Roystonea regia: Royal palm

Family: Arecaceae
Common name: Royal palm, Cuban royal palm, Florida royal palm

Tall, regal, stunning palm trees that can be a centerpiece for your garden, or line your long pathway beautifully when planted on both side, Royal palms are coveted species everywhere in the world. They are found on almost all continents, though they prefer warm tropical weather.

Royal palms can grow to a height of 30 meters with a trunk diameter of about 50 cms. The long, smooth grey trunk bulges and contracts at some places, usually with a bulge at the base and a bulge just below the crownshaft.

Crownshaft is the glossy green area at the top of the palm from where the leaves arise. These crownshafts are formed from the bases of leaves wrapping around the trunk, which get disconnected when the leaves age and fall off the tree with a big thud when the broad, curved shafts hit the ground.

Each tree can have up to 15 leaves that are about 4 meters long with pinnate green leaves that cover the top of the palm beautifully giving it a 360-degree crown. Royal palm trees produce pinkish-white flowers that later produce small, single-seeded, green fruits, which turn red and then purple when they mature.

These trees are favored by small birds and insects since their houses would not be disturbed easily at that height. The flowers are loved by birds, bees, bats, and insects that help in pollinating them. Fruits are eaten by bats and small birds, who help in the dispersal of the seeds.

Royal palm tree roots have nitrogen-fixing bacteria, a feature mostly seen in the legume family of Fabaceae. The leaves of Royal palm trees are used for thatching houses, making baskets, mats, and other woven materials.

Young leaf buds are cooked and eaten as a vegetable, though this can kill the tree when it loses the key growth areas. Trunks of these sturdy palm trees are used in constructing houses, tents, canoes, and bridges.

Propagation is through seeds.

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