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Colpothrinax wrightii

Cuban Bottle Palm

In Cuba, this unique and easily recognized palm is referred to as palma barrigona, which means potbellied palm and aptly describes the grotesque swelling in the trunk of this palm a meter or more above the ground. It is probably the only palm shedding its bark, which is dark brown and rough and often entirely clothed in the fibrous leaf sheaths, but reveals a smooth, gray trunk underneath when it falls off as the palm ages and passes its juvenile stage, after its "belly" is formed. Colpothrinax is related to Pritchardia and indeed, apart from the curious bulge in its trunk, is quite reminiscent of certain Hawaiian Pritchardia. The leaves are dark green above and silvery below, the leaf tips finely drawn out and pendulous. It is still common in western Cuba where it grows in savannas that have now mostly been converted for agriculture, effectively preventing any rejuvenation of the aged populations. The leaves are locally popular as thatch, the trunks as building material the fruits as pig fodder (can you imagine!?!). It adapts well to cultivation in tropical and some warm temperate climates but is still very rarely seen, as seeds are hardly ever available. Growth is slow at first but reasonable once the plant is established, about 25 cm (10 in.) per year.

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If you wish to read more on palm cultivation, we highly recommend Ornamental Palm Horticulture by Timothy K. Broschat and Alan W. Meerow, available in our bookshop.

Ratings and comments reflect individual experiences and the views of our visitors. They do not necessarily describe the most appropriate methods, nor are they necessarily valid for all seeds or plants of this species. Germination and plant cultivation success depends on many different factors; nevertheless, these experiences will hopefully aid you in your effort to get the best germination results from our seeds and the best growth results from your plants.

We recommend:
The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft, Scott Zona

2nd edition
Completely revised and updated

Hardcover - 528 pages
11 x 8.5 inches

Our rating:
Suitable for: all

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is the definitive account of all palms that can be grown for ornamental and economic use. Palms are often underutilized as a result of their unfamiliarity—even to tropical gardeners. To help introduce these valuable plants to a new audience, the authors have exhaustively documented every genus in the palm family.
825 species are described in detail, including cold hardiness, water needs, height, and any special requirements. Generously illustrated with more than 900 photos, including photos of several palm species that have never before appeared in a general encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is as valuable as an identification guide as it is a practical handbook. Interesting snippets of history, ethnobotany, and biology inform the text and make this a lively catalog of these remarkable plants.

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