Puerto Rican hat palm


The Puerto Rican hat palm, or Puerto Rican palmetto, is native to Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and St. Croix. It reaches a height of 40 feet, with a smooth trunk 2 or more feet in diameter. The leaves are up to 6 feet long and wide, they have the petiole split at the base and possess no spines. Inflorescences develop between the leaves, measure up to 10 feet long, and extend beyond the leaves. Ripe fruits are black and about half an inch long, the sweet-sour pulp is eaten by birds that disperse the seeds. It flowers and produces fruits irregularly during the year. The leaves were used locally until the mid-20th century to weave hats and baskets. The generic derives from a common name for these palms. The species name derives from a Macedonian name used for wide-brimmed hats.

The photographed palms are west of the Dispensary. Both specimens and a similar one located behind the new Agricultural Sciences greenhouses were planted by Henry Cowles probably before 1940. There are other specimens west of the Monzón Building, in the garden in front of this same building, and west of the Biology Building.

Sabal causiarum (Arecaceae)