Jubaea

Jubaea

Jubaea chilensis (Chilean Wine Palm) is the sole living species in the genus Jubaea in the palm family Arecaceae. It is native to southwestern South America, where it is endemic to a small area of central Chile, between 32°S and 35°S in southern Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Santiago, O'Higgins and northern Maule regions. It was long assumed that the extinct palm tree of Easter Island belonged to this genus too, but it is somewhat more distinct and now placed in its own genus, Paschalococos.

It is a very impressive palm reaching heights of 25 m with a massive trunk up to 1.3 m diameter at the base, often thicker higher up, and with smooth bark. The leaves are pinnate, 3-5 m long. The largest indoor plant in the world is the Jubaea chilensis at Kew, England.

It needs mild winters, but will tolerate frosts down to about −15 °C, making it one of the hardiest of pinnate-leaved palms, this is because it grows up to 1400 metres above sea level in its natural habitat; it will also tolerate relatively cool summers. In the wild, the tree lives almost exclusively on the steep slopes of ravines.

Economic uses

The common name refers to the past use of the sap from the trunk of this palm to produce a fermented beverage. Unlike most other palm wines, collecting the sap requires cutting down the tree, one reason why this species is now uncommon in the wild. The tree is now protected in Chile to prevent indiscriminate harvesting. The sap is also boiled down into a syrup and sold locally as "Miel de Palma", or Palm Honey. They also produce small round fruits that are about 2-3cm in diameter. The fruit has a very hard outer shell and has a whiteish meat on the inside. The fresh nuts are normally sold in the areas where the palms grow during the fruiting season.

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External links

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