Coccothrinax Sarg.
  • Bot. Gaz. 27: 87 (1899) 

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

General Description

Small to moderate, solitary or clustered, unarmed or partly armed, pleonanthic, hermaphroditic palms. Stem slender, at first covered with fibrous leaf sheaths, then with a regular fibrous network or masses of long slender fibres or stout spines, eventually becoming bare, and closely ringed with narrow leaf scars. Leaves induplicate, palmate, ascending to spreading, marcescent; sheath sometimes long persistent and disintegrating into a regular fibrous network or masses of long slender fibres, or becoming ± spiny, covered with dense, deciduous tomentum (?always); petiole long, slender, flat to ridged adaxially, rounded abaxially, densely tomentose or glabrous; hastula prominent adaxially, triangular to ± rounded, absent or a very narrow ridge abaxially; blade fan-shaped, irregularly folded when large, divided to about the middle into long, rather narrow, pointed segments, tips usually bifid, glabrous adaxially, silvery, punctate, with hairs or glabrous abaxially; midribs prominent, lateral ribs sometimes conspicuous, transverse veinlets evident or inconspicuous on one or both surfaces. Inflorescences shorter than the leaves, slender, branched to 2 orders; peduncle rather short, slender; prophyll tubular, 2-keeled, pointed, opening apically; peduncular bracts several, like the prophyll but lacking keels, closely sheathing and overlapping; rachis longer than the peduncle, slender, bearing spirally arranged, tubular, overlapping, pointed bracts subtending rachillae; rachillae rather short, slender, bearing very small, spirally arranged, thin, pointed bracts (?bracts appear to be borne on the floral stalk where seen), each subtending a flower. Flowers solitary, sessile(?) or usually pedicellate; perianth broadly and shallowly cup-shaped with several (5–9) short points; stamens 9 (6–13), filaments slender, flat, shortly connate basally, not inflexed at the apex, anthers oblong or sometimes sagittate, dorsifixed near the base, latrorse, apically acute to briefly bifid; gynoecium of 1 carpel, unilocular, uniovulate, globose basally, attenuate in a long style terminating in a cup-like, ± laterally compressed stigma, ovule basal, erect, nearly orthotropous. Pollen ellipsoidal, with slight to obvious asymmetry, aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, perforate, or perforate-rugulate, aperture margin similar; infratectum columellate; longest axis 31–44 µm [3/50]. Fruit globose, purplish-black at maturity, rarely pink or white, stigmatic remains apical; epicarp smooth or rough, mesocarp thin or somewhat fleshy with flat, slender, anastomosing fibres next to the membranous endocarp. Seed globose, attached basally, deeply grooved, hilum rounded, basal, endosperm homogeneous except for grooves; embryo apical or subapical. Germination remote-tubular; eophyll entire, very narrow. Cytology: 2n = 36.

Diagnostic Description

Small to moderate, solitary or clustering hermaphroditic fan palms occurring widely in the Caribbean, particularly diverse on Cuba; leaf sheaths very varied, fibrous, sometimes spectacularly so, or even spiny, petiole bases not split; fruit usually purplish black at maturity, rarely pink or white, the seed deeply grooved.


Leaf (Tomlinson 1961) for Coccothrinax barbadensis and C. argentea but identification questioned, roots (Seubert 1997), floral (Uhl and Moore 1977a), fruit (Murray 1973).


Restricted to limestone or serpentine rocks, usually in dry and often exposed highlands, sometimes in valleys and on coasts.


About 50 species occurring from Florida south to Colombia, mostly on islands of the West Indies, with the greatest diversity (about 34 species) in Cuba.


Used for thatch and for making brooms, also grown as ornamentals.

Common Names

Broom, silver, and thatch palms

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
  • Introduced distribution
Found in
  • Northern America Mexico Mexico Southeast
  • Southeastern U.S.A. Florida
  • Southern America Caribbean Bahamas
  • Cayman Is.
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Haiti
  • Jamaica
  • Leeward Is.
  • Puerto Rico
  • Southwest Caribbean
  • Trinidad-Tobago
  • Turks-Caicos Is.
  • Venezuelan Antilles
  • Windward Is.
  • Central America Belize
  • Northern South America Venezuela
  • Western South America Colombia
Introduced into
  • Pacific North-Central Pacific Hawaii

Included Species


  • 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.
  • 3 Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. Continental Publishing, Deurne.

 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.