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Pindo / Jelly Palm Query

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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





Edited by GeorgeT1985
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Hi George, welcome to PalmTalk!

Your palm looks great!  I'm not exactly sure what the problem is but Butia prefers to be on the dry side. You say it's established and possibly more than 10 years old so I am assuming that it was already planted when you moved there and you just moved there recently?  It's perfectly natural for the outer leaves to die off as part of the process of growing.  I wouldn't advise removing any leaves until they are completely brown and dried up.  I have one about the size of yours.  Butias are very resilient palms and transplant easily - in fact mine has been dug up and relocated 4 or 5 times and is doing fine in its current spot!  It's possible that you did some minor damage to its roots by digging out what I assume were small plants around it but I doubt that it negatively impacted it.  I would leave it alone.  These are one of my favorite palms and I enjoy making jelly from the fruit!


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Thanks for the response Jon.

Yes I moved here about a year ago. I agree the ends naturally die off which I've noticed since been here but this is definitely at an accelerated rate and the colouring is different which is what concerned me. Atleast it's the tips and not the other end like it was before.

It's very reassuring to hear you've moved yours so often and you are correct it was an assortment of small plants there before. I'll do as you suggest and just try to leave it alone and perhaps water it a little less then I have been doing. I just find it very hard not to interfere with it when I know it wasn't doing this before I planted under it.

I had heard you could make alcohol from them but not jelly. Will have to look into that!


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Hi George, Fusca is right.

Don't cut off any more fronds until they are crispy brown.  The palm will recycle some nutrients from old leaves up into new ones when it needs to, it will lose nutrients if you cut dieing leaves off too early.  

"Nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium are readily translocated within the plant and are referred to as “mobile”. Symptoms first appear on older leaves as the nutrients are moved to new growth. Other nutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium and boron are immobile and are not moved around the plant, with symptoms generally occurring on the growing tips. Manganese mobility is complex and depends on the species and the age of the plant and the deficiency may appear on either old or new leaves." 


Otherwise I think that your palm looks great, as good as any garden palm. I think that your standards are too high. I have done the same, cutting off dead ends chasing it down the leaf, assessing the die-back rate. Probably unnecessarily. Now I would only do that to keep it looking good - at a distance.

If you don't think that the plant looks good you are just standing too close, stand back further and it will look great. It may always look like that, I wouldn't worry. (But that is just me.) There are so many variables with a garden plant, as opposed to a potted one, that we cannot control, that I would not worry too much.  Just look to the basics as you have done and stand back.

Forget the Jelly George, make the alcohol.

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Hi George. It’s probably been a tad neglected in the past and now you’ve given it nutrients and love it’s putting out new growth and recycling nutrients out of the old growth. It looks great. I’ve got a big one on the side of a lake which is in peat and clay. In winter the water is virtually up to the trunk and it loves it. I’ve even made wine out of the fruit. Visitors love the exotic drop you can make from these. 

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Thanks for the additional responses.

That makes alot of sense. I had read not to chop off dying areas before but never understood why.  A shame I removed all those branches but live and learn!

I'll definitely be trying to make something with the fruit.... I'm a gin lover so perhaps I can make an infused Gin with them. I didn't know they were edible last year so just threw them away *grrrr*

Right I'll do my best to just leave it alone and see how it goes.  By the sounds it will sort itself out which is a big relief. :)


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10 minutes ago, GeorgeT1985 said:

I'll definitely be trying to make something with the fruit

The fruits are sweet, but very fibrous as well.  I enjoy eating them, but the tree produces about 50 lbs of fruit which is much more than I can eat myself!  They contain a large seed so can be 40% fruit/60% seed so they're a bit tedious to work with.  Butias are very variable also so some fruits are better than others and can have different colored fruits/flowers.  Syagrus romanzoffiana (queen palm) and Jubaea chilensis also have similar fruits that can be eaten.  My Butia has been in its present location for almost 3 years now so it should be settled in and start flowering again soon.  :P  Hope yours will continue to look good and do well for you.


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The nuts of butiás are also edible and the taste is delicious like coconuts. Brazilans also put a good amount of ripe fruits of butiás in rum and in time it will aromatize it, wat is called "licor de butiá".

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