Roystonea borinquena (Puerto Rico Royal Palm)

Royal Palms are used extensively in ornamental landscapes, but they grow in estuaries and coastal swamps also. They belong to the Roystonea genus of eleven species of monoecious palms, native to the Caribbean Islands, and the adjacent coasts of Florida and Central and northern South America. 

The Roystonea genus contains some of the most recognizable and commonly cultivated palms in tropical and subtropical regions, such as Roystonea regia, commonly known as the Cuban royal palm or Florida royal palm, which is a very similar species native to southern Florida, Mexico and parts of Central America and the Caribbean. 
Royal palmRoystonea borinquena (Puerto Rico Royal Palm) Aka Mountain-cabbage Palm, Royal Palm, Palmiste, Palma Real Puertorriqueña, Manacla, Palma Caruta, Palma de Cerdos, Palma de Grana, Palma de Yagua, Palma Real, or Yagua is a species of palm which is native to Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, commonly known as the royal palms, the genus was named for Roy Stone, a U.S. Army engineer. The ‘borinquena’ epithet refers to the Taino word for Puerto Rico.

The flowers are white unlike its cousin Roystonea regia’s (The Cuban Royal Palm) which tend to be pink. It belongs to the Arecaceae family of palms.

Royal BorinquenaThese are the female flowers. Both fruit and flowers are eaten by birds and bats which disperse the seeds. The flowers are white unlike  Roystonea regia’s (The Cuban Royal Palm) which tend to be pink.

Roystonea borinquenaThe fruit are spheroid to ellipsoid in shape, 8.9–15 millimetres (0.35–0.59 in) long and 7–10.9 mm (0.28–0.43 in) wide. They are green when immature, turning red and eventually purplish-black as they mature.

600px-img_8299-copyHere you can see a raceme of both the male and female flowers. Roystonea borinquena is a monoecious palm, bearing unisexual male and female flowers separately.  The 1–1.4 m (3.3–4.6 ft) inflorescences bear creamy yellow male and female flowers; the anthers of the male flowers are bright purple.

Roystonea borinquenaRoystonea borinquena is large palm which usually reaches a height of 12 to 18 metres (40 to 60 ft), but individuals 26.4 m (87 ft) have been recorded. Stems are smooth and grey-brown to cinnamon-brown, and range from 25–70 centimetres (10–28 in) in diameter.

crownshaftLeaves are 2.4–3.7 m (7.9–12.1 ft) long, with short petioles and leaf sheathes 1–3 m (3.3–9.8 ft) long which encircles the upper portion of the stem, forming a crownshaft, which is an elongated circumferential leaf base formation present on royal palms. 

Roystonea regia, however,  reaches a height of 20–30 metres (66–98 ft) tall, (with heights up to 34.5 m (113 ft) reported, according to Wikipedia) and a stem diameter of about 47 centimetres (19 in).

If you’re interested in Royal Palms, please read the following forum discussion about the differences between Roystenia borinquena and Roystenia regia:



27 thoughts on “Roystonea borinquena (Puerto Rico Royal Palm)

  1. Nothing like having palm trees in the garden. They lend graceful definitions to the lawns and surrounding flora. I have been enjoying your beautifully crafted presentations, Maria. I wish you happy holidays and another fulfilling year ahead…


    • Yes, in a way it is, but sometimes foreign plants can be iconic too, like the Poinciana tree is here also. The Bananaquit bird is also iconic but it’s foreign, but this one has the epithet so it is iconic I suppose.


      • When in Cuba a year ago October, we drove west from Habana to the Vinales Valley park. We passed many fields of palms in rows. They weren’t very tall. I suppose they were a crop for oil. Any idea?


      • Maybe, but they may have been cultivars for export to South America or who knows where. All I know is that Royal Palms are very often cultivated for ornamental purposes only and it’s a business because most often the only way they can do well is when they are mature. Many places have to buy them already a certain height. They are nearly impossible to grow by seed without complications and for ornament they must be mature and stable.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t remember seeing these in Texas except much farther south. I think Corpus Christi may be as far north as they can grow. I have seen them in the Rio Grande Valley — at least, I was told they were royal palms. Which variety is open to discussion, I suppose. They’re a beautiful tree, and the flowers are delightful. The smooth banding on the stem is lovely.


    • They are very sought after for ornamental landscaping. Since they are quite big and hard to grow from seed, they can become quite expensive to purchase. The Cuban is also Floridian and are even taller than this “borinquena”.


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