Copernicia alba

Common name

caranday palm

Description

Stems: Solitary, erect stems, to 30 m tall (usually shorter in cultivation), up to 20 cm in diameter. Stems of younger individuals are covered with old leaf bases; older palms with smooth, columnar stems ringed by faint leaf scars. Leaves: Palmate, induplicate, with an elongated petiole, a more or less circular blade to 1 m across, and stiff leaf segments. The upper leaf surface is green; the undersurface, waxy gray to silver; leaftips, bifid. The petiole is armed with curved teeth and is not split at the base. Flowers and fruits: Inflorescence is longer than leaves and much branched. The flowers have both male and female parts. Fruits are up to 2 cm long and 9-17 mm in diameter, turning black when ripe.

Diagnostic features

Field: Palmate leaves with heavy wax, recurved teeth along the petiole, and feathery inflorescences far exceeding the leaves

Lab: Leaf midribs prominent on the underside; transverse veins are not obvious. Pale tan to buff colored wooly tomentum along base of leaf blade and midribs

May be confused with

Copernicia prunifera, the carnuba wax palm, but C. prunifera has spirally arranged leaf bases that persist around the stems, is usually no more than 12 m tall, and has leaf blades 1.5-2 m wide with heavy wax on both upper and lower surfaces.

Distribution

Native to subtropical South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay) in seasonally flooded savannas

Additional comments

This species is the most cold hardy of the genus.

Scientific name

Copernicia alba Morong

Family

Arecaceae/Palmae

Synonyms

Copernicia australis Becc.

Copernicia cerifera Mart.

Copernicia nigra Morong ex Becc.

Copernicia ramulosa Burret

Copernicia rubra Morong

Last Updated May 2014

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