Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 626 Copernicia macroglossa

Common Names: Cuban petticoat palm, petticoat palm Family: Arecacea (palm Family)

Cuban petticoat palm
This young Copernicia macroglossa is resplendent in its floor length petticoat of old leaves!


Cuban petticoat palm has a single trunk which grows up to 30 ft (9.1 m) high and 8 in (20.3 cm) in diameter. This unique palm has erect leaves that grow in the form of a spiral from the top of the trunk. The leaves are fan-shaped and grow right out of the trunk with almost no petiole (leaf stem). This gives the tree a "dressed" appearance, with the persistent older leaves forming its unique and characteristic "petticoat". The foliage of petticoat palm produces a canopy about 6-10 ft (1.8-3.1 m) in diameter. A protruding, vertical inflorescence appears in summer. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. The female plant bears oval black berries 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter.


The Cuban petticoat palm, Copernicia macroglossa, is native to Cuba as are several other members of this genus, including C. baileyana, C. glabresens and C. rigida.


Petticoat palm will tolerate poor soils, however it responds well to fertilization. It does best in full sun, with hot and humid conditions. Trim the leaves as they fade if you don't care for the petticoat (they can harbor bugs and varmints). This gives the palm a less massive and more graceful look. Light: Needs full sun. Moisture: Highly drought tolerant, the petticoat palm also thrives in moist soils with good drainage. Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 - 11. Many experienced growers are now growing petticoat palm successfully in Zones 8B and 9. Propagation: By seeds, which take about two months to germinate.
Cuban petticoat palm
Older Cuban petticoat palms are taller and leggier and the spent foliage looks more like a hula skirt.


This Cuban native adores full sun and is a truly unique specimen palm. In fact, many growers consider it their favorite. Be careful, petticoat palm may become your center of attention and conversation!


This genus of palm trees was named after the famous Polish astronomer Copernicus (1473-1543), who proposed that the Sun was the center of the universe, around which the Earth and all heavenly objects orbited. What a fitting name for a such a special palm that wears a "petticoat," and has become the center of attention and a true favorite of many growers and admirers. The specific part of the name, macroglossa, is from the Greek, meaning large tongue, which is believed to describe the long, wide leaves of the mature petticoat palm.

The related carnauba palm (Copernicia prunifera) from Brazil, is the source of the most important of all plant-based waxes: carnauba wax.


Petticoat palm is somewhat spiny, so caution is advised when handling. It is a good idea not to plant this palm too close to walkways.

Chuck McLendon 2/1/00; updated 4/19/00, 1/9/04, 5/30/07

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Copernicia species profiled on Floridata:

Copernicia baileyana

( Bailey palm, yarey palm )

Copernicia hospita

( Cuban Wax Palm, Guano Palm, Cano Palm, Guano Espinoso )

Copernicia macroglossa

( Cuban petticoat palm, petticoat palm )

Copernicia prunifera

( carnauba wax palm )

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