t is native to Central America, southeastern Mexico, the Caribbean, Colombia, the Bahamas, and extreme southern Florida where it grows in swamps and periodically flooded forests. It is a small to moderately tall palm that grows in clusters to 5–7 metres (16–23 ft), rarely 9 m (30 ft) tall, with slender stems less than 15 centimetres (5.9 in) diameter. The leaves are palmate (fan-shaped), with segments joined to each other for about half of their length, and are 1–2 m (3.3–6.6 ft) wide, light-green above, and silver underneath. The leaf petiole is 1–1.2 m (3.3–3.9 ft) long, and has orange, curved, sharp teeth along the edges. The flowers are minute, inconspicuous and greenish, with 6 stamens. The trunk is covered with fibrous matting. The fruit is pea-sized, starting orange and turning to black at maturity
In a Mediterranean climate this is a pretty slow-growing palm. A 5 gal plant can take 10-20 years to reach adult height, but it starts to sucker at about that size (5 gal). It is also not too choosy of soil type, growing in nearly solid clay, to sand, and has a high tolerance for salt water. It is relatively uneffected by high winds, and is somewhat drought tolerant, though can also grow in standing water. If it weren't so slow growing, it would be a great landscaping palm for southern California, but it is a pretty rare palm in that area.
These palms are quite drought tolerant, and will thrive with no special care in Mediterranean climates like Southern California, Western Australia, etc. without a great deal of extra water. However, they are native to swampy places and will do much, much better is watered more heavily, or, even better, sited in a swamp.
t does require continuous trimming of dead leaves, or else one ends up with a large, messy, dense shrub that can be pretty unsightly.In Mediterranean climates, where Ganoderma is a rare problem, this palm is usually disease free. That is not necessarily true in its native climates, where this is a particularly susceptible species to that fungus. Once infected, it is nearly impossible to cure it, and it will usually eventually succumb. As Ganoderma is a soil fungus, no other susceptible species should be planted in its place-ever. It is nearly impossible to eradicate this fungus from the soil once present.