From California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
Fact Sheets

Jelly Palm

Butia capitata

Common Names
: Jelly Palm, Pindo Palm, Wine Palm

Related Species: Yatay Palm (Butia yatay).

Origin: 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 world.

Adaptation: 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 specimens.


Growth 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.

Foliage: 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.

Flowers: 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.

Fruit: 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 pineapple-banana mixture.


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.

Fertilizing: 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.

Harvest: 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.

Further Reading
American Horticultural Society. Cultivated palms. Washington, 1960.
Blombery, 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 University Press,1995.
Meerow, Alan W. Betrock's guide to landscape palms. Hollywood, FL, Betrock Information Systems, 1994.
© 1996, California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.

"Jelly Palm." 1997. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.

Published 16 Jan. 2014. Last Update 22 Apr. 2014 LR
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