Arecaceae

Plant Profile

Gaussia princeps

(GAWS-sih-ah) (PREEN-sehps)

Palma de Sierra

Subfamily Arecoideae

Tribe Chamaedoreeae

A moderate to large, solitary palm, native exclusively to westernmost Cuba, where it grows by the thousands on steep and mostly inaccessible karst limestone outcrops locally referred to as mogotes, often clinging to the bare rock with its thick, fleshy roots. Together with such species as Leucothrinax morrisii and Microcycas calocoma, it is perfectly adapted to this habitat and the strongly seasonal monsoonal climate. The Sierra Palm initially produces a pale, massively swollen, barrel-shaped trunk that tapers markedly when the palm reaches maturity and gives it a distinct similarity to the Bottle Palm, Hyophorbe. The crown holds 3 to 6 plumose leaves in a nearly distichous arrangement. Like all Gaussia, it is not fussy in cultivation. Its enjoys a sunny spot in a tropical climate but will also do well in warm temperate regions that do not experience any more than a rare light freeze. Well drained soil is essential, limestone is preferred. It copes easily with drought and can take some exposure. Despite its ornamental qualities and being quite common in its native habitat, like most Cuban palms it is still very rarely seen in cultivation. – Palmpedia

“The native range of this species is W. Cuba. It is a tree and grows primarily in the wet tropical biome.” – Kew