Zombia L.H.Bailey
  • Gentes Herb. 4: 240 (1939) 

Notes: Distribution: Hispaniola

General Description

Moderate, clustering, spiny, pleonanthic, hermaphroditic palm. Stem erect, slender, covered with persistent, overlapping spiny sheaths, few erect spine-like pneumatophores emerging from the ground near the stem base. Leaves induplicate, palmate, marcescent; sheath expanding into a regular network of fibres, distal fibres reflexed, forming a partial whorl of spines; petiole very slender, elongate, unarmed, semicircular in cross-section; adaxial hastula 3-lobed, center lobe pointed, lateral lobes rounded becoming irregularly tattered, abaxial hastula also pointed with very shallow lateral ridges; blade irregularly divided along the adaxial folds 1/2 – 2/3 to the base into single-fold, lanceolate, rather thin, shortly bifid segments, shiny dark green above, whitish beneath, caducous indumentum along ribs on both surfaces, midrib prominent abaxially, interfold ribs prominent adaxially, transverse veinlets scarcely discernible. Inflorescences interfoliar, shorter than the leaves, branched to 2 orders; peduncle short; prophyll partly included in the subtending the leaf sheath, tubular, 2-keeled, opening and ± 2-lobed distally, longitudinally striate; peduncular bracts lacking; rachis longer than the peduncle, densely tomentose; rachis bracts tubular, longitudinally striate, sparsely tomentose, each with a short pointed lobe, sometimes with short apical splits; first-order branches distant, each bearing a basal, tubular, 2-keeled, 2-lobed, longitudinally striate, sparsely tomentose prophyll; rachillae (second-order branches) sparse, short, spreading, proximal 2 ± subopposite, subtended by narrow bracts, distal rachillae subopposite or alternate, subtending bracts minute, inconspicuous, rachillae slender, glabrous, minutely papillose, bearing rather distant, solitary, subdistichous flowers each subtended by a minute triangular bract. Flowers cream-coloured; perianth shallow, cup-shaped with 6 short, membranous points; stamens 9–12, the filaments short, variable, slender, anthers basifixed, erect, elongate, latrorse; gynoecium obpyriform, unicarpellate, tapered to a large, laterally compressed, cup-like stigma, ovule basal, orthotropous. Pollen ellipsoidal, slight to obvious asymmetry; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, perforate, aperture margin ± psilate; infratectum columellate; longest axis 30–38 µm [1/1]. Fruit falling with the perianth attached and stamen bases often obvious, oblong-globose, white, fleshy, large, with apical stigmatic remains; epicarp smooth except for the stigmatic remains, mesocarp fleshy without obvious fibres, endocarp crustaceous. Seed basally attached, very deeply bilobed, the lobes again divided irregularly in a bilobed fashion, the 2 halves connected by a portion in which the embryo lies centrally, endosperm homogeneous within the lobes. Germination and eophyll not recorded. Cytology: 2n = 36.

Diagnostic Description

Distinctive clustering hermaphroditic fan palm of Hispaniola, with close erect stems almost completely obscured by spines formed from the fibres of the expanded leaf sheaths; petiole base not split; fruit white, the seed deeply bilobed, each lobe further lobed.


Leaf (Tomlinson 1961), roots (Seubert 1997),floral (Morrow 1965, Moore and Uhl 1973).


Open and bushy slopes of very dry hills.


One species in Hispaniola.


A striking ornamental. Fruit are said to be fed to hogs.

Common Names

Zombi palm.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Southern America Caribbean Dominican Republic
  • Haiti


  • 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 http://www.palmweb.org. Accessed on 21/04/2013
  • A Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
  • B http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from http://e-monocot.org.
  • 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; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/ Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • D See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm 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.