Jelly Palm - Butia odorata (formerly capitata)
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Edible Palms

Butia odorata older individual in the landscape with smoother stem and leaf scars rings
Fig. 1 
B. odorata older individual in the landscape with smoother stem and leaf scars rings

Butia odorata tree
Fig. 2 
B. odorara tree

Butia odorata leaflet with ramenta visible on the underside (closer view)
Fig. 3 
B. odorara leaflet with ramenta visible on the underside (closer view)

Ramenta visible on the underside
Fig. 4 
Ramenta visible on the underside

Butia odorata leaf
Fig. 5 
B. odorara leaves

Butia odorata stem
Fig. 6 
B. odorara stem

Butia odoratayoung individual in the landscape with persistent leaf bases and twisted, arching leaves
Fig. 7 
B. odorara young individual in the landscape with persistent leaf bases and twisted, arching leaves

Butia odorata in container
Fig. 8 
B. odorara in container

Butia odorata with persistent leaf bases
Fig. 9 
B. odorara with persistent leaf bases

Butia odorata stem with leaf scars
Fig. 10 
B. odorara stem with leaf scars

Butia odorata trunk
Fig. 11 
B. odorara trunk

Butia odorata fruit stalks
Fig. 12 
B. odorara fruit stalks

Butia odorata arching leaf
Fig. 13 
B. odorara arching leaf, inflorescence and fruit

Butia odorata beaked, woody spathe previously covering inflorescence
Fig. 14
B. odorara beaked, woody spathe previously covering inflorescence

Butia odorata immature fruit
Fig. 15 
Bodorara immature fruit

Butia odorata Ripe Fruit
Fig. 16 
B. odorara Ripe Fruit

Ripe Fruit of Butia odorata
Fig. 17 
Ripe fruit of B. odorara

Jelly Palm fruit
Fig. 18
Jelly Palm fruit

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Edible Palms

Scientific name
Butia odorata (Barb.Rodr.) Noblick , formerly capitata (Mart.) Becc.
BEW-tee-uh oh-dohr-AH-tah
Common names
Pindo Palm, Wine Palm, Jelly Palm
B. capitata var. elegantissima (Chabaud) Becc.; B. capitata var. erythrospatha (Chabaud) Becc.; B. capitata var. lilaceiflora (Chabaud) Becc.; B. capitata var. nehrlingiana (Abbott ex Nehrl.) L.H.Bailey; B. capitata var. odorata (Barb.Rodr.) Becc.; B. capitata var. pulposa (Barb.Rodr.) Becc.; B. capitata var. rubra Mattos; B. capitata var. strictior L.H.Bailey; B. capitata var. subglobosa Becc.; B. capitata var. virescens Becc.; B. capitata subsp. yatay (Mart.) Herter 4
Yatay Palm (B. yatay), Queen Palm (Zyagrus romanzoffiana)
Native to central-southern Brazil and adjacent areas of Uruguay and Argentina
USDA hardiness zones
8B-10B; performance is best above 10B it is reputedly hardy into the Carolinas 5
Plant as an atractive specimen or in groups; suitable for planting under power lines; produces tasty fruit
Slow-growing to about 15-20 ft (4.5-6m)
10-15 ft (3-4.5 m)
Canopy of 40-50 leaves; symmetrical, open
Growth rate
Up to 80 years
Single-trunked; heavy, stocky; branches don’t droop; not showy; thorns
Pruning requirement
Prune diseased, damaged or drying fronds 1 ;remove flower stalks to avoid messy cleanups
Arching, blue-green, 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8m), pinnate leaves are crowded with many upward-pointing leaflets that form a pronounced V-shape; petiole is armed with stout, sharp teeth along the margin; leaflets are about 2-1/2 ft (50cm) long and 1 in. (2.5cm) wide 3
Numerous, very small creamy yellow to reddish flowers are borne on once-branched, 3-4 ft (1m); long inflorescences bearing separate male and female flowers 3
The 1 in. (2.5cm), 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. 3
Light requirement
Full sun to moderate shade (the fronds grow longer in shady situations, giving the palm a more graceful aspect than those grown in full sun 6
Soil tolerances
Likes sandy soil, but is adaptable to clay and loam both slightly alkaline and acidic
PH preference
Acidic to alkaline
Drought tolerance
Drought tolerant
Soil salt tolerance
It is moderately salt tolerant, but does a lot better inland then it does on the coast
Wind salt tolerance
Intolerant of salt spray
Cold tolerance
Can withstand low temperatures of at least 15°F (-9°C)
The jelly palm is the hardiest feather-leafed palm currently in wide cultivation
Wind Resistance
The trees are very wind-tolerant
Plant spacing
Plant 3-4 m (10-13ft) apart as a street tree and they can be planted beneath power lines due to slow growth and small size
Roots are not a problem
Invasive potential *
Not a problem species (un-documented)
Pest resistance
Palm leaf skeletonizer, scale, and micronutrient deficiencies (especially Mn and Fe) are occasional problems
Known hazard
Spiny; produces a large quantity of fruit, which can be a nuisance, as ripening fruit attracts wasps and other insects 6


Reading Material

Jelly Palm from the California Rare Fruit Growers Fact Sheets
Jelly Palm Floridata
Pindo Palm: Jelly, Wine and Good Eats by D. Green from
Pindo Palm Publication from the University of Florida (archived) pdf
Butia odorata: Pindo Palm from the University of Florida pdf

Native to the grasslands, and dry woodlands and savannahs o central-southern Brazil and contiguous Argentina and Uruguay 5

