Today I harvested the first ripe fruits from my jelly palm, Butia capitata. The fruit should be harvested when it is completely soft and ripe. Picked too green and the fruit is astringent like the persimmon. The jelly palm is also known as the pindo palm. Although the fruit is small with a large seed, like the seeds of the loquat, the fruit is really delicious. I can only describe the fruit as a cross between pineapple, citrus and apricot with a touch of mango thrown in. As the name implies the fruit is used to make jelly but can also be eaten fresh. In Uruguay, the fruit is mashed and used to flavor a liquor. The seeds can also be ground as a substitute for coffee.
The jelly palm can grow to 20 feet, but usually only attains 12 feet or so. It has long curving palm leaves which are a silvery green color or blue green. I purchased my jelly palm four years ago as a 15 gallon sized plant at a local nursery. The palm produced fruit the second year. Now in its fourth year in the ground it is starting to show an actual trunk and is much larger. I'm looking forward to many visits to the palm in the next few weeks to harvest more of the delicious fruit.