriform, stigmatic scar and abortive carpels basal; epicarp smooth, mesocarp fleshy without fibres, endocarp thin, membranous. Seed free from endocarp, shining brown, depressed-globose, usually concave below when dry, raphe and hilum basal, endosperm homogeneous with a shallow intrusion of seed coat; embryo lateral or subdorsal. Germination remote-ligular; eophyll entire, elongate. Cytology: 2n = 36.
Single-stemmed fan palms of the Caribbean and neighbouring mainland of Central and North America, usually with conspicuously costapalmate leaves with unarmed petioles that have a triangular cleft at the base. The highly branched inflorescences bear solitary hermaphroditic flowers and usually rather small blackish fruit.