Pindo palm growth rate

Common Names:

The Pindo Palm or The Jelly Palm

Type of Plant:

This is a single trunk, pinnate palm (feather palm)

The Genus:

Butia as a genus has multiple other species. Most are full sun plants with green to gray-green leaves and have good cold tolerance.

Sun Tolerance:

Butia capitata is a full sun species, even in the desert. In fact, they languish and usually do poorly in the shade.

Mature Height:

In our locality The Pindo Palm reaches a mature height typically of about twenty feet in 20 years.


The leaves a type of feather type leaf typically six to eight feet long. The leaves definitely have a curve to them, bending at their ends toward the ground. This makes the crown of leaves more compact. Most people would consider these leaves to be un-armed but close inspection shows rudimentary and blunted spines at the proximal ends. But, because of their dullness, they are not intimidating at all.

Leaf Color:

There are two colors to the leaves. There is the more common “green form” and the sought after “blue form”. (see pictures below). And, there are many plants with leaf colors somewhere in-between.


The trunk of Butia capitata is anywhere from fourteen to twenty inches thick. The trunk will retain not unattractive leaf bases that eventually fall off.

Cold Tolerance:

This species is remarkably cold hardy and probably in the tops five most cold hardy types of palms. Most agree that the Pindo Palm can take somewhere down to the 15 degree F. range.


The seeds of the Jelly Palm are covered with a supple yellow to gold colored fruit that is not only very fragrant but also edible. It is used to make jelly or other foods.

Growth Rate:

Medium – Mature height takes at least years to develop.

Native Habitat:

This species is native to Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

Other Species of Butia:

As mentioned, there are about twenty other types of Butia that have been described. Very few are offered for sale. Recent research has expanded the number of species known. Some that you may find available include Butia eriospatha, archeri, paraguayensis, bonetti, ordorata and yatay. Almost all of these can be easily grown in many areas but are difficult to find. We occasionally have rare species available.

Butia yatay by TS RPS

Landscape Usages:

This species should be given room as the width of the crown can easily be over ten feet or more wide. Almost everyone grows them as a single specimen and not as a closely grown colony. It would be wise to give ample “viewing room” with space around the palm for enjoying its appearance.

Butia Hybrids:

Interestingly, the genus of Butia has proven to be quite easy to hybridize (cross) with other genera. Some of these inter-generic hybrids have proven to be very popular and good growing plants. The Mule Palm is a cross with the common Queen Palm. Crosses with Jubaea (either with the Jubaea or Butia being the seed bearer mother plant) have also proven to be very popular. We usually have Mule Palms available and sometimes Jubaea crosses. For photos, see below.

How fast do Pindo palms grow? Does it matter wether it’s a single or double trunk?

Hello everyone,
My name’s George and I live in Queensland Australia. I’m originally from the UK so have little experience with Palm trees and would love your advice regarding an issue I’m currently having with an established Pindo / Jelly palm in my Garden (photo 1). I believe it’s 10+ years old.
I recently completed removing the existing plants and replanting under this palm with a series of fan palms and Cordylines. I’ve found it’s normal for this Palms tips to brown slightly as shown in photo 2 (I’m assuming when it’s not had enough water). However after completing my planting a few days later I noticed on several branches entire leaves turning yellow from where they join the branches and dying.
I assume I have disturbed it’s roots too significantly so removed the affected branches as well as some other older ones as I would with a transplanted palm so it had less to sustain. I’ve also fertiliser and regularly watered the palm to try and encourage new root growth. This proved successful in stopping the damage to leaves at the base of the branches, however rather than the brown tips at the edge of some of the branches they are turning black as shown in photo 3. This issue seems to be limited to a few of the older branches. The issue is occurring daily but only to older branches and thankfully the higher branches atleast at present seem unaffected.
I would really appreciate some advice. Am I best removing further branches as this is a sign it still cannot sustain itself? Do I leave well alone and hope it will over time be able to sustain itself again. What I’m really concerned with is that the black may be from over watering rather than under watering and that I may actually be killing it with kindness? I have been removing the black affected areas so I can track if the problem is persisting. The photo shows about 1 days impact.
Many thanks

Billco’s Outdoors

You will find many palm tree species on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Although some are native, others have been brought into the area. These are the palm trees that you might see here.
• Canary Island Date Palm
The Canary Island date palm is an ornamental palm tree. Its massive size gives this tree a grandiose appearance. It can grow up to sixty feet tall. The incredibly thick trunk has a diamond pattern on it. The crown of the Canary Island date palm boasts more than fifty leaves. The leaves are between a foot and a foot and a half long. As the name implies, this palm tree was imported from the Canary Islands.
Canary date palms are at the right in the photo.

