Pindo Palm : Butia capitata


Kingdom : Plantae
   Phylum : Anthophyta (Magnoliophyta)
          Class : Monocotyledones (Liliopsida)
               Order : Palmales
                    Family : Arecaceae(Palmae) Palm family
                         Genus : Butia
                              Species : Butia capitata (Mart.)Brcc.
    Common name: Pindo palm, jelly palm

Habitat:

In its native range, B. capitata inhabits grasslands, dry woodlands and savannahs of South America.
Pindo palm, Photo by David ByresIn cultivation, it will grow in full sun to moderate shade and is very drought tolerant. It is also tolerates some salt in the soil. The pindo palm can be successfully grown in beach habitats if protected behind dunes. Container plantings are also common.


Distribution:

Native to Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uraguay.

Cultivated as a landscape plant commonly in northern Florida, the Gulf and Atlantic coastal regions of Southeastern United States. It is found in Texas, Nevada, Arizona and is also occasionally grown as far north as North Carolina, Washington, D.C..

On the western coast is grown as far north as northern California, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.


Description:

Height generally 12-15 feet (rarely 20 feet), diameter of trunk 1 to 1.5 feet, leaves light green to bluish gray, 5-10 feet long, petiole of leaf 2-4 feet with spines along both edges, pinnately compound, arch and recurve toward the ground from the top of the trunk, leaf spread 10-15 feet; old leaf stalks may persist for several years on the trunk (called boots).Inflorescence 4-5 feet long, arising from the axil of the older leaves, subtended by woody spathe, 50-100 flowering branches per inflorescence.
Pindo flower, Photo by David Byres Flowers white to yellow or reddish; unisexual, in groups of three, 2 male flowers and one female flower, 3 petals, 3 sepals, 6 stamens in male flowers. Pindo Unripe fruit. Photo by David Byres
Fruits light orange to brownish red, oval, approximately 1.4 inches long, fleshy cover with relatively large single seed per fruit. (Ripe fruits can be used to make jelly hence the common name of jelly palm.) Life span approximately 80 years.
Ripe fruit. Photo by David Byres Usage:

Popular landscaping plant which tolerates colder conditions than most species of palms. The fleshy fruits are eaten by wildlife.

The fruits may be harvested and the fleshy fruit walls used to make jelly.
The seeds (inside the fleshy fruit) may be roasted, ground and used as a coffee substitute.
Pindo palm in foreground. Photo by David Byres
Propagation:

Plants are grown from seeds which are often found under mature trees and may even germinate in the boots of mature trees.