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Butia capita (Jelly Palm)

Butia capita (Jelly Palm)


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Butia capitata, also known as Jelly Palm, is native to the states of Minas Gerais and Goiás in Brazil. It is known locally as coquinho-azedo or butiá in (northern) Minas Gerais. This palm grows up to 8m (rarely 10m) tall. It has feather-like, 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.

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

The fruits are harvested between November and February to make juices, 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. An oil can be extracted from the nuts which is quite similar to coconut oil.

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