A medium-size palm whose deeply divided leaves are fan-shaped, showy green above, and silvery gray beneath. The unarmed leaf stalks may be three feet long and flexible. The flowers are very small, ivory-white, and fragrant. The fruit is red, turning purple or black when ripe.
As with most palms, the heart is edible, as are the fruits. Oil from the seeds is used in Haiti to renew the sense of smell. Leaves are used to make brooms. The stems are hard and are used to make pilings in saltwater for fences. Leaves are used to thatch houses and to make baskets, ropes, twines, and hats.