Butia capitata – Pindo or Jelly Palm

This handsome fellow is Butia capitata commonly known as the Pindo or Jelly Palm.  It is classified as a feather palm, palms with pinnate leaves, and is considered the most hardy of this group, it can tolerate -10C and hardly turned a frond after last years freeze.   Originating in South America where it inhabits dry woodland, grassland and savannah, where it ultimately, although slowly, reaches a height of 20ft.  It varies in form considerably, some plants hold their fronds upright whilst others are arching.  This is thought be a combination of both where a specific plant is positioned, the leaves grow longer in full sun, and the fact that it hybridises easily and therefore it may not be who it purports to be. Our specimen has grey green leaves that elegantly curl backwards and it is planted on the Med Bed where it gets as much sun as we can muster.  It is however but a baby and is therefore yet to form a trunk, neither has it produced flowers or fruit.    When they come, and they will, the yellow flowers are held in 5ft panicles which later bear yellow-orange edible fruit called pindo dates.  The fruit apparently starts off tasting like apple and ripens to a more tropical fruit flavour.  It is fibrous so really needs processing before eating and therefore is used to make jam and jelly (hence Jelly Palm) but also sorbet and wine.  Maybe this year will be the year.  I bet no one else at the Village Show will have Jelly Palm Jelly!

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