Cuba’s National Tree
The royal palm (Roystonea regia) is the national tree of Cuba. It is native to the island and is such a characteristic symbol of its scenery that it has become the emblematic representation of the country, appearing, solitary and majestic, in one of the fields of the national seal.
And, nevertheless, besides its symbolic and aesthetic power, it is a very utilitarian tree. Peasants who are known as pollards climb up to its top to cut off the fruit (palm nuts) shown in big clusters on top of the palm being an exceptional food for pigs. The clusters, dry and free of fruit are used as domestic brooms. The tender shoots and hearts (palm hearts) are used as food in soups and salads and it was a very useful food staple for the Cuban Army of Liberation during the Independence War. Its fronds are used by peasants to roof their rustic houses and to cover the tobacco plants in the tobacco farms. The widened bases of the fronds are used to store tobacco in branches and also to form the walls of peasants houses. Also the hard exterior of the trunk, made into boards, is used to build “corrals”, bridges over creeks, etc.
The royal palm, which flowers and bears fruit all year around, form those picturesque palm groves that you can see throughout all the insular geography. But even then, forming those beautiful and characteristic groups, each of them, slender and proud, look as if they are wrapped in a unique and different solitude.
Translated by the staff of Círculo Güinero de Los Ángeles
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