Butia capitata

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Butia capitata
First illustration, the lectotype.
Ripe fruit
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Butia
B. capitata
Binomial name
Butia capitata
  • Cocos capitata Mart. [1916][2]
  • Calappa capitata (Mart.) Kuntze [1891]
  • Butia capitata subsp. eucapitata Herter, not validly publ. [1940]
  • Syagrus capitata (Mart.) Glassman [1970]

Butia capitata, also known as jelly palm, is a Butia palm native to the states of Minas Gerais and Goiás in Brazil.[4] It is known locally as coquinho-azedo or butiá in (northern) Minas Gerais.[5] This palm grows up to 8m (exceptionally 10m). It has feather palm pinnate leaves that arch inwards towards a thick stout trunk.

Palms cultivated around the world under the name Butia capitata are actually almost all B. odorata. The real B. capitata is not notably hardy, nor widely cultivated.[4][6][7]

In Minas Gerais, it flowers from May to July[8] and is in fruit from November to February.[5] Ripe fruit are about the size of large cherry, and yellowish/orange in color, but can also include a blush towards the tip.


This taxon was first scientifically described in 1826 as Cocos capitata in the Historia Naturalis Palmarum by Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius, who described and illustrated the palm from sketches and herbarium collections he made on montane grasslands near the Serra de Santo Antônio, Minas Gerais.[2][8]

In 1970, Sidney Fredrick Glassman moved this species, along with all other Butia, to Syagrus,[9] but in 1979 he changed his mind and moved everything back.[10]


The fruits are locally harvested from the wild between November and February to make juices, liquor, marmalades and ice-cream. The fruit has orange, sometimes red, skin. The pulp is bright orange, highly aromatic, somewhat oily, and quite fibrous. The pulp can be frozen for industrial production. In the north of Minas Gerais state, B. capitata juice has been added to some public school lunches.[5]

An oil can be extracted from the nuts which is quite similar to coconut oil.[5]


The pulp is a good source of β-carotene and provitamin A compared with other fruits usually consumed. A glass of juice containing 100g of B. capitata pulp can provide 40% of the daily vitamin A requirements for children aged under eight by the standards of the National Academy of Medicine.[5]


  1. ^ "Butia capitata". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
  2. ^ a b "IPNI Plant Name Details". International Plant Names Index. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, The Harvard University Herbaria, and the Australian National Herbarium. 2018. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  3. ^ Govaerts, R. (2018). "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b Soares, Kelen Pureza (2015). "Le genre Butia". Principes (in French). 1: 12–57. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e Fruits of Butia capitata (Mart.) Becc as good sources of β-carotene and provitamin A. Juliana Pereira Faria, Egle M. A. Siqueira, Roberto Fontes Vieira and Tânia da Silveira Agostini-Cost, Revista Brasileira de Fruticultura, Oct. 2011, vol.33, no.spe1, doi:10.1590/S0100-29452011000500084
  6. ^ Wunderlin, R. P.; Hansen, B. F.; Franck, A. R.; Essig, F. B. (16 September 2018). "Butia capitata - Species Page". Atlas of Florida Plants. Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa. Retrieved 17 September 2018. Recent taxonomy suggests B. odorata is the species naturalized in Florida, which has globose fruits, small midrib bundles completely encircling the fibrous cylinder, and does not have raphide-containing idioblasts in the foliar margin, unlike B. capitata (Sant'Anna-Santos et. al 2015)
  7. ^ Kembrey, Nigel (9 February 2013). "Buita nomenclature -new names". Hardy Tropicals UK. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  8. ^ a b von Martius, Karl Friedrich Philipp (1826). Historia Naturalis Palmarum - opus tripartium (in Latin). Vol. 2. Leipzig: T. O. Weigel. pp. 114–115. doi:10.5962/bhl.title.506.
  9. ^ Glassman, Sidney Fredrick (1970). "A conspectus of the palm genus Butia Becc". Fieldiana. 32 (10): 143–145. doi:10.5962/bhl.title.2384. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  10. ^ Glassman, Sidney Fredrick (1979). "Re-evaluation of the Genus Butia With a Description of a New Species" (PDF). Principes. 23: 70–71. Retrieved 12 October 2018.