You might have noticed the tall, single-stemmed palm trees that are found in landscapes, driveways and highway medians. Most of these ornamental palm trees turn out to be royal palms that belong to the genus Roystonea in the family Arecaceae. This genus, which is named after Roy Stone, a US Army engineer, consists of 11 species of palm trees that are commonly called royal palms. These palms are native to certain regions of Central and South America and the Caribbean Islands.
Royal Palm Facts
So, we know that royal palm trees are tall trees with single, columnar stem and pinnate leaves. There are around 11 species of royal palms and they include Roystonea stellata, Roystonea violacea, Roystonea borinquena, Roystonea altissima, Roystonea dunlapiana, Roystonea lenis, Roystonea oleracea, Roystonea maisiana, Roystonea palaea, Roystonea princeps and Roystonea regia. One of the commonly found species is Roystonea regia, which is also the national tree of Cuba.
In general, royal palms are tall and most of them are found to have a height of 15 to 20 meters. However, Roystonea oleracea can attain a maximum height of 40 meters. These palms have smooth, columnar trunk that may be bulged for certain lengths. These bulged parts show periods of healthy growth of these plants. In young palms, you may also find leaf scars along the length of the trunk. In most cases, the color of the stem is found to be grayish white or grayish brown. However, the stem of Roystonea violacea has a violet tinge.
As compared to other species, Roystonea maisiana and Roystonea altissima are found to be thinner. Another feature of these palms is the green colored crown shaft formed at the upper end of the trunk. This green portion is actually formed by the sheath-like base of leaves. In most species, the crown shaft has a length of around 1.5 to two meters and it is from the top portion of this part that the leaves emerge. The whitish inflorescence of royal palm trees develop just below the crown shaft and transform to blackish purple fruits.
How to Take Care of a Royal Palm
Royal palms are among the popular palm tree types that are mainly grown for ornamental purposes. In some regions, the heart of the palm is used for consumption, whereas some people use its seeds as an alternative to coffee beans.
Before planting a royal palm tree, you must choose an ideal location that can provide the plant with full sun to partial shade. As they are fast-growing and can attain a huge size, it will be wise to avoid areas with buried utility lines and other fixtures. Make sure to avoid locations with overhead cables and power lines. Even though these plants are found to thrive in various types of soil, it will be better to plant them in well-drained and slightly acidic soil. These palms are ideal for tropical regions, but, they may thrive in other areas as well. However, these palms trees may not thrive in areas where the temperature drops below 28°F on a regular basis.
These palms love water rich areas, but can also survive with less water and most of them are found to be drought tolerant to some extent. Young royal palms should be planted in sandy soil mixed with a small amount of slow release fertilizer. You have to provide them with stakes and water regularly, till they get established. They are found to be resistant to most of the pests and diseases. However, pests like royal palm bug may affect the leaves, especially during the spring. Large trees are often removed and destroyed, if they get infected.
If you are interested in growing royal palms, then contact the local nursery. You may also buy these plants online. A royal palm tree can be an elegant addition to your landscape. You may consult a horticulturist or the local nursery authorities for knowing more about growing these palms.