“Carnauba Wax Palm”
Natural Habitat: Naturally found in low-lying seasonally flooded areas along rivers and lakes of northeastern Brazil. It can also be found planted on large Brazilian farms where the palms are grown for the wax that is harvested off the leaves.
Description: A tall solitary palm that can reach heights over 50 feet tall in habitat, but tends to grow much shorter in cultivation usually reaching heights around 30 feet tall. The C. prunifera is similar in appearance to the more common Copernicia alba. The palms most distinguishable trait of this palm is the powdery white wax that covers the leaves. The large deeply segmented fan leaves can be variable in color, ranging from yellowish green to greenish-blue, depending on leaf color and the amount of wax that develops. The trunk is usually covered with old gray leaf bases that spiral as they run up the trunk. As the palms ages the oldest bases may begin to fall off around the middle of the trunk leaving behind a smooth gray trunk.
The wax that grows on the leaves can be harvested by carefully scarping it off. In Brazil, companies use the wax to make a wide variety of products including polishes and makeup.
Environment: The C. prunifera enjoys a sunny area where it can get regular moisture. Since the petioles are armed with dangerous teeth it should be planted with away from walk ways or high traffic areas. A true water lover, the C. prunifera benefits from heavy watering and can be planted in low areas that commonly flood. Once established the C. prunifera can be drought tolerant. It is also cold hardy to the high 20’s and can survive mild frosts and freezes with minimal damage. Zones 9b-11.