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Origin and Habitat: Endemic to Cuba (West Indies)
Habitat: Locally common in the wild and distributed all over the island especially in central part on calcareous limestone soils in dry, arid, sun exposed, grassland, semi-deciduous open forest, degraded scrub, and savannas where it forms forests called corojales.
- Acrocomia crispa (Kunth) C.F.Baker ex Becc.
Acrocomia crispa (Kunth) C.F.Baker ex Becc.
Pomona Coll. J. Econ. Bot. 2: 364 (1912)
- Acrocomia crispa (Kunth) C.F.Baker ex Becc.
- Astrocaryum crispum (Kunth) M.Gómez
- Cocos crispa Kunth
- Gastrococos armentalis Morales
- Gastrococos crispa (Kunth) H.E.Moore
- Acrocomia armentalis (Morales) L.H.Bailey & E.Z.Bailey
ENGLISH: Belly palm, Cuban belly palm, Corojo palm
SPANISH (Español): Corojo (Cuba)
Description: Acrocomia crispa is a solitary, very spiny, monoecious palm. It has a very peculiar trunk, slender at the base, but swollen (belly-like) in the middle (hence the common English name belly palm). Mature specimens lose most of the spines off their trunks but everywhere else is dangerously spiny. It is one of the most beautiful palm trees in the world.
Trunk: Single, ventricose (Swollen half-way), grey, 12-18 m tall, 20-46 cm in diameter with spaced ring leaf scars and covered with horizontal rows of thorns except the oldest part. The spines are flattened on one side, yellow or white with very sharp dark-coloured tips.
Crown: Has a spread of up to 5 m.
Leaves (fronds): Large, segmented, pinnate (feather-like), arching, 2,5-3 m long, 1,5 m wide, dark green above and, silver green or blue-green beneath with numerous fine needlelike spines about 20 mm long on the rachis end leaflets. Pinnae distributed with different angulations on the rachis.
Inflorescence: Thorny, between the leaves, monoecious (Both male and female flowers grow on the same thorny inflorescence).
Flowers: Small yellow.
Blooming season: Summer.
Fruits: Globose about 2,5 in diameter orange-yellow, contain a fairly good quantity of oil utilized for alimentary purposes..
Remarks: This is a tillering palm, that exhibits a saxophone style root growth (it has a heel).
Bibliography: Major references
1) Lyster Hoxie Dewey “Fiber production in the western hemisphere” U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, 1943
2) Henderson, Andrew; Gloria Galeano; Rodrigo Bernal (1995). "Field Guide to the Palms of the Americas" Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-08537-4.
3) Kyburz, Rolf. "Gastrococos crispa". PACSOA, the Palm and Cycad Society of Australia. Archived from the original on 18 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-21.
Cultivation and Propagation: Rare in cultivation it is an easy to grow palm that enjoys sun, heat and dry conditions, The root system of this species is very sensitive and good sized specimen is extremely difficult to successfully dig and transplant to another location.
Growth rate: Very slow growing when young, however fairly rapid past the juvenile stage, and speed up considerably when they start to trunk.
Soil: It likes sandy calcareous soil, but is adaptable to different soil type. Good drainage is also important. Alkaline soil tolerant.
Fertilization: Need a perfect fertilizer diet twice a year during growing season including all micro nutrients and trace elements or slow release fertilizer, but particularly it is needs plentiful of magnesium. If it doesn't get enough magnesium, the leaves take on a rather unhealthy yellow colour.
Watering: It thrives in fairly dry and hot climates, but enjoy also rainy climates and proved to tolerate a wide variety of conditions. In areas where summer rain is prevalent, it seems to put on rapid growth with this ample water, but it does not want to sit in continually wet, mucky soil. Very drought tolerant when mature enough.
Light: It should be planted to maximise Summer heat & sunshine exposure but will tolerate half day sun.
Hardiness: USDA zones, (9B)10-11. Some cold tolerance. This palm can tolerate close to freezing conditions has tolerated temperatures down to –2ºC and even a little snow for very short time, it will not tolerate any duration of dormancy and anything other than the briefest of cold snaps will surely kill a young plant. However it can be difficult to get it to look its best without a great amount of heat and sun. and so it is only really suited to the t tropics, subtropics and favourable Mediterranean microclimates in frost-free regions. Under cold conditions keep this palm as dry as possible, which will usually mean constructing a glass or plastic roof over the plant to keep rain off, and supplemental heat provided over duration. Any cover placed over this palm during times of rain or during cold nights must be removed or vented during hours of sunshine or the plant could be severely heat stressed.
Aerosol salt tolerance: It is moderately salt tolerant, but does a lot better inland then it does on the coast.
Maintenance: Prune diseased, damaged or drying fronds, but do not prune if the frond still has some green colour. Palms recycle nutrients from dead or dying fronds and use them for healthier fronds. Palms only have a set number of new leaves that can sprout and grow per year and removing fronds will not increase that number. If you cut off more than what will grow annually, you could be left with a pretty bare and bald Palm.
Garden uses: This is a plant of great ornamental value to be utilized outdoors in wide spaces and in full sun, in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate areas. Either as a single specimen or in groups, this is a strikingly beautiful species. Its very neat appearance and stature makes it perfect near highways and used to accent residential landscapes. This palm is expensive, but is definitely worth the money. Culture in containers is possible although growth rates are slower. A shade screen patio will provide an excellent environment for young specimens which can eventually be planted in a sunny location.
Traditional uses: It produces strong, slender ribbon like fibre called pita de corojo obtained from the leaves of the corojo palm. These are sometimes extracted by hand and Tun by. hand into yarns that are woven into fabrics. The flat corojo fiber, which is the more common form, has been used extensively in fly brushes called plumeros de pita. The fibre is also used in hand-made twines, ropes, and halters.
Warning: The plants are very spiny, just at the stage of seedlings and young all over caution!
Propagation: Fresh seeds are difficult to germinate. It can take anywhere from few months up to one year to germinate. The seedlings are attractive.
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