Roystonea oleracea, a royal palm native to islands in the Caribbean and the northern coast of South America. It is known as the “palmiste” in Trinidad and Tobago, “cabbage palm” in Barbados and chaguaramo or maparó in Venezuela. In Colombia it is known as mapora in Spanish, mapórbot in Jitnu and mapoloboto in Sikuani.
Roystonea oleracea is the tallest and “most majestic” royal palm, reaching heights of 130 feet, growing in areas that are very wet for at least part of the year—coastal areas near the sea, and gallery forests in seasonally flooded savannas.
The fruit of this palm is an important component of the diet of orange-winged Amazon parrots and red-bellied macaws in Nariva Swamp, Trinidad and Tobago.
In addition to native parrots, the Roystonea oleracea is a very useful tree for humans, as well. In addition to it being widely used as an ornamental tree in landscaping, the wood can be used for construction and has also been traditionally used to make musical instruments. The apical growth bud is cooked and eaten like a cabbage, and has a delicate flavor.The sap of young inflorescences can be fermented to produce alcohol. An edible starch is obtained from the pith of the stem, however this kills the tree.
There are eight of this species growing at The Merwin Conservancy on Maui.
Want to “virtually explore” the Merwin Palm Collection? Search through our archive of Palm Facts of the Week, featuring palms hand-planted by W.S Merwin. To search through the Online Merwin Palm Database, visit this link.
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