The Cabada palm is a multi-stemmed, clumping palm with arching fronds. A dozen or so canes radiate upward from a single clump. Green in color, each stem is smooth and punctuated with prominent rings resembling bamboo. Fronds number 6 to 10 for each stem and are 10 feet in length. The Cabada is similar to the common areca palm except for a few characteristics: Cabadas grow taller by 10 feet, develop a bit slower, and the fronds are held more stiffly to the stem. A pendant cluster of red fruits follows after flowering.
The Cabada has high to moderate light needs, full to partial sun is required. Water until established, then only in times of severe drought. It does better with well-drained soil. Fresh seeds should germinate in 2 to 4 months. Suckering begins several years after planting. They can be grown indoors with sufficient light.
While obscure, the native origins were thought to be Madagascar. No wild Cabada palms were found in the wild until a recent discovery after 2010; specimens were found growing northwest of Madagascar in the Comoro Islands. Seedlings from these wild specimens were widely distributed. Previous to this latest discovery, the Cabada palm was cultivated extensively in Cuba, likely from a single accession.
Dr. Cabada of Cienfuegos, Cuba, asked a ship captain to bring him curious palms from around the tropical world. From then on, the Cabada palm spent 200 years in cultivation. The palm enthusiast Stanley Kiem brought the Cabada palm to Florida in 1950.
- Container plant
- Indoor plant
- Privacy / screening
- No dangers
High Risk Traits:
- Grows in tropical climates
- Fleshy-fruits adapted for bird and mammal dispersal
- Suckering palm, may be able to spread vegetatively
- Intentionally spread by people
- Ecology and biology not well studied. Behavior in a new environment may therefore be difficult to predict
Low Risk Traits:
- Not reported to be naturalized or invasive in other locations
- Unarmed (no spines, thorns or burrs)
- Landscaping and ornamental value
- Seeds unlikely to be accidentally dispersed