Well, we’re off. I’ll be in Havana and Viñales, Cuba, until January 24. I promise to bring back photos, stories, and tales of Cuban gardens. Until then, here’s an excerpt from the Havana Moon Handbook on the royal palm, Rostonea regia:
The indisputable symbol of Cuba is the majestic royal palm, which grows singly or in great elegant clumps and graces the Cuban capital at every turn. Its smooth gray trunk, which can tower 25 meters, resembles a great marble column with a curious bulge near the top. Long leaves droop sinuously from the explosive top, blossoming afresh with each new moon.
Even found on the national emblem and protected by law, the royal palm is as useful as it is stately. Its fronds make good thatch, and the thick green base of the fronds, being waterproof, also makes an excellent roof or siding material. The trunk itself makes excellent timber. Bees favour palm honey; and pigs seem to like the seeds, which are used for pig feed. Humans devour the delicious, succulent palm-heart from the centre of the trunk. And birds love its black fruit and carry the seeds all over the country.