Coccothrinax crinita: Old Man Palm1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean 2


This Cuba-native is well known for its stiff, beige-colored hairs densely borne along the entire length of the single, thick trunk, reaching a height of 15 feet. Palmately lobed, simple leaves appear compound and are delicately borne on short, thin petioles.

Figure 1. Full Form—Coccothrinax crinita: Old man palm
Figure 1.  Full Form—Coccothrinax crinita: Old man palm

General Information

Scientific name: Coccothrinax crinita

Pronunciation: koe-koe-THRYE-nacks krin-NEE-tuh

Common name(s): old man palm

Family: Arecaceae

Plant type: palm; tree

USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Figure 2)

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round

Origin: native to western Cuba

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: not assessed/incomplete assessment

Uses: specimen; container or above-ground planter; recommended for buffer strips around parking lots or for median strip plantings in the highway

Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 10 to 15 feet

Spread: 6 to 10 feet

Plant habit: upright

Plant density: open

Growth rate: slow

Texture: coarse


Leaf arrangement: spiral

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: star-shaped

Leaf venation: palmate

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: 5 feet

Leaf color: dark green on top, silvery gray underneath

Fall color: no fall color change

Fall characteristic: not showy
Figure 3. Leaf—Coccothrinax crinita: Old man palm
Figure 3.  Leaf—Coccothrinax crinita: Old man palm


Flower color: yellow

Flower characteristic: emerges in cluster on 5' long spikes that form beneath the crown

Flowering: summer
Figure 4. Flower—Coccothrinax crinita: Old man palm
Figure 4.  Flower—Coccothrinax crinita: Old man palm


Fruit shape: round

Fruit length: 1 inch

Fruit cover: fleshy

Fruit color: purple

Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: usually with one stem/trunk; no thorns

Bark: pale brown, with a long, wool-like, fibrous covering

Current year stem/twig color: not applicable

Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable
Figure 5. Bark, Upper—Coccothrinax crinita: Old man palm
Figure 5.  Bark, Upper—Coccothrinax crinita: Old man palm
Figure 6. Bark, Lower—Coccothrinax crinita: Old man palm
Figure 6.  Bark, Lower—Coccothrinax crinita: Old man palm
Credit: Gitta Hasing


Light requirement: partial shade

Soil tolerances: clay; acidic; sand; loam; well-drained

Drought tolerance: moderate

Soil salt tolerances: unknown

Aerosol salt tolerance: low

Plant spacing: not applicable


Roots: usually not a problem

Winter interest: no special winter interest

Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

One old man palm may be all that is needed in a small landscape, but they can be planted en mass if room and budget permit. They appear to be standing like soldiers with their stiff, bearded trunks emerging straight from the ground. Good drought and salt tolerance makes them well adapted for planting along the seashore with some protection.

Pests and Diseases

There appears to be no major pest or disease problems.


Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.


1. This document is FPS133, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FPS133

Date: 2019-04-15

Related Topics

Organism ID


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman