Ajuntament de Barcelona

Butia capitata

Mossèn Costa i Llobera Garden

    Catalan name: 
    Spanish name: 
    Palmera de la jalea
    English name: 
    Jelly palm
    Botanical synonyms: 
    Coccos capitata
    Species characteristics
    Brazil, Uruguay and northern Argentina
    Well-drained soils in warn areas

    Palm tree 5-6 m tall, although it is not unusual that it can reach 8 m, with stipe (non branched trunk finishing into a bunch of leaves) 50-60 cm in diameter.

    The leaves are graceful, very curved pinnate palms, up to 2.5 m long. When they fall, they leave very characteristic pods on the stipe. The greyish-green leaflets are rigid but flexible and are inserted into the rachis on a same level but making a V. The petiole, about 60 cm, has prickles at the margins and fibers at the base.

    The yellow or reddish flowers appear into groups of three and into inflorescences 50-70 cm long (occasionally they can reach 1.3 m), sprouting from the bottom leaves.

    The fruits are spherical or elongated drupes, about 2.5 cm in diameter, which appear into bunches. Its colour goes from yellow or orangish to red. The abundant juicy pulp recovers the round dun seeds.

    Flowering time: 
    Late spring
    Fruiting time: 
    Uses and properties: 

    Dates from the Jelly Palm are edible and used usually to elaborate melmelades and jams, liqueurs, sweets and bittersweet sauces. An oil, edible as well, is obtained from its seeds.

    Used in gardening because of its rural appearance and the beauty of its leaves, of a blue tone.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name Butia capitata consists of the genus name Butia, coming from the Tupi term butiá, “fruit to make vinager”, used to name this palm (the word has passed to Portuguese), and the Latin term capitata, “with head”, in allusion to the crown density.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001

    CAÑIZO, José Antonio del. Palmeras. Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2002

    THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. Enciclopedia de plantas y flores. Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1996