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Butia odorata

Jelly Palm

This popular, hardy, feather-leaved palm has recently been separated from Butia capitata to clear up a very old taxonomic mess. This palm is native to southern Brazil and Uruguay and is widely cultivated around the world, usually under the name B. capitata. It is a large, robust plant with recurved, strongly keeled, blue green leaves, a stout trunk and deliciously edible, yellow fruit with round or slightly elongated seeds. The true B. capitata is a plant from the highland of central Brazil in the sates of Bahia, Goiás and Minas Gerais. It is a much smaller plant, has larger, spindle-shaped seeds and is virtually unknown in cultivation. Butia odorata will succeed in all but the coldest temperate and warm temperate climates, but does not like tropical climates. One of the few truly hardy feather palms, it will tolerate extremely low temperatures when older.

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germination comments by our visitors
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Seeds from this species ...

... are average to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
seeds of this palm I germinated for 2 months and at 2 or 3 germ from each seed. First fell well moisten the substrate and after that I put it in a bowl then I took the seed and placed it on moist substrateI covered the bowl and put in nylon hot spot temperature was a constant 30
Submitted on 06/04/2013 by amel

... are easy to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
Easy but need good seed to be grown. Soak fresh seed in warm water for 1 hour, then plant it in a pot full of soil. For 5 month the young palm have been germinated.
Submitted on 01/12/2008 by one of our visitors

... are difficult to germinate and need more than 1 year to sprout.
I collected several hundred fruit in July 2007 to make wine. After pressing off the fruit, seeds were soaked in water for 10 days, with change of water each day. Seeds kept in moist perlite in ziplocks at 18C for 6 months produced no germination. Finally sowed in outside seed bed. Got 20-25% germination in late August 2008 with daytime temps consistently 25-30C.
Submitted on 25/11/2008 by one of our visitors

... are average to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
Only recently picked seeds should be used, harvested generally around late October SW or September in SE. Reddish colour is best although orange seeds will suffix. Pick seeds as they mature and store in a cool dry place. If needs ask the plant owner, as removing a seed bundle takes time and destroys 95% of viable seeds. Make note of various palms in the area if you don't frequent the area as Butias are notorious for self and cross pollenation. I live in southern CA so I consider March to be a stable 20C at night and it's about 6 weeks before heat starts to rise. Do a little research on your area. Srape dirt and a little bit of coating of the seeds with some steel wool, then plant in 50 50 vermiculite pumus using 4"x4"x8" pots. If you live more than 20 miles from a large body of water or you don't have a lot of time to look after seedlings use more vermiculite. The trick to get a good germination percentage is to water early in the day and only when the pots are bone dry. Do not over water. It can take up to 4 months. Good luck
Submitted on 30/09/2007 by Mike obplsd@yahoo.com

... are easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
I put these seeds in a plastic bag with slightly moist germinating soil at a temperature of about 25 degreeds celsius. Three months later 8 out of 10 seeds germinated and most of them are twins or triplets!
Submitted on 22/06/2007 by Kai Kuné fishyboy2@hotmail.com

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Easy to germinate, at least in mild climate. They are sprouting around the tree trunk by themselves like weed. I have made over 200 seedlings from just pulling the new plants from the crevices in the mather trunk. I have not taken any special actions to repruce it and still get more than I can handle.
Submitted on 04/04/2007 by one of our visitors

...very easy to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
Had them at constant 30C for about six months and nothing happened. Moved them to indoor location at constant 20C and eight of ten germinated within one week.
Submitted on 27/09/2005 by Jack Sayers jack_sayers@sbcglobal.net

...difficult to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
i have soaked butia seed for 24hrs and then planted in the beds consisting media of soil, cocopeat, sand in a composition of 1:1:1. Three months later i found nothing happend then i took 10 seed and a little jerk given to soften the seed coats. then i have planted them in a small coffee cups and put them under controlled conditions maintaining 80% humidity round the clock. still no results found and waiting with a hope that i will get my seed germinated within a month so.
Submitted on 13/06/2005 by satyaprakash neeleshsatya@yahoo.com

