Country of origin: Dominican Republic Plant: Palm tree
The royal palm (Roystonea regia) lends its iconic fronds to street sides, parks and thoroughfares throughout subtropical America, thriving in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11.
The fast-growing royal palm features a long, smooth trunk that tapers as it reaches upward. Mature palm attain heights of about 50 to 100 feet, with canopies that spread up to 25 feet. These trees sport 8-inch long leaflets on 10-foot lengths of glossy pinnate leaves. While the name “royal palm” typically refers to the Cuban royal palm, it may also refer to the Florida royal palm (Roystonea elata). While the Cuban’s trunk bulges at the center, the Florida royal palm’s does not.
Royal palms need plenty of sunlight, but they’re not picky about soil consistency. This plant prefers moist, well-drained soil and often thrives in cypress swamps. Royal palms sprout from distinctive purple seeds, spherical in the case of Florida royals and oblong for Cubans. Birds and bats eat the fruits of the tree and likely spread the seeds. In addition to fruits, the royal palm sports very fragrant flowers — in some cases, you can smell their aroma from 50 feet away.