Bottle palm has a large swollen (sometimes bizarrely so) trunk. It is a myth that the trunk is a means by which the palm stores water. Bottle palms have only four to six leaves open at any time. The leaves of young palms have a red or orange tint, but a deep green is assumed at maturity. The flowers of the palm arise from under the crownshaft.
This species is often confused with its relative, the Spindle Palm, which also has a swollen trunk. However the Spindle palm’s trunk swells in the middle (resembling the shape of a spindle), whereas the trunk of the Bottle palm swells from near the base and tapers further up. Its inflorescence branches in 4 orders, and its 2.5 cm fruits can be orange or black. The trunk of both species becomes more and more slender as the palm ages.
Bottle palms are very cold sensitive and are killed at 0 °C (32 °F) or colder for any appreciable length of time. They may survive a brief, light frost, but will have foliage damage. Only southern Florida and Hawaii provide safe locations in the USA to grow Bottle Palm, although mature flowering specimens may be occasionally be seen in favored microclimates around Cape Canaveral and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater in coastal central Florida. It makes a fine container-grown palm in other locations as long as it is protected from the cold and not overwatered.