...difficult to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
Palms are usually very easy to grow to me, but this palm species was pretty tough to grow. I put the seeds in the desired temperature (65-80 degrees) I let them grow for 3 months in 70 degrees soil, and nothing happened.I decided to raise the soil temperature to 80 degrees. I waited 2 months and the seeds still didn't grow. So I just gave up, and placed the seeds aside to grow on there own, and in one month, the seeds started to grow. So if you have problems growing certain types of palms, just be patient and let the palm grow on its own time.
Submitted on 08/03/2005 by one of our visitors

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
An easy palm to grow. Unlike some palms, I found that Butia seeds like cool, tempertatures, around 45-60 degrees. It worked like a charm for my 5 Butia seeds.
Submitted on 08/03/2005 by one of our visitors

...difficult to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
One out of 10 seeds sprouted until I got a new batch of seeds. Again only one of 8 sprouted. Sowing in cocpeat with heat source beneath. Seeds need to be fresh to get good results.
Submitted on 16/06/2004 by Cheri Wilson Reininrabt@aol.com

...very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Have had really good luck germinating these palms from seed, almost 100%! I soaked the seed for about 48 hours in luke warm water, changing it every 8 hours or so. I then placed the seed in a mixture of peat and cactus soil and planted them about 1" deep in a plastic storage box with a "snap on lid" and placed them in my gas oven. The pilot flame keeps a gas oven at around 90 degrees constant heat, perfect for germinating many types of palm seeds. I have also germinated sugar palms and cardboard palms (cycads) this way. I usually have roots in as short as 4 weeks, but sometimes up to 10 weeks in almost all plantings. The heat is free and I feel its better than using heater cables. If you have a gas oven, give it a try, I have found it almost fool proof. An alternative method is to use a 10 gallon aquarium with a glass cover and Mason jar filled with water. Place an inexpensive aquarium heater inside the water filled jar and adjust the heater to about 90 degrees. This provides both heat and humidity for the planted seeds ( use small peat pots and a seed germinating mix for sowing). I have found this works well too, not unlike a jungle climate. Good luck!
Submitted on 27/12/2003 by Bill Killinger williamcharles18@aol.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
I took the long and patient approach to germinating these seeds. I cleaned all the seeds using a coffee can half filled with water and about 2 cups of builders sand. I used a whisker(sp), the type used for mixing eggs for an omelet, with the handle cut off. The stem of the whisker was inserted through a hole in the lid of the can, and attached to a cordless drill. just turned it on and let the sand clean the seeds. I then rinsed the seeds several times, and used a thermos with very warm water to soak the seeds overnight. I planted the seeds in a flat made from cut out 250 gallon plastic container. I guess a kids pool would do. The seeds were planted about 2 inches apart in a peat and sand medium. Holes were cut in the bottom of the flat for drainage. I put the flat in the sun and left it over the winter, watering as needed to keep the medium moist. that was in November. In March through May the seeds started sprouting. I got maybe 65 to 75% germination. Then I transferred the seedlings to 1 gallon pots. And grew them out for sale there. They would probably grow faster if transplanted to the field, and given water and fertilizer as needed. I have a new batch now, and maybe I'll try that in the spring. Happy Growing
Submitted on 07/10/2003 by Joe Danford the.tinman@mchsi.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
I had 10 seeds 4 of which germinated within 6 weeks. They were in a propagator at about 27-30 C. I haven't given up hope on the others!
Submitted on 20/07/2003 by one of our visitors

...easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
these seeds can be germinated much quicker by cracking open the shells and planting the endosperms (soak, after cracking, for a day or two before planting).i use a 50% sand 50% peat mix for starting these seeds and have good success.
Submitted on 02/03/2003 by Tim Lane abyssquick@aol.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Planted 1" deep in ordinary potting soil, covered container in plastic, kept warm (80-90 degrees). 1st seed up after 3 months.
Submitted on 01/03/2003 by Steve Flynn sflynn22@mac.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
Easy to germinate, but potentially quite slow. Planted the seeds directly into 4 inch pots, about three seeds in each. I got quite a few twin and triplets from each seed, with each eye sending up a plant in some cases. I used no bottom heat.
Submitted on 23/12/2002 by Van vandringar@hotmail.com

