Part of the Arecaceae (Palm) family, members of the Butia genus are called
"feather" palms and consist of 22 species. Butia odorata is the most cold-hardy.
Form: Palm tree.
Lifespan: About 80 years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Slow.
Mature Size: 15-20' high and 10-15' wide.
Flowers: Pale yellow to reddish. Separate male and female flowers on
long stalks from a central bundle.
Years before fruiting: 8-10.
Fruit: Yellow-orange, round to oval, 1" diameter, with a single
seed, fibrous flesh, sweet-tart mixed fruit taste similar to apricot,
pineapple and banana. Hangs in large sprays. Quality of fruit varies from
plant to plant.
Months for fruit to ripen: 3-4.
Storage after harvest: Refrigerate up to one week.
Leaves: Blue-green, long, arching, v-shaped central stalk with long, narrow
leaflets growing along both edges.
Stems: Trunk is 1' - 1.5' in diameter. Leaf stems have thorns.
Roots: Not invasive. Susceptible to root rot in moist soil.
Wildlife: Attracts insects, fruit attracts mammals.
Toxic / Danger: Thorny leaf stems.
Origin: Central-southern Brazil and adjacent areas of Uruguay and Argentina.
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8b-10. Hardy to 15°F.
Sunset climate zones: 8-9 and 11-24.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun. Part shade tolerated in hot climates.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Water after becoming established: Deep water monthly. Additional water speeds growth.
Soil: Very well drained, tolerant of soil types otherwise, but very alkaline
soil may result in micronutrient deficiencies. Salt tolerant.
Fertilize: Fertilization speeds growth but it is mainly used in case of nutrient deficiency.
Look for 10-5-10 to 20-5-20 (N-P-K) fertilizer that also includes the micronutrients
magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn) and iron (Fe).
Apply mid-spring after one year in the ground. Do not over-fertilize.
Apply under the canopy but away from the trunk.
Prune: Remove lower leaves when they become untidy.
Litter: Fruit if not harvested.
Propagation: Dried seed. Germination time can take up to 6 months.
Uses: Ornamental, edible fruit used to make jelly.
Formerly known as Butia capitata. Individual specimens are highly variable in appearance,
possibly due to cross-breeding with other palm species. They are very wind tolerant.
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