Prestoea acuminata

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Figure 1. A dense forest of P. acuminata var montanafrom about 1300m above sea level near the highest point in Puerto Rico.


Common Names:

Red Crownshaft Palm, (P. acuminata)
Mountain Cabbage Palm (P. acuminata var montana)

Conservation Status:

Not threatened.

Distribution & Habitat:

Widely spread through-out the Caribbean Islands, Central America, and South America down to Bolivia. The type form is found on the mainland, while P. acuminata var montana is found in wet cloud forest on high mountains on some of the Caribbean islands.


A highly variable, medium sized pinnate palm to 8m tall, which can be either solitary or suckering. Typically the solitary form is referred to as P. acuminata var montana (which used to be P. montana), while the suckering form is known as P. acuminata. It has a green, white ringed trunk up to 25cm across, while the crownshaft varies from green through to reddish through to purplish black. The dark green leaves are medium sized, 2.0-2.5m long, and are held in a fairly upright manner.


P. acuminata is one of the two famous 'red crownshaft' palms that are found along the Inca Trail in southern Ecuador (the other species being Geonoma undata).


Likes rich, very well drained soil. Usually prefers some shade unless the humidity is very high.

Figure 2. P. acuminata var montana (close-up of above).

Contributed by:

Brandt Maxwell,
Brandt's Palm and Tree Page (Figure 1&2)

External Links:

Kew, PalmWeb, eMonocot, JSTOR, Trebrown

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums, PalmTalk