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Origin and Habitat: Endemic to Sierra de los Órganos, Pinar del Río Province in western Cuba
Habitat: It grows in open forest on steep-sided limestone hills (known as mogotes) often in the most inaccessible places on embankments above rocks or in crevices clinging to the bare rock with its thick, fleshy roots in. Together with such species as Leucothrinax morrisii and Microcycas calocoma, it is perfectly adapted to this habitat and the strongly seasonal monsoonal climate. A species of the same genus Gaussia spirituana , the fan-leaved palm Thrinax morrisii and other endemic plants like Bombax emarginatum, Bombacopsis cubensis, Ekmanhianthe actinophylla and Microcycas calocoma are also found in same limestone formations. Fauna includes: Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), Cuban Trogon (Priotelus temnurus), Cuban Tody (Todus multicolor), Cuban Solitaire (Myadestes elisabeth) and Cuban Grassquit (Tiaris canorus).
- Gaussia princeps H.Wendl.
Gaussia princeps H.Wendl.
Nachr. Königl. Ges. Wiss. Georg-Augusts-Univ. 1865: 328 (1865)
Description: Gaussia princeps is an interesting solitary pinnate palm with a flared, bottle trunk when young.
Trunk: 6-12 metres (or more) tall, whitish, elegant, scarcely ringed, fusiform, slightly curved at base, swollen and wider at the lowest third tapering and very thin towards the higher part to a minimum diam. of (5-) 7-10 cm and roughly 30 centimetres in diameter at the swelling. The stems of juvenile specimen is very ornamental massively swollen, barrel-shaped and gives it a distinct similarity to the Bottle Palm, Hyophorbe lagenicaulis.
Crown: Open, with 3 to 6 fronds not all that neat in a nearly distichous arrangement.
Crownshaft: Long green and tapering.
Leaves: Large pinnately compound, plumose, up to 2.5 m; leaflets bright green, linear-lanceolate, less than 4 cm wide, regularly arranged but spreading in different planes.
Inflorescences: Above the leaves, highly branched to two orders and amply supported on pedicels. Flowers inconspicuous in short clumps.
Fruit: Ellipsoid, with orange-red pericarp, 1 cm long and 7 millimetres in diameter, with one to three seeds.
Remarks: This species is very similar to Roystonea regia, but the trunk gets wider towards the base and narrower towards the top.
Cultivation and Propagation: Despite its ornamental qualities it is rarely grown as ornamental in gardens and parks. It is moderately slow and quite drought tolerant and can grow on poor and rocky soils.
Soil: Limestone is preferred however it is very adaptable to many kinds of very well drained soils comprising medium and heavy soils, sand, lava and loam both acidic or neutral.(use light, fast draining soils in containers).
Fertilization: Need a perfect fertilizer diet including all micro nutrients and trace elements or a slow release fertilizer applied in spring and summer, or according to package directions.
Water Requirements: Although it tolerates low levels of humidity, the palm has deep roots that typically seek out subterranean water sources and prefers evenly moist but not consistently wet medium. When supplied with adequate moisture and fertilizer it is also fairly fast growing. It dislikes soggy soils.
Light: It prefers bright sunny locations, but it also does well in part shade with some direct sunlight when young.
Aerosol salt tolerance: It is salt resistant, making it good for coastal planting.
Wind resistance: It endures drying winds.
Hardiness: These palms do well in warm temperate regions that do not experience any more than a rare light freeze, although it will require some protection if cold periods are longer than normal. ( USDA Zones 10-11 - Zone 9 palm enthusiast grow them in sheltered location but occasional freeze damage to foliage can be expected)
Roots: Usually not a problem
Pest and diseases: Young plants are very susceptible to leaf spot and other fungus infections when grown in humid climates.
Uses: It is used in gardening and landscaping in large areas. Seedlings are quite slow, but speed up considerably once they start to trunk. And thanks to its drought resistance and durability to heat it can thrive in harsh urban conditions.
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