...very difficult to germinate and need up to 1 year to sprout.
Bought at an other palm seed dealer in august 01,no germination now ,5 month later. I broke the nut and found in average 2 seeds. Most of them rotted within the next weeks. One day presoaking, germination at elevated temperature(38-40°C)used Kokohum slightly moist to moist. I will try next time with seeds from here.
Submitted by Jens JensBluetling@onlinehome.de

...very difficult to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
After years of trying to germinate these seedsand my own trees producing fresh seeds in zone 8 in Virginia, I was determined to produce my own Butias.I had tried every method possible, with poor resutls. After all I was able to germinate every palm seed I had ever grown except for this one.After reading somewhere that Butia's or hard shell seeds need heat(high) heat and moisture to break down the shell of these palms which occurs naturally in tropical enviiroments, it occured to me that I was not getting the seeds hot enough. I first used several differant mediums to germinate the seeds in and several differant pots and flats. I placed all my potted seedlings in my cold frame greenhouses in our hot summer weather. The temperature in the plastic covered cold frames reached as high as 90-100 degrees for the better part of May, June and July. I moistened the pots daily so this would create damp moisture to break down the hard outer shell. Finally in late July seedlings started poping through the soil mix. I removed the pots as they started germinating. In the tall pots where I had layered the seedling I had atleast 85 percent germination and in the flats maybe 10%. I removed the pots so that the high heat and light wouldn't burn the newly sprouting seedlings. I immeadiately transplanted each seedling as they appeared. I have atleast 700 hundred Butias seedlings. I returned the pots with the still ungerminated seedlings back into the greenhouses and have continued watering daily. They are still coming up. Some of the seeds were even two years old. For the soil mediums, I used two differant types. One had half sand, potting soil with some pine bark in it. This medium did fare. The second medium I used half potting soil and vermiculite, a fifty fiffty ratio. This medium in 3 galoon tall pots have the highest germination rate. The roots of the Butias had grown huge. I did water all pots with 20.20.20 every other time I watered and I figure that the vermiculite helped retain the fertilizer longer and consequently helped the root systems develop better. I was 100% pleased with my results. considering I don't not live in the tropics.
Submitted by Kathy Denton palmlady@gte.net

...very difficult to germinate and need up to 1 year to sprout.
Very slow and challenging to germinate. Remove the mesocarp of the seeds harvested in autumn, clean well, store during the winter at 18°-23° in a paper bag or box in a drawer. Respecting 100-150 days of dormancy is important to help the seeds germinate well. In early spring (march-April) prepare a substantial part composted pine bark, part peat, part garden earth mixture, bake the mixture half an hour to kill all micro-organisms. Fill in pots with that mixture, sow the seeds to one time their diameter, water with diluted fungicide, then cover with glass provide bottom heat (38°C-42°C), water if the soil seems dry. Germination can occur 6-8 months later. Leave pots that have not germinated yet in a cool room for the winter. Then, in the early spring water again and provide bottom heat : the remnant seeds can then germinate
Submitted by one of our visitors

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plant cultivation comments by our visitors
Also see germination commnets above.

Plants from this species ...

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If you wish to read more on palm cultivation, we highly recommend Ornamental Palm Horticulture by Timothy K. Broschat and Alan W. Meerow, available in our bookshop.

Ratings and comments reflect individual experiences and the views of our visitors. They do not necessarily describe the most appropriate methods, nor are they necessarily valid for all seeds or plants of this species. Germination and plant cultivation success depends on many different factors; nevertheless, these experiences will hopefully aid you in your effort to get the best germination results from our seeds and the best growth results from your plants.

We recommend:
The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft, Scott Zona

2nd edition
Completely revised and updated

Hardcover - 528 pages
11 x 8.5 inches

Our rating:
Suitable for: all

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is the definitive account of all palms that can be grown for ornamental and economic use. Palms are often underutilized as a result of their unfamiliarity—even to tropical gardeners. To help introduce these valuable plants to a new audience, the authors have exhaustively documented every genus in the palm family.
825 species are described in detail, including cold hardiness, water needs, height, and any special requirements. Generously illustrated with more than 900 photos, including photos of several palm species that have never before appeared in a general encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is as valuable as an identification guide as it is a practical handbook. Interesting snippets of history, ethnobotany, and biology inform the text and make this a lively catalog of these remarkable plants.

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