Leucothrinax C.Lewis & Zona
  • Palms (1999+) 52: 87 (2008) 

Notes: Distribution: Florida Keys to Caribbean

General Description

Small to moderate, solitary, unarmed, pleonanthic, hermaphroditic palm. Stem erect, columnar, smooth, grey, obscurely ringed with leaf scars, usually with a basal mass of fibrous roots. Leaves induplicate, palmate; sheath becoming split both opposite the petiole and abaxially to emit the inflorescence, disintegrating into a network of irregular fibres, covered in thick, deciduous tomentum, margins fibrous; petiole long, slender, rounded to shallowly ridged both adaxially and abaxially, densely covered with caduceus white indumentum, margins rather sharp; adaxial hastula prominent, rounded to triangular, densely covered in caducous hairs, abaxial hastula very short, apically membranous and disintegrating; blade fan-shaped, with irregularly folded segments, not held in the same plane, split apically to ca. 1/2 their length or more into lanceolate, pointed and usually bifid segments, glabrous adaxially, abaxially covered in white wax and bearing minute punctiform scales, midrib and marginal ribs conspicuous, transverse veinlets evident. Inflorescences interfoliar, slender, erect to arching, equalling or exceeding the leaves, branched to 2 orders, primary branches pendulous; peduncle moderate, rather slender, round in cross-section; prophyll short, tubular, 2-keeled, pointed, opening distally, tomentose; peduncular bracts several (ca. 3), like the prophyll but lacking keels, overlapping and very closely sheathing the peduncle; rachis longer than the peduncle, slender, tapering, bearing spirally arranged, long, tubular, pointed distally and obliquely open primary bracts subtending first-order branches; first-order branches each with a short to long basal bare portion, bearing a 2-keeled, bifid prophyll and spirally arranged, narrow, triangular bracts subtending rachillae; rachillae slender, rather short, stiff, bearing spirally arranged, small triangular bracts subtending solitary flowers, bracteoles apparently lacking. Flowers ± sessile; perianth a single cupule with 6 lobes or teeth; stamens mostly 6, filaments basally broadly connate in a ring equalling the perianth, free portion very slender, anthers elongate, dorsifixed near the base, emarginate apically, latrorse; gynoecium consisting of 1 carpel, unilocular, uniovulate, ovule basally attached, erect, campylotropous but tilted so that the micropyle faces the upper dorsal wall of the locule, and with a basal aril. Pollen ellipsoidal with slight to obvious asymmetry; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, finely perforate, aperture margin similar; infratectum columellate; longest axis 21–31 µm [1/1]. Fruit very small, white at maturity, stigmatic remains apical, perianth persistent; epicarp smooth when fresh, mesocarp thin, endocarp very thin, papery. Seed depressed-globose, smooth, hilum round, impressed, forming a basal intrusion, raphe branches scarcely impressed, endosperm homogeneous; embryo subapical. Germination remote-tubular; eophyll narrow, lanceolate. Cytology: 2n = 36.

Diagnostic Description

Small to moderate, solitary hermaphroditic fan palms endemic to the northern Caribbean; leaf sheaths fibrous, petiole bases deeply split at base; flowers and fruit sessile; fruit very small, white, the seed smooth.


Leaf anatomy (Read 1975); floral anatomy (Morrow 1965, Uhl and Moore 1971); correlations of floral anatomy and wind pollination suggested by Uhl and Moore (1977a).


Occurring on coralline sands and limestone near the sea.


A single species occurring in the northern part of the Caribbean as far east as the Virgin Islands and Anguilla.


Leaves are used for making brooms. Widely cultivated in Florida.

Common Names

Brittle thatch, Keys thatch palm

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Northern America Southeastern U.S.A. Florida
  • Southern America Caribbean Bahamas
  • Cuba
  • Haiti
  • Leeward Is.
  • Puerto Rico
  • Turks-Caicos Is.


  • 1 Dransfield, J., Uhl, N.W., Asmussen, C.B., Baker, W.J., Harley. M.M. & Lewis, C.E. (2008). Genera Palmarum; The evolution and classification of Palms: 1-732. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 2 J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008

 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.