This palm has a short thick fleshy trunk covered with old leaf bases. The trunk collects water that is used during drought. The Cardboard Palm has pinnate, feathery-like, leaves, which grow from the center of the trunk reaching 3-4ft long.
Leaves are olive green, overlapping, with a fuzzy surface that looks like they are made of plastic. They feel like cardboard to the touch, hence its name. The circular crowns of leaves looks like a cross between fern and palm tree. They form a symmetrical rosette growing upright in full sun and horizontal in shade. Thick leaves are covered with thick oval leaflets, which are about 5 inches long and 1 inch wide.