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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 22 | Arecaceae

10. Pseudophoenix H. Wendland ex Sargent, Botanical Gazette. 11: 314. 1886.

Cherry palm [from Greek pseudos, false, and Phoenix, the date palm]

Cyclospathe O. F. Cook; Sargentia H. Wendland & Drude ex Salomon

Stems solitary, erect, robust, unarmed, smooth. Leaves: leaf bases not completely tubular, forming partial crownshaft, unarmed; petiole unarmed; blade pinnate; plication reduplicate; segments irregularly spaced along unarmed rachis, in multiple planes, linear-lanceolate; apices acute. Inflorescences axillary within leafy crown, ascending, becoming pendulous in fruit, with 4 orders of branching; prophyll small, tubular, leathery; peduncular bracts 2, tubular, enclosing most of peduncle, leathery. Flowers bisexual (distal flowers with reduced gynoecia), borne singly along rachillae on pedicel-like stalks, subtended by minute bract; sepals 3, connate, forming shallow triangular calyx; petals 3, ovate, basally slightly connate, persistent in fruit; stamens 6, basally adnate to corolla; filaments linear; anthers dorsifixed; pistils 1, 3-loculate; ovules 1 per locule; styles indistinct; stigmas minute. Fruits drupes, globose, or 2- or 3-lobed if more than 1 ovule matures; stigmatic scar basal or in 3-lobed fruits, apical; exocarp red, smooth; mesocarp fleshy; endocarp bony. Seeds 1--3, globose; endosperm homogeneous; embryo basal; eophyll undivided, lanceolate. xn = 17.

Species 4 (1 in the flora): North America, Mexico, West Indies, Central America (Belize).

Pseudophoenix sargentii occupies a most precarious position in the North American flora: only small populations remain on Elliott Key in southern Florida (B. R. Ledin et al. 1959; C. Lippincott 1992, 1995). Since its discovery some 100 years ago, botanists have witnessed a precipitous decline in Pseudophoenix populations in the Florida Keys as these attractive palms were removed for use in landscaping (F. C. Craighead Sr. and D. B. Ward n.d.). Recently naturalists have replanted palms on Long Key, more than 30 years after the last wild palms had been seen there (C. Lippincott 1992, 1995).

Pseudophoenix is probably insect pollinated, since its greenish yellow flowers produce nectar and attract numerous bees. The fruits of P. sargentii, which float when dry, are thought to be dispersed by water (R. W. Read 1968); their attractive red coloration and fleshy mesocarp, however, suggest animal dispersal (S. Zona and A. Henderson 1989).


Craighead, F. C. Sr. and D. B. Ward. Nn.d. Endangered: Buccaneer pPalm. In: D. B. Ward, ed. nN.d. Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida. Vol. 5. Plants. Gainesville. Pp. 54--55. Ledin, R. B., S. C. Kiem, and R. W. Read. 1959. Pseudophoenix in Florida. I. The native Pseudophoenix sargentii. Principes 3: 23--133. Lippincott, C. 1992. Restoring Sargent's cherry palm on the Florida Keys. Fairchild Trop. Gard. Bull. 47: 12--21. Lippincott, C. 1995. Reintroduction of Pseudophoenix sargentii in the Florida Keys. Principes 39: 5--13. Read, R. W. 1968. A study of Pseudophoenix (Palmae). Gentes Herb. 10: 169--213.

Lower Taxa


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