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Purple leaf bases: Butia


Marius
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Hi Everyone. I got these two Butias a year or two ago. They were together in a bag, but not labeled. The grower said that they were an unused one but couldn’t remember the species. It now appears that they are two different ones. Or is the purple colour not an identifying feature?  The purple one doesn’t appear to have signs of spines but the green one does. Any ideas on what it could be?

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I’ve seen owner photos of some palms that experience cold weather and have purple-ish frond bases. As I recall member Brahea Axel who was in Santa Cruz, CA had a garden with a number of young purple trunked palms. His might have been Bismarckias though. Always fun being surprised.

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Zone 9b (formerly listed as Zone 9a); Sunset 14

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19 hours ago, Marius said:

Hi Everyone. I got these two Butias a year or two ago. They were together in a bag, but not labeled. The grower said that they were an unused one but couldn’t remember the species. It now appears that they are two different ones. Or is the purple colour not an identifying feature?  The purple one doesn’t appear to have signs of spines but the green one does. Any ideas on what it could be?

Hi Marius,

I can't speak for what species are typically sold in South Africa, but the Butia odorata that are sold here are quite variable.  Many specimens have the purple colored leaf bases and even purple colored leaf petioles and many do not.  I don't believe the purple color is an identifying feature (except for the fruit color), but the unarmed petiole might be.  According to what I've read in Palmpedia, Butia purpurascens is one of only a few Butia species with unarmed petioles but it quite rare in cultivation.  Below is what I found for differentiating different Butia species.  And yes, @WestCoastGal, I believe Axel was describing the purple leaves and leaf petioles of his young Bismarckia.  Mine do the same thing when exposed to cold temps.

Jon

Category:  BUTIA

Dichotomous key for identification of species of the genus Butia occurring in the state of Rio Grande do South (including Butia paraguayensis naturally occurring doubtful).

1. Female flowers with up to 9 mm long, cored fruit or slightly rounded oval, Bract stalk covered with dense tomentum lanuginous brown coloration ............ Butia eriospatha.

2. Bract stalk smooth, glauca, without tomentum lanuginous, Plant with stems up to 2 feet tall and 15-43 cm in diameter; bract of the inflorescence stalk widest above the middle portion and ending abruptly in a short beak; fruits more long than wide, narrow-oblong............ Butia catarinensis.

3. Plant with stems up to 9 feet tall and 32-58 cm in diameter; bract of the inflorescence stalk wider near the middle portion of the expanded portion and gradually tapering towards the apex; fruits often wider than long ............. Butia odorata.

4. Female flowers with more than 10 mm in length; cored elongated rounded never 2. Plants with capacity issue tillers (stems caespitose)............. Butia lallemantii.

5.Plant capacity without perfilhar (single stem), Acaulescentes adult plants or stems of up to 3 meters; expanded portion of the bract peduncle 40-60 cm long, rachis inflorescence with 13-30 cm,............ Butia paraguayensis.

6. Adult plants with 3-9 (-15) m tall; expanded portion of the peduncular bract 55-85 cm between long, rachis inflorescence 47-72 cm long with Leaves with 43-61 pinnae on each side of the rachis, pinnae of the middle part of the rachis with 40-65 x 2.3 - 2.8 cm; ripe fruit with 3.6 to 5.6 x 3.0 to 4.1 cm, weighing between 23.61 to 43.05 grams; endocarp new fruits 2.8-3.5 x 1.6-2.3 cm and weighing between 3.61 to 10.11 grams (pyrene) with 3 corners Longitudinal visible, giving an almost pyramidal side where the pores are. It is the Butia with largest fruit and endocarp of the genre..............Butia witeckii

7. Leaves with (57 -) 63-78 pinnae on each side of the rachis, pinnae of the middle part of the rachis with (58 -) 65-77 x 2.0-2.4 cm; ripe fruit with 3.0 to 4.1 x 1.5 to 2.8 cm, weighing between 8.91 - 15.39 grams; cored fruit with new 1.8-3.0 x 1.0-1.4 inches and weighing between 1.42 to 2.96 grams (pyrene) without longitudinal edges and cone shaped on the side where the pores are, ..................Butia yatay. (K. Soares & S. Longhi) (From the portuguese) Editing by edric.

From a morphological standpoint, Butia purpurascens seems to be most closely aligned to B. archeri because both taxa have smooth (not toothed) petiole margins, long-acuminate tips to the pinnae, staminate and pistillate flowers similar in size, and fruits similar in size, shape and number of locules. Butia archeri, as described by me (1968) , differs primarily in being mostly acaulescent, in the smaller dimensions of leaves, spathes, and spadices, and in the lack of the purplish color in flower and fruit parts. As I had expected, an examination of cross sections of the pinnae of B. purpurascens (Glassman 13076) reveals that its anatomical pattern matches the other seven species of Butia very closely, thus confirming its placement within this group. (S.F. Glassman, Re-evaluation of the Genus Butia With a Description of a New Species.

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Jon Sunder

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Thanks to both of you. I suppose I’ll have to wait until they are big enough to flower. Do you think I can leave them together or should I separate them?

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Butias are very slow trunking. The one in our backyard has a wide trunk already and it doesn’t even have I don’t think 2 feet of clear trunk and can tell decades down the road it will be a good size. If it were me and I planned to stay where I am, I’d separate them and give them room to widen their trunks. Also think years down the road about the likely width of the canopy and the shade it can provide. 

Zone 9b (formerly listed as Zone 9a); Sunset 14

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5 hours ago, WestCoastGal said:

Butias are very slow trunking. The one in our backyard has a wide trunk already and it doesn’t even have I don’t think 2 feet of clear trunk and can tell decades down the road it will be a good size. If it were me and I planned to stay where I am, I’d separate them and give them room to widen their trunks. Also think years down the road about the likely width of the canopy and the shade it can provide. 

That’s very true. They do take up much space. I’ll separate them as soon as I can figure out where to plant the second one. 

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