• Windmill Palm
The windmill palm usually grows to be about twenty-five feet tall; however, specimens have been found as tall as forty feet. The fronds are between two and three feet in length with dark green leaflets. Windmill Palms can survive in the cold all the way down to five degrees.
Windmill palms are to the left in the photo.
• Sago Palm
The Sago Palm is technically not a palm at all but a cycad. They are actually prehistoric trees. Fossils of this specimen have been dug up all over the world. They can grow to ten to twelve feet high with an eight to twelve feet spread; however, it can take up to fifty years for the tree to reach this size. The leaves are about four feet long and dark green in color. The sago palm prefers sandy soil that drains well.
Sago palms are in the foreground of the photo above.
• Washingtonian Palm (Mexican Fan Palm)
The Washingtonian palm grow very tall, sometimes exceeding one hundred and twenty feet, though most that you will see will be no taller than forty feet. The trunk is thinner than most other varieties of fan palms. The Washingtonian palm’s fronds are a deep shade of green. They require a fair amount of maintenance and need to be trimmed annually. This palm tree is indigenous to the southern half of Baja California and northern parts of Mexico.
• Pindo Palm
The pindo palm is one of the smaller palm trees as it only grows to about twenty feet tall. The bright green fronds have a feather-like appearance. The spring flowers eventually grow into orange fruits that resemble dates. The fruits are edible either fresh or as a jelly. They are native to South America where the fruit’s flesh is smashed and mixed with alcohol for a flavorful drink!
• Sabal Palmetto (Cabbage Palm)
The sabal palmetto palm usually grows to be fifty to sixty feet tall and the trunk can be as much as two feet around. The fronds are between five and six feet long and each has approximately fifty leaflets on it. The pale yellow flowers develop into black fruits. The fruit is a good food source for birds and other wildlife. The sabal palmetto does well in salty conditions near the water.
• Saw Palmetto
The saw palmetto is native to the Alabama Gulf Coast. It is a small fan palm that only grows between three and six feet tall. They usually grow in clumps and prefer the sandy soil of coastal areas or pine forests. The center of the frond has sharp spines that can easily tear your skin open. This shaft supports about twenty leaflets.
• Needle Palm
The needle palm is a small fan palm that grows up to six feet tall. It doesn’t have a trunk; it has a crown from which the leaves grow. The crown expands slowly to allow more leaves to grow. The needle palm has a bush-like appearance. This palm is a native palm tree species. It is very cold hardy and has a high level of drought resistance

Palm trees are wonderful, but very strange…

As you might suspect, they’re not ordinary trees, but something very, very different.
They’re generally super-tall, able to remain standing in hurricane force winds. If you cut one down, you’ll see a very strange and wonderful composite structure that looks nothing like an ordinary tree. There are no tree rings, but a bundle of fibers that are key to its extraordinary resilience.

P/C Wikimedia / Kadeve.

Our Challenge was:

1. Why are palm trees SO tall?
As you know, asking Why Questions can be really difficult and tricky. What’s a good answer to a why question?
To get a bit of background, I looked at the Wikipedia entry about palm trees, and quickly ended up on the entry for Arecacae, the latin family name. There I learned that:
The Arecaceae .. can be climbers, shrubs, tree-like or stemless plants.. There are 181 genera with around 2600 species are known, most of them restricted to tropical and subtropical climates. Palms are distinguished by their large, compound, evergreen leaves, known as fronds, arranged at the top of an unbranched stem. However, palms exhibit an enormous diversity in physical characteristics and inhabit nearly every type of habitat within their range, from rainforests to deserts…
I started this Challenge by doing an obvious search in the form of a question. Note that asking questions like this triggers a special kind of Google search processing–it’s not just searching for those terms, but the query is handled much more as a knowledge-based request…

The search results are pretty good.

(Click to see at full size.)

