Prickly palm


Prickly palm, grugru palm, or macaw palm, is native to the Caribbean, Central America and South America. It reaches a height of 50 feet, with a spiny trunk up to 1 foot in diameter near the base, narrowing and then widening again toward the top of the palm. The leaves are up to 12 feet long and are composed of several rows of long, slender leaflets. Inflorescences arise among the leaves and are up to 6 feet long. Ripe fruits are yellowish-green and about 1.5 inches wide, bats feed on the skin and disperse the seeds. It flowers and produces fruits during most of the year. Artisans slice the seed and polish the hard surface to produce  rings. The generic name means with a tuft of hair, in reference to the crown of leaves. The species name means thorny, in reference to the spines that surround the trunk.

The photographed palm is in the garden across from the Monzón Building. It was planted by Carlos Figueroa shortly before 1990. There's a similar specimen north of the Art Musem and Academic Senate Building.

Acrocomia aculeata (Arecaceae)