Butia yatay

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Butia (boo-TEE-ah)
yatay (YAH-teh)
Misiones, Argentina. Photo by Gaston Torres Vera
Scientific Classification
Genus: Butia (boo-TEE-ah)
yatay (YAH-teh)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Yatay palm, Cocos-Yatay.

Habitat and Distribution

Butia yatay is found in Argentina Northeast, Brazil South, and Uruguay.
Brazil. Photo by Dr. Kelen Soares.
Native to northeastern Argentina in the provinces of Misiones, Santa Fe, Corrientes, and Entre Rios, forming great forests in sandy areas; and to Uruguay in the departments of Paysandli and Rio Negro, in sandy soils. (S.F. Glassman. 1979)/Palmweb.


Trunk type: Solitary, often reaching, 20 inches in diameter, or 40 cm. Leaf bases remain on trunk, for a considerable length of time. Hight: Near 40 Ft., or 12 meters. Spread: Up to 12 Ft., or 4 meters. Leaf detail: Pinnately compound, recurving, grayish, to grayish blue, they can be up to 6 ft. (1.80-2 m.) long, with a leaf stem of about 2 ft. (60 cm.). Petiole armed. Flower: Typical of Butia, with yellow inflorescences. Fruits are orange, and not edible, and are about 1.5 in. (3.5-4 cm.) in diameter.

Butia yatay is easily distinguished from other arborescent species of Butia by the relatively large pistillate flowers (10-16 mm vs. 3-8 mm long). Its geographic range apparently does not overlap with that of B. capitata, B. eriospatha, or B. purpurascens. However, B. yatay is sympatric with B. paraguayensis in at least part of its range (in Corrientes and probably Misiones) and may be confused with the latter species during its immature, acaulescent stage of growth. Crovetto and Piccinini (1951) did an ecological study of 13 different stands (palmares) of Butia yatay in northern Argentina (provinces of Entre Rios, Corrientes, and Santa Fe). At first, they believed that these palmares represented a stage in the psammosere succession because the plants grew in sandy soil. After intensive studies, however, they concluded that the Butia yatay community was not involved in the formation of the regular climax of the region, but was independent of the typical succession of that area. Hence, these palmares were interpreted as being a relict climax, or an ancient vegetation type left over from a previous geological period when climate conditions were perhaps different than they are today. (S.F. Glassman. 1979)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Min. temps. 10 to 14 degrees F. B. yatay tolerates low temperatures well and can take frost to -10 º C. It prefers organic-sandy soils but may grow on limestone and clay, provided they are deep and well drained. (Jose A. Grassia)

Seeds of this variety, often take up to ten months to germinate.

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Comments and Curiosities

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to Palmweb.org, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Glassman, S.F.1979. Re-evaluation of the Genus Butia With a Description of a New Species. Principes 23: 65-79.

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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