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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Pindo Palm (Butia capitata)

By Staff | Jun 17, 2015

Pindo Palm (Butia capitata) Anita Force Marshall

First impression: Dramatic, arched, feathery gray-greenish fronds, with a dimensional palm with a slightly different light gray color. Super-sized pinnate fronds (palm leaves) are attached to thick stems that are armed (barbs) and emerge from a rough crown shaft.

The trunk is wide in diameter and booted in a cement gray color. A solitary palm whose fruit reminds me of a tasty Pindo Jelly I’ve enjoyed on many biscuits. You might also experience lots of yummy memories and recollections looking at this palm. We have oodles of flowers that will soon turn to fruits at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Pindo Palms are one of 12 species in the Butia genus that hail from South America. The trunks are substantial, with large diameters and have a coarse texture. This texture is a result of old frond bases that remain on the trunk. The arched pinnate fronds are curve-like and about 10 inches long. Be careful, these fronds are barbed and painful. The crown shaft is rough, dark gray and jagged. Palms usually have rough or smooth crown shafts. The smooth shafts are self cleaning, meaning the non-productive aka brown fronds fall off when they are no longer needed by the palm. Productive fronds are green and much needed by all palms to remain healthy. Rough shafts hold on to the brown fronds longer and are usually pruned off for aesthetics.

Large fragrant inflorescences sprout of buttery colored flowers occur at the base of the crown shaft. Their sequence is flower, fruit and then seeds. Fruits are sunshine yellow to tangerine orange, one inch round and great for jellies, wine and flavorings. They can be pruned away with no damage to the palm.

But you may want to try cooking up some lip-smacking good jelly. I have tried this jelly recipe and it is oh so good! The ingredients are: One gallon of fruit, cup of water, cheesecloth, sugar, liquid pectin. Cook fruit with a cup of water in a large pot for a few hours on simmer. Leave the pot on the stove overnight, and drain the fruit through four layers of cheesecloth first thing in the morning. This may take a few hours. Using the juice you got from draining the fruit, add 3 3/4 cup sugar and bring to a rolling boil. Add about 1/4 cup liquid pectin. Complete by sealing up your jelly!

Pindo Palm (Butia capitata) Anita Force Marshall

Pindos grow moderately slow to 20 feet in height, which means this is a great palm to visually enjoy in your garden. They are moderately salt tolerant and can thrive in a broad range of soil conditions. Guess what, all palms have that natural resistance to survive hurricanes, a great feature for our area. Remember palms that are taken care of correctly can live hundreds of years. With lots of love and proper care, they can survive century to century and outlive most of us.

Pros:

* Dramatic palm.

* Does well in sandy soil.

* Likes full sun.

Pindo Palm (Butia capitata) Anita Force Marshall

* Can take wet feet.

* Mild salt tolerance.

* Great for tropical look in a garden.

* Survivor in a hurricane.

* Make extra money from jelly sales.

* Somewhat cold tolerant.

* Drought tolerant.

Cons:

* Berries can be messy.

* Slow grower.

* Armed fronds can be painful.

* Wildlife and neighbors may steal your berries.

* Wide dimension.

* Non-native.

Conclusion: Pindo Palm, what winner! Gorgeous in the garden and yummy in the kitchen, count all the flowers, they will soon be berries, so get those jelly jars ready.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!