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Useful Tropical Plants

Butia capitata

(Mart.) Becc.

Arecaceae


Butia capitata, in its strict sense, is native to eastern Brazil, north of Rio de Janeiro. It has often been treated in a wider sense to include the form found in southern Brazil and Uruguay. This southern form is now treated as a distinct species (Butia odorata (Barb.Rodr.) Noblick)[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]

+ Synonyms

Butia bonnetii Becc.

Butia leiospatha (Barb.Rodr.) Becc.

Calappa capitata (Mart.) Kuntze

Calappa leiospatha (Barb.Rodr.) Kuntze

Cocos capitata Mart.

Cocos leiospatha Barb.Rodr.

Syagrus capitata (Mart.) Glassman

Common Name: Jelly Palm

Butia capitata
Plant growing in the Jardin botanique de la Villa Thuret, Antibes Juan-les-Pins, Alpes-Maritimes,France. This is probably a photo of the closely related and very similar species, Butia odorata
Photograph by: Daderot
Public domain
Butia capitata Butia capitata Butia capitata Butia capitata Butia capitata

General Information

Butia capitata is a single-stemmed evergreen palm tree that grows slowly to reach an eventual height of around 8 metres tall[
335
Title
Perennial Edible Fruits of the Tropics : an Inventory
Publication
 
Author
Martin, F. W.; Campbell, C. W.; Rubertbe, R. M.
Publisher
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
A booklet giving terse details of almost 300 species of edible fruits, plus regional lists of Botanical and Common names for over 2,500 less well-known edible fruits of the tropics.
]. The unbranched stem can be 20 - 50cm in diameter; it is covered with persistent leaf bases; and topped by a crown of 18 - 32 large leaves[
416
Title
Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.; Bacher. L.; Lacerda. M.; Sartori. S.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora LTDA; Brazil.
Year
2000
ISBN
85-867174-24-0
Description
A superb book, giving information on several hundred fruit species. Each entry has a brief description of the plant and its uses, accompanied by one to many excellent quality photographs of the fruits.
,
768
Title
Field Guide to the Palms of the Americas
Publication
 
Author
Henderson A.; Galeano G.; Bernal R.
Publisher
Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-691-08537-4
Description
An excellent book, giving basic information on all the 550 species of palms native to the Americas that were known in 1995. Comprehensive information on the plants range and habitat, brief description, some uses and almost 250 photos.
].
The tree is harvested from the wild as a local source of food. It has been cultivated in many areas of the world, mainly as an ornamental but also sometimes for its edible fruit and seed[
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
768
Title
Field Guide to the Palms of the Americas
Publication
 
Author
Henderson A.; Galeano G.; Bernal R.
Publisher
Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-691-08537-4
Description
An excellent book, giving basic information on all the 550 species of palms native to the Americas that were known in 1995. Comprehensive information on the plants range and habitat, brief description, some uses and almost 250 photos.

Range

S. America - eastern Brazil (Bahia, Goiás, Minas Gerais).

Habitat

Grassland plains near the coast[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
]. Open areas and savannahs on sandy soils[
768
Title
Field Guide to the Palms of the Americas
Publication
 
Author
Henderson A.; Galeano G.; Bernal R.
Publisher
Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-691-08537-4
Description
An excellent book, giving basic information on all the 550 species of palms native to the Americas that were known in 1995. Comprehensive information on the plants range and habitat, brief description, some uses and almost 250 photos.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height6.00 m
Growth RateSlow
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Butia capitata is native to the subtropical and tropical environment of eastern Brazil[
335
Title
Perennial Edible Fruits of the Tropics : an Inventory
Publication
 
Author
Martin, F. W.; Campbell, C. W.; Rubertbe, R. M.
Publisher
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
A booklet giving terse details of almost 300 species of edible fruits, plus regional lists of Botanical and Common names for over 2,500 less well-known edible fruits of the tropics.
]. Plants do not succeed in hot, wet, lowland tropical areas[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
]. They can succeed in drier areas with an annual rainfall as low as 250mm and one month or more where rainfall is below 25mm[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
].
Succeeds in most fertile moist but well-drained soils in a sheltered sunny position[
188
Title
The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Publication
 
Author
Brickell. C.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-86318-386-7
Description
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
]. Tolerates light shade[
188
Title
The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Publication
 
Author
Brickell. C.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-86318-386-7
Description
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
]. Plants grow well in full sun, even when small[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
]. Plants can tolerate at least some maritime exposure with salt spray and somewhat saline soil conditions[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
377
Title
Trade Winds Fruit
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The on-line catalogue of a company selling seeds. Gives descriptions, photos and uses of a very wide range of fruit and other food-producing plants plus ornamentals.
].
A very variable plant, with many forms and varieties[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
].
A slow-growing plant[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
].
Palms usually have deep penetrating root systems and generally establish best when planted out at a young stage. However, older plants are substantially more cold tolerant than juvenile plants[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
]. In areas at the limit of their cold tolerance, therefore, it is prudent to grow the plants in containers for some years, giving them winter protection, and only planting them into their permanent positions when sheer size dictates[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
]. Palms can also be transplanted even when very large. Although the thick fleshy roots are easily damaged and/or desiccated, new roots are generally freely produced. It is important to stake the plant very firmly to prevent rock, and also to give it plenty of water until re-established - removing many of the leaves can also help[
231
Title
Palms for Cooler Climates.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Trebah Enterprises.
Year
1993
ISBN
0 9521952 0 8
Description
An excellent little booklet on the subject, though it does not mention many plant uses.
].

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw[
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
,
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
]. Sweet and aromatic with the flavour of apricots[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. They can also be made into jellies, jams, pies, cakes etc[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The fruit is very fibrous but is also very nice[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The fruit is about 34 x 25mm[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

The seed contains up to 45% of an edible oil, it is used mainly for margarines[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

The pith of the stem can be made into a bread[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
]. However, because the tree cannot make side branches this will effectively kill it[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

None known

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in containers. Stored seed is very slow to germinate. Pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing may shorten the germination time. Plants form a long tap-root some time before forming a shoot. Germination of fresh seed usually takes place in 3 - 4 months at 25°c[
138
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 3.
Publication
 
Author
Bird. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1989
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
]. Plant out into deep pots or the open ground either as soon as root growth is noticed or as soon as top growth appears.

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