Butia capitata

Common name

jelly palm, pindo palm


Stem: 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 on the abaxial surface, are regularly arranged and form a V-shape. Flowers and fruit: A woody, beaked spathe covers the meter-long inflorescence which is branched once. Staminate and pistillate flowers are produced on the same inflorescence and may be reddish to yellow in color. Fruits are up to 2.5 cm long and yellow or orange when ripe.

Diagnostic features

Field: Blue-green or gray-green pinnate leaves on a twisting rachis, teeth along the petiole margin and a stem clothed with old leaf bases or ringed with leaf scars.

Lab: Large brownish ramenta are visible in the field at the base of leaflets on the abaxial surface, but they may be examined more closely in the lab.

May be confused with

Other Butia species are similar, but much less common in our region. Hybrids are also possible for this species.


Native to subtropical southern South America (Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina)

Additional comments

This is one of the more cold hardy palms and may be seen growing in more northern localities in the United States.

Scientific name

Butia capitata (Mart.) Becc.




Calappa capitata ( Mart. ) Kuntze

Cocos capitata Mart.

Cocos elegantissima Chabaud

Cocos erythrospatha Chabaud

Cocos odorata Barb. Rodr.

Cocos pulposa Barb. Rodr.

Syagrus capitata ( Mart. ) Glassman

Last Updated May 2014