The Jelly Palm Tree

Butia capitata

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This palm tree is a species of the genus Butia of the family of palms (Arecaceae). It inhabits the northeast of South America.

This palm tree is distributed endemically in the centre-east of Brazil, being an endemism of the phytogeographic province of the closed state of Goiás, Bahia and Minas Gerais.

B. capitata is a solitary palm, measuring 4 to 5 metres high. The trunk has a diameter of 20 to 30 cm, and occasionally it can be found underground. Each crown has 11 to 20 pinnate and arched leaves, which measure from 80 to 170 cm. in length and are glaucous in colour. They are subdivided into 49 to 53 leaflets on both sides, which are arranged forming a “V”.

Peduncular bract of glaucous colour and from 50 to 100 cm. in length. Flowers on a midrib ranging from 33 to 55 cm. in length, with 100 floriferous branches from 8 to 30 cm. in length. The ripe fruit is yellow, oblong in shape; inside it has a dense and pulpy fibre.

The generic name Butia comes from the vernacular name given in Brazil to members of this genre. The specific term “capitata” comes from Latin, where it means ‘with a head’, because of the leafy crown.

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