Scientific name: Butia capitata
Common names: Pindo Palm, Jelly Palm and Wine Palm.
One of the most popular palms in the world because of its stunning appearance, cold hardiness and bright yellow fruit that can be made into jelly. Its graceful appearances with blue-green fronds make it great for poolside plantings in the ground or in containers. It can live up to 80 years.
Habit: It has a heavy gray trunk covered with old leaf bases unless they are trimmed away. Trunk is around 15 ft. tall and 1-1.5 ft. in diameter. Beautiful arching leaves emerge right from the trunk. Leaves are pinnate, or feather-like, ranging in color from green to bluish gray, about 5-10 ft. long, with 80-150 leaflets that are about 20-26 inches long. They are supported by 3-4 ft. long petioles that have spines along both edges.
At the end of the spring it produces small yellow to orange-red flowers that grow in clusters on large 3-4 ft. long inflorescence. The flowers are monoecious, individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant. They are pollinated is by insects and wind.
Flowers are followed by bright orange fruits, also known as “pindo dates” that hang in large clusters from the tree. Dates are round to oval-shaped, juicy, edible, about 1 inch in diameter. Fruits reach their maturity in the summer and can be eaten fresh and pureed, or used to make jams as well as wine. You can also make jelly, hence the name Jelly Palm. They can be stored for about one week in the refrigerator. It can get very messy when ripe fruits fall to the ground.
Culture: Partial shade to full sun. Can tolerate cold down to 5°F. It is great for growing in USDA Zones 7 (5 to 10°F) to 11 (above 40°F). Growth rate is slow to moderate. It can slowly grow up to 10 – 20 ft. and 10-15 ft. wide, but usually is not taller than 15 ft. with a spread of 10 ft. Pindo Palm is tolerate of salt water, droughts and is tough enough to deal with most weather stresses when mature. It also can grow in clay or sandy soils. It needs plenty of water until established in the first 2 years, but after that only little to moderate watering is needed. Low to moderate maintenance. Fertilize with organic fertilizer twice a year. Propagated by seeds. It takes many months for germination to take place. It is native to Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.
Uses: Specimen for indoor and outdoor use.
Notes: There is a cool book written by David A. Francko - Palms Won’t Grow Here and Other Myths: Warm-Climate Plants for Cooler Areas. It goes into the details on how you can grow cold hardy palms in zones 7, 6 and even 5.
Problems: Insects and Diseases: The Pindo Palm usually is not going to cause you any troubles. Palm leaf skeletonizer, scale, and micronutrient deficiencies are occasional problems for Pindo Palm. There are no major diseases that you need to be afraid of. The Pindo Palm can get a root rot if the soil is kept too moist and well drained.