What Is Butia?

Dee S.
Dee S.

Butia is the genus name for nine different palm species. They are most commonly found in South America, but because of their hardiness against drought and cold, they also may be found in gardens and landscaping worldwide. They vary in height, from small, stemless species to taller species, but most of them produce an abundance of edible fruit. In general, their leaves are feather-like, though some have sharp spines as well.

Butia are most commonly found in South America.
Butia are most commonly found in South America.

Found in Paraguay, B. campicola is one of the smallest species in the Butia genus. In most cases, these palms will only reach 16 inches (about 40.64 cm) in height. Like all the species, this palm is resistant to drought and frost. Its bluish green leaves are spineless, and it usually produces brown-colored fruit. B. yatay, on the other hand, is thought to be the tallest of the Butia palm species. It is native to Argentina and will grow to heights of about 25 to 40 feet (7.6 to 12 .2 m).

Among the most popular species in the genus is B. capitata. This palm, also called the Pindo palm, is found in Brazil and Uruguay. It has been cultivated across the globe and is often seen in landscaping plans everywhere from the southern part of the United States to Canada and England. It will usually grow anywhere from 3 to 19 feet (about 0.91 to 5.8 m) in height. Its orange-colored fruit is edible and is often made into jelly or jam, but is rarely eaten raw.

Another palm in the genus Butia that produces edible fruit is B. eriospatha, or the Wooly Jelly palm. It produces red fruit that can be eaten raw or made into jelly. The fruit is often used to make an alcoholic beverage as well. This species reportedly grows the fastest and is the most hardy of all of the Butia palms.

Many of the various species of palms in the genus Butia are becoming rare in the wild, particularly in their countries of origin. These palms grow best in the grasslands of South America. The grasslands are rarely protected and are often used for agricultural purposes. As a result, the native palms are stripped from the land, and regrowth is prevented. While some species of the palms are endangered, others have been cultivated. Even the cultivated species, however, are found in the wild in limited quantities.

Dee S.
Dee S.

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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