What is a Pindo Palm?

Sara Schmidt

The Pindo palm is a hardy tropical tree. It features sprawling, feathery pinnate leaves and a thick, chunky trunk. This palm tree is also known as the Butia capitata, wine palm, or jelly palm.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina are all countries where this plant can be found naturally. Jelly palms can grow up to 15 feet (4.7 m) in height. Due to their bulky, stout trunks, the trees should be spaced well apart to maintain optimal growing conditions. A spacing of 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 m) is considered sufficient in most areas.

Graceful, silvery green leaves droop down from the plants. These are often arranged in a fountain-like display. When the palm's flowers bloom, they offer a bright magenta hue. Blooming typically occurs during the late spring or early summer months. The trees grow best in tropical or desert conditions. They can, however, survive colder conditions up to 0° Fahrenheit (-17° C).

Propagation of the Pindo palm is typically done through seeding. Most soils can be used to grow the tree. Growth is slow, and as leaves of the Pindo palm die, their limbs grow into the tree as attachments, helping it to form a bulkier trunk. As the tree continues to grow, these attachments can fall off, forming a smoother texture.

Requiring little to no watering, Pindo palm trees are considered strong, drought resistant perennial plants. Pindo palms that are grown in moist conditions, however, do tend to grow to a fuller height than those kept in very dry areas. When provided with partial shade, these palm trees may grow larger than when grown in full sunlight as well.

Though not native to the United States, the Pindo palm is often grown in the American South. It is often utilized as an accent for motels, poolsides, and tourist attractions. Many establishments prefer to grow the tree as a container plant to control its size. One of the hardiest of all palm trees, the Pindo is considered very adaptable, and can survive in widely variable environments.

Pindo palm trees are often used as homes for various tropical birds. Grazing animals, such as deer, are not attracted to the thick spiky trunks of these palm plants. An edible fruit also grows from the tree. These orange date-like fruits, sometimes referred to as Pindo dates, are often made into jelly, providing the Pindo palm with one of its most popular nicknames.

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