Copernicia baileyana

Common name

bailey fan palm

Description

Stems: Solitary, erect stems, to 20 m tall up to 40 cm in diameter (sometimes swollen to 60 cm near the middle). Stems of younger individuals are covered with persistent leaf bases; older palms with smooth, columnar, nearly white stems ringed by faint leaf scars. Leaves: Costapalmate, induplicate, with an elongated petiole, a more or less circular blade to 1.5 m across, and stiff leaf segments with erect tips. The upper leaf surface is green; the undersurface, waxy gray-green; leaftips, bifid. The petiole is armed with curved teeth and is not split at the base. Flowers and fruits: Inflorescence (over 2 m long) often extends beyond the leaves with many feathery branches. The flowers have both male and female parts. Fruits are spherical, up to 18-23 mm long and 18-20 mm in diameter, turning black when ripe.

Diagnostic features

Field: Fan palm with stem to 20 m tall with diameter of 40 cm and swollen bulge to 60 cm; pale columnar stem; leaves with stiff, erect tips.

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

Other Copernicia species, but the size of the leaves (to 1.5 m) and stiff, erect leaf segment tips make it distinctive.

Distribution

Native to Cuba

Additional comments

This magnificent palm is noted for its massive, white, columnar stem, but the juvenile palm begins with an underground stem from which a canopy of a dozen or more leaves appears to grow directly from the soil.

Scientific name

Copernicia baileyana Leon

Family

Arecaceae/Palmae

Synonyms

Copernicia fallaense Leon

Last Updated May 2014

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