Monographs Details: Roystonea oleracea var. oleracea
Authority: Zona, Scott A. 1996. Roystonea (Arecaceae: Arecoideae). Fl. Neotrop. Monogr. 71: 1-35. (Published by NYBG Press)
Family:Arecaceae
Synonyms:Areca oleracea Jacq., Oreodoxa oleracea Mart., Roystonea oleracea (Jacq.) O.F.Cook, Euterpe caribaea Spreng., Oreodoxa caribaea (Spreng.) Dammer, Roystonea caribaea (Spreng.) P.Wilson, Roystonea venezuelana L.H.Bailey
Description:Variety Description - Lowest leaves held more or less horizontally; leaf 4.6-4.9 m long. Prophyll 46.5-52 cm long and 8.8-1.6 cm wide. Peduncular bract ca. 1.54 m long, widest above the middle, apex caudate. Endocarp 9.8-12.9 mm long. Eophyll linear-elliptical, 10-21 cm long and 1-2.4 cm wide, short- or exstipitate, weakly costate. n= 18 (Sharma & Sarkar, 1957).

Discussion:Despite assertions that differences exist between R. venezuelana and R. oleracea var. oleracea (e.g., Braun & Delascio Chitty, 1987; Vlasic, 1993), I am unable to find any consistent morphological or molecular differences between the two taxa. Stamen, filament, and anther lengths are marginally smaller in populations from South America (i.e., R. venezuelana); however, these differences are relatively minor and are not corroborated by other differences. For this reason, a single species is recognized here.

The name Euterpe caribaea Sprengel was superfluous when published because Sprengel cited Areca oleracea Jacq. as a synonym. The type of E. caribaea is the type of A. oleracea.

Palms of this species are the largest in the genus, both in height and trunk diameter. They form a commanding presence in the otherwise low vegetation of the Lesser Antilles. In Barbados, where the remains of R. oleracea var. oleracea avenues still mark the entrances to the homes of once grand sugar estates, this taxon occurs spontaneously in the rocky gullies that criss-cross the island.

Stems are used for construction and were formerly used as a source of starch (sago); leaves are used for fiber. The terminal bud is edible. Delascio Chitty (1978) reported that alcohol is produced from the fermented sap of immature inflorescences. Hughes (1750) noted that immature inflorescences were consumed as a pickled vegetable.
Distribution:Barbados South America| Saint Michael Barbados South America| Saint Peter Barbados South America| Colombia South America| Meta Colombia South America| Venezuela South America| Distrito Federal Venezuela South America| Barinas Venezuela South America| Bolívar Venezuela South America| Falcón Venezuela South America| Monagas Venezuela South America| Trinidad and Tobago South America| French Guiana South America| Panama Central America|

Common Names:Cabbage tree, palmiste, cabbage palm, royal palm, palmetto royal, palmier franc, chou palmiste, chaguaramo, maparó