Solitary, erect, to 6 m tall and 50 cm in diameter, covered with old, woody leaf bases or ridged with leaf scars. Leaves: Pinnate, reduplicate, with a twisting, arched rachis. The petiole is armed with spines along the margins; the linear, blue-green or gray-green leaflets, with
large brownish ramenta (Fig. 3) on the abaxial surface, are regularly arranged and form a V-shape. 2 
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. 3

A woody, beaked spathe covers the meter-long inflorescence (Fig. 14) which is branched once. Staminate and pistillate flowers are produced on the same inflorescence and may be reddish to yellow in color. 2

This palm produces a large quantity of fruit, which can be a nuisance, as ripening fruit attracts wasps and other insects. Remove flower stalks to avoid messy cleanups. The pindo fruits are rather tasty, but you probably don't need 50 pounds of them! 2

Pindo palms can hybridize with the related queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana). The offspring, known as mule palms (xButiagrus nabonnandii), are popular for their cold hardiness, larger size, and dark green foliage. 7

Jelly palm fruits are picked as they ripen. If whole bunches are harvested, they tend to ripen all at once. 3

Pollination is by wind and insects

Fresh seeds germinate quickly within a month of being planted and the seedlings are attractive. Young palms are often found under palms that have been allowed to produce fruit. It is not unusual to see offspring growing in the old leaf boots of a mature tree.

Good drainage is also important. The root system of this species is very sensitive and good sized specimen is extremely difficult to successfully dig and transplant to another location. The fruit, maturing in summer, can be messy on side-walks or patios, so you may want to plant 3 metres (10 ft) away from the walk or patio. 1

Prune diseased, damaged or drying fronds, but do not prune if the frond still has some green color. Palms recycle nutrients from dead or dying fronds and use them for healthier fronds. Palms only have a set number of new leaves that can sprout and grow per year and removing fronds will not increase that number. If you cut off more than what will grow annually, you could be left with a pretty bare and bald Palm. 1

To prevent or correct nutrient deficiencies (potassium and manganese) in pindo palms, 3 (4 in south Florida) applications per year of a controlled release 8N-2P2O5-12K2O-4-Mg plus micronutrients fertilizer are recommended. 7
Specimens raised in dry and/or infertile soils tend to be smaller in stature with smaller leaves. 8

Drought tolerant, it thrives in fairly dry and hot climates, but enjoy also rainy climates and proved to tolerate a wide variety of conditions. In areas where summer rain is prevalent, it seems to put on rapid growth with this ample water, but it does not want to sit in continually wet, mucky soil. The roots and lower trunk can rot if soil is kept too moist.

The major pest problem is scale

Major disease or physiological problems are ganoderma, stigmina leaf spot, graphiola false smut and phytophthora bud rot. 5

Food Uses
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; the seeds (inside the fleshy fruit) may be roasted, ground and used as a coffee substitute.  3
The best quality pindo fruits are very sweet with a flavor some find reminescent of a pineapple/banana mixture. 5

Other Uses
Either as a single specimen or in groups, this is a strikingly beautiful species. Its very neat appearance and stature makes it perfect near highways and used to accent residential landscapes.
Culture in containers is possible although growth rates are slower. A bright patio will provide an excellent environment for young specimens which can eventually be planted in a sunny location. 1


Pindo palm is the hardiest feather-leafed palm currently in wide cultivation. It is used throughout the northern half of Florida as a specimen plant, funtionning well in median and even avenue plantings, despite its relatively small Stature. 5

Butia capitata distribution map
Fig. 19  
B. capitata
distribution Map

Further Reading
Jelly Palm
from Identifying Commonly Cultivated Palms ext. link
Butia Palm Fruit jelly from the National Center for Home Food Preservation ext. link
Validation of the Name Butia odorata from the Montgomery Botanical Center, Miami, Fl. pdf
Butia odorata Botanical Art

List of Growers and Vendors

1 "Butia capitata". Text available under a CC-BY-SA Creative Commons Attribution License. LLIFLE The Encyclopedia of Palm & Cycads. 2005. Web. 17 Jan. 2014.
2 Anderson, P.J. "Butia capitata". Identifying Commonly Cultivated Palms, a Resource for Pests and Diseases of Cultivated Palms. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service, Division of Plant Industry and Identification Technology Program, CPHST, PPQ, APHIS, USDA; Fort Collins, CO. 2011. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.
3 "Jelly Palm". Fact Sheet. 1998. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.
4 "Butia capitata (Mart.) Becc.." Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
5 Merrow, Alan W. "Butia Capitata." p. 15. Bedrock' Guide to Landscape Palms. Bedrock Information Systems, Hollywood, Florida. 2004. Print.
6 Christman, Steve. "Butia Capitata." Floridata Plant Encyclopedia. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.
Broschat, Timothy K. "Butia odorata: Pindo Palm." This document is ENH264, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Publication date Nov. 1993. Reviewed 20 Feb. 2017. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.
8 "Butia odorata." Web. 26 Nov. 2015.


Fig. 1,3,4,7,13,14,16 Anderson, P.J. Butia capitata. 2011. Identifying Commonly Cultivated Palms.Web. 25 Mar. 2014.
Fig. 2,5,6,8,11,12,15 M. Ritter, W. Mark and J. Reimer. Butia capitata Tree Record. 1995-2015. Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.
Fig. 17 Moxfyre. Ripe fruit of Butia capitata on the vine. 2011. 24 Mar. 2014.
Fig. 18 Praline3001. Jelly palm fruit. 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2015.
Fig. 19 Butia capitata Distribution Map. N.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2015.

UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas

Published 12 Apr. 2014 LR. Last update to 25 Apr. 2017 LR
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