The Royal Palm Tree, scientific name Roystonea oleracea, is native to Cuba and North America. Royal Palm Trees are popular in many warm, coastal landscapes, particularly in southern Florida and parts of California. They can be also found in the Caribbean, Central and South American, and Texas. The grace and beauty of a Royal Palm makes it a popular tree along the streets of many cities. Often they are used in the islands of large parking lots or in medians along the highway. Nothing says “tropical” like the majestic Royal Palm. There are 10 species of Royal Palm around the world.
Royal Palm Tree Profile
Scientific name:Roystonea oleracea
Common names: Royal Palm Tree is also known as Royal Palm, Cuban Royal Palm, Florida Royal Palm.
Origin: Roystonea oleracea is native to Cuba and North America.
Appearance: It has a single smooth gray trunk that is covered with scars from old leaves. Dark green arching fronds emerge from a bright green crownshaft. Pinnate, or feather-like, fronds grow up to 6-10ft long.
Flowers/Fruits: Fragrant, yellow flowers bloom in the summer. Evergreen leaf-blades reaching 18 to 36 inches top a crown shaft that is long and green. Purple to black half-inch fruits are showy but not edible.
Growth Rate: Moderate. The Royal Palm can get up to 60 – 70ft tall and 5 -10 ft wide with a growth rate of around a foot each year.
Outdoor/Indoor Use: Both. This palm can be grown indoors if provided with enough light.
Cold Tolerance: Roystonea oleracea can tolerate cold weather down to 30F for a short period of time. This palm is not cold hardy and needs to be protected from frost and cold snaps. I grows best in the USDA Zones 10a (30 to 35 F) to 11 (above 40 F).
Light Req: Partial shade to Full sun.
Water Req: Moderate. The Royal palm likes lots of water but it is moderately drought tolerant. This makes it a good tree even if you live in a place that has watering restrictions. While it does love to be watered, it must be well drained.
Amazingly though, they not only tolerate, but seem to thrive in the poor soil and drainage of urban environments where other trees tend to do poorly. Soil can be clay, sand or loam; it doesn’t seem to be very picky in this regard. The Royal palm prefers acidic to slightly alkaline soil, but be careful not to have too much alkalinity or the fronds may come out frizzled.
Maintenance: Easy. To prevent nutritional deficiency, apply good quality palm fertilizer that has continuous release formula twice a year during growing season.
Insects and Diseases: The Royal palm is resistant to many pests and diseases; however there are a few that you should be aware of. One potential pest is the Royal Palm bug. This pest feeds on the young leaves of the tree. As the leaves mature they may look scorched. Problems with this bug tend to be worse in the early spring, but improve in the early summer.
Other insect pests can include the palm leaf skeletonizer which feeds on the leaf tissue between the veins. Giant palm weevil and scales can cause problems as well. Sometimes chemical treatments are useful but often these problems will just need to run their course.
Removal of infected trees might be the only solution, but it is best to consult your local Extension office to get the latest information.
Ganoderma butt rot is a fungal disease that will kill infected palms. By the time symptoms are visible, the tree has already been rotted on the inside. Therefore, no treatment is available. Removal of the tree is the only option.
Propagation: From seeds.
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