From California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
© 1996, California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
Butia capitata Becc.
Names: Jelly Palm, Pindo Palm, Wine Palm
Related Species: Yatay Palm (Butia yatay).
Jelly palms are native to central-southern Brazil and adjacent areas of
Uruguay and Argentina. Today they are widely grown in many parts of the
jelly palm is the hardiest feather-leafed palm currently in wide
cultivation, withstanding low temperatures of at least 15° F (USDA
Zones 8B-10B). They grow well in central and northern California,
Florida and the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts into the Carolinas. Their
small size and slow growth habit make jelly palms good container
Habit: The trees are slow-growing to about 15 feet with a canopy of
40-50 leaves. The trunk is heavy and patterned with stubs of old
leaves. Jelly palms vary considerably in nature, the forms differing in
ultimate height, trunk thickness, leaf color and amount of arching, and
fruit color and taste. Their neat, compact growth makes them very
attractive landscape features. They are widely used as specimen trees
in California and northern Florida, where they also function well in
median and avenue plantings. The trees very wind-tolerant.
The arching, blue-green, 4-6 foot, pinnate leaves are crowded with many
upward-pointing leaflets that form a pronounced V-shape. The petiole is
armed with stout, sharp teeth along the margin. The leaflets are about
2-1/2 feet long and 1 inch wide.
Numerous, very small creamy yellow to reddish flowers are borne on
once-branched, 3-4 ft. long inflorescences bearing separate male and
female flowers. Pollination is by wind and insects.
The one-inch, yellow to orange-colored fruits are round to oval-shaped,
and hang in large sprays from the tree. Each fruit contains a single
seed. The sweet-tart flavor is reminiscent of both apricots and a
Location: Jelly palms do best in a sunny location but will take some shade. Wind is no problem because of their high tolerance to it.
Soil: The trees are widely adaptable to most soil conditions and have a moderate salt tolerance.
Irrigation: Jelly palms are highly drought-tolerant, but appreciate an occasional watering in summer-dry areas.
The trees seem to thrive with little or no fertilizing, although they
respond to a spring fertilizing with a complete fertilizer. Another
light fertilizing in mid-summer is also helpful.
Pruning: The only pruning necessary is the removal of lower leaves as they become untidy looking.
Propagation: Propagation is from seed, which germinate in six months or more. Germination is faster after dry storage.
Pests and Diseases:
The major pest problem is scale. Major disease or physiological
problems are ganoderma, stigmina leaf spot, graphiola false smut and
phytophthora bud rot.
Jelly palm fruits are picked as they ripen. If whole bunches are
harvested, they tend to ripen all at once. The fruits can be eaten
fresh and pureed, or used to make an excellent jelly as well as wine.
They can be stored for about a
week under refrigeration.
American Horticultural Society. Cultivated palms. Washington, 1960.
Alec M. and Tony Rodd. Palms, an informative, practical guide to palms
of the world, their cultivation, care, and landscape use. London, Angus
& Robertson, 1982.
Henderson, Andrew, Gloria Galeano, and
Rodrigo Bernal. Field guide to the palms of the Americas. Princeton
Meerow, Alan W. Betrock's guide to landscape palms. Hollywood, FL, Betrock Information Systems, 1994.