The first 4 results are right on topic and give us a diversity of content. Here’s what I see and think when I look at these hits.
#1 is a link to a Quora (a well-known question-answering site) discussion with a question about the evolutionary benefit for palms to grow so tall. That’s a great approach to answering the why question–understanding the costs and benefits from an evolutionary perspective would be good.
#2 (skipping over the “People also ask” section) links to a reddit “Explain like I’m five” question/answer about “why are palm trees so tall?” The explanation might be simple, but there’s almost certainly an interesting discussion there.
#3 is from Mother Nature News, a kind of gee-whiz site with breathless articles like “4 ways tardigrades are nearly indestructible,” but might give us some interesting tidbits about tall palms.
#4 links to a StackExchange forum, pointing to the more generic question “Why is it beneficial for trees to grow that tall?” I expect this to be a more general discussion of tree height–perhaps we’ll learn something about why trees grow so tall in the first place.
I read the targets of these links and found out that:
* Not all palm trees are tall! (In retrospect, this is obvious–different species of palms have different heights. For instance, the Allagoptera arenaria (Beach palm) is less than 2 meters high. But clearly, we’re curious about tall palm in this Challenge.)

* Palm trees in their wild and natural setting often compete for resources. In the wild, palm forests are often densely packed, requiring the palm trees to do something to grab their own light, water, and nutrients. Growing extremely tall is one solution.
Here are a few images of wild palm tree forests. You can see there’s a lot of competition for sun and water.

Eastern San Diego county, packed into the bottom of a dry ravine.

A palm forest in Indonesia.

Even beach locations can be competitive! (Image by Pexels from .)

(I note that it’s a little tricky to find images of palm trees in their wild and unstructured settings. Many palm trees, even dense forests, are often former coconut plantains, which isn’t the same.)
Result #2 tells us that palms are often the fastest growing trees (although as with palm tree height, growth rates vary from species to species). So they compete in height, and rate of growth in order to get the resources they need.
Meanwhile, #3 tells us that the tallest palms are the Quindio wax palm (Ceroxylon quindiuense), growing up to 60 meters (180 feet), which Wikipedia tells us grows in dense forests in the wild–so height is important there as well.
And #4 asks the more general question, “Why is it beneficial for trees to grow that tall?” Keep in mind that this is a discussion on a StackExchange site that encourages experts to answer and discuss questions. It’s heavily moderated, and the quality of the discussions you find there is pretty high.
This particular thread discusses why palms in forests grow so tall, and work through various alternative explanations… but it all comes back a fitness advantage for taller trees to have more sunlight.
An interesting twist… Just for grins (and because I know that shifting media types sometimes gives an insight), I did a search for:

and looked at Images. It was pretty much what you’d expect. Looked like this in the center of the SERP:

That scatter plot chart in the middle made me think–perhaps there’s something interesting here!
Turns out that this chart comes from a scientific paper about the age and height of oil palm trees, Tree height and crown shape as results of competitive games (J. of Theoretical Biology, January 1985) and that made me think about doing a search in Google Scholar.
In Google Scholar:

led to a bunch of fascinating papers (which time and space prevent me from summarizing, but there’s a fun intellectual rathole to explore one day).
But the paper Competition from below for light and nutrients shifts productivity among tropical species
seemed to potentially hold the answer to our question. Turns out that it didn’t… exactly… but it DOES make the fascinating observation that
“…In 2 cases the novel competitive mechanism responsible for the shift was reduction in crown volume, and therefore light-capturing capability, of overtopping deciduous trees by intrusive growth from below a palm.”
Which kind of captures what we found elsewhere.
Why are palm trees so tall? Answer: Palms compete for light by growing tall and fast. In this case, they overreach the (ordinary) deciduous trees by growing up and through the canopy to reach the pure sunlight above the shade cover of the deciduous trees. But in palm forests they’re competing with their peers… where they compete just as hard.

Search Lessons

This Challenge points out a couple of lessons to learn and take to heart.
1. Looking across a number of different sources is valuable. I know I keep saying this, but as a skilled SRS-er, do NOT lock in on any single result, especially if it confirms your beliefs. A better strategy is to look broadly across a number of results and look for insights that are reported consistently across a number of different authors, different sources, and different perspectives. That’s one way to find your way to truth.
2. Try different sources to get a different perspective. Here I did another (but related) search on Google Scholar (after having been prompted by seeing a scientific chart in an image), and found lots of high-quality (but sometimes dense) articles on palm trees and their growth behaviors.
Hope you enjoyed this romp through palm tree botany. As always, there’s a LOT more to say about this topic. (If you’re interested, a great query is — they’re an amazing group of plants with wildly varying shapes, sizes, and niches. As they say, worth a trip…)
Search on!

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