Parajubaea sunkha is an evergreen, solitary-stemmed palm tree growing up to 10 metres tall. The unbranched stem can be 25 - 35cm in diameter, topped by a rosette of 18 - 26 leaves up to 3 metres long[
The tree is harvested from the wild for its edible seeds as well as providing material for weaving, rope making etc.
This palm is much less common today than 50 years ago. Although locally abundant in protected ravines, most of the population is being reduced by the cultivation of maize and the harvesting of the plant for fibre and leaves. It is classified as 'Endangered' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2011)[
S. America - Bolivia.
Dry, narrow valleys with low semideciduous forests in the lower parts gradually moving to grassy or shrubby slopes and ridges in the higher parts, at elevations from 1,700 - 2,200 metres[
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A plant of high elevations in the tropics, usually above 2,000 metres. Plants experience sub-zero temperatures in their native range and it should therefore be possible to grow them in warm temperate zones that only experience occasional light frosts[
]. They probably require a cool summer and quickly lose vigour in areas where night temperatures do not fall below 13°c[
Requires a sunny, sheltered position[
]. Grows best in a light, well-drained soil but with plenty of water in the growing season[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
This species has a deep penetrating root system and generally establishes best when planted out at a young stage. It is not suitable for container cultivation[
]. Older plants are substantially more cold tolerant than juvenile plants[
], so if the plants can be protected from frosts in their earlier years it might be possible to grow them in areas at the limit of their cold tolerance.
]. This probably means the seeds[
Fibres obtained from the plant are used to make ropes, mattresses, and pads[
The leaves and leaflets are woven to make fans and baskets[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe. It usually germinates freely. Stored seed is more difficult to germinate, it should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water before sowing. The seedlings quickly send down a taproot, though not as large as from other members of the genus, and so need to be in deep pots[
]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into deep, individual pots and grow them on until large enough to plant out.
Traditionally, the seeds are allowed to dry completely for a couple of months in a cool, dry place. They are then planted on top of a loose, moist soil mix, under a 5 - 8cm blanket of moist sphagnum in a place which is cool at night and warm in the day. This helps with oxygen exchange in and out of the seed coat, which breaks down natural growth inhibitors in the seed. Germination can begin within a few weeks[
If the seeds do not germinate within a few months, store them dry again for a few months in a cool, dry place. Then soak them for 7 days in warm water and resow[
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