| Butia (boo-TEE-ah) |
Misiones, Argentina. Photo by Gaston Torres Vera
Habitat and DistributionButia yatay is found in Argentina Northeast, Brazil South, and Uruguay.
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.
|Detailed Scientific Description|
Palm 8-12 m tall, about 40 cm in diam., old petiole bases persistent on trunk when young, eventually dehiscing completely; sheathing base 58-60 em long, petiole 50-70 cm long, margins armed with coarse spiny teeth about 3 cm long on lower part, teeth becoming gradually smaller on upper part; rachis of leaf 170-200 em long, pinnae 68-72 in each side, regularly arranged, middle ones 75-81 cm long, 2.0-2.4 cm wide, mostly with acute, asymmetrical tips; expanded part of spathe 115-125 cm long, 10-12 cm wide, smooth or striate, more or less glaucous outside; branched part of spadix 78-82 cm long, rachillae numerous (100 or more), each 30-32 cm long; pistillate flowers ovoid, 10-16 mm long, 6-10 mm in diam.; lower staminate flowers 8-13 mm long, those above 5-8 mm long; mature fruit ovoid 3.0-4.2 cm long, 2.5-2.8 cm in diam., with prominent, conical beak, persistent perianth 1.8-2.2 cm high, locules 1-3, seeds 2.5-3.0 cm long, 1.2-1.4 cm in diam. (S.F. Glassman. 1979)/Palmweb.
Description: Solitary, monoecious, pinnate leaves. The trunk is covered by old leaf bases, which are elongated and arranged in an orderly manner around the entire perimeter. 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. Inflorescence: pleonantic, interfoliar, flexuose, 1- 1.3 m long, protected by two woody, ridged spathes. Yellow flowers in groups of 3, with 3 sepals, 3 petals and 6 stamens in male flowers. It blooms in spring and fructifies in summer. 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, ............. yatay. (K. Soares & S. Longhi) (From the portuguese)
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.
Comments and Curiosities
Native to Southern Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, this palm is thought to be the most graceful of the genus, reaching over 10m in height in the wild, and forming huge stands of trees, numbering millions. With good hardiness to cold, many palms have been imported to Northern Europe in recent years. (butia.nl)
Leaves: 1.5- 2.5 m long, with approximately 140 leaflets. Petioles are relatively slender, with bumps on the margins, turning into curved, sharp, about 2 cm long gray spines in the highest part of the petiole, transforming to fibers at the broad leaf bases . Such fibers form a sort of brown and rough burlap between the leaf bases. The petiole is adaxially flat at the base and becomes keel-like up the rachis. (Jose A. Grassia)
Fruit: ovate, pointed, 5 x 2.5 cm, yellow-orange when ripe, with a thick mesocarp and protected at the base by bracts and a sort of spike on the end. Fruits are edible and often used in jelly and liqueur. One thin, elongated seed per fruit, which may sprout in 90-180 days. It is common to find seeds with more than one embryo. (Jose A. Grassia)
Distribution: It occurs naturally in both coasts of the Uruguay River in Argentina and the Republic of Uruguay. The highest concentrations of these palms occur between 30º and 33° S, especially in northeastern Argentina, at “Palmar de Colón” in the province of Entre Rios and the “Palmares de Quebracho, Chapicuy, Porrua and Mujica in the Republic of Uruguay. Note that in Spanish, a forest made up mostly of palm trees is called “palmar”. (Jose A. Grassia)
“Palmar de Colón” is considered the largest concentration of natural monospecific palms of the Americas, covering a strip of land that borders the Uruguay River with a width of approximately 10-25 km and a length of 100 km, totalling an area of about 100,000 hectares, which means about 30 million specimens of B. yatay. (Jose A. Grassia)
At present, farming, repeated burning of grasslands, invasion by exotic flora, the action of herbivores and trampling by livestock, have drastically reduced the number of palms. Only 8500 hectares are protected within a National Park, with an approximately 250 years old population of nearly 2 million specimens of Butia yatay. (Jose A. Grassia)
The effects of radiation and seed dispersal have extended the original boundaries of this natural habitat of B. yatay, so that, nowadays, specimens of this species can be found throughout the provinces of Entre Ríos, Corrientes, east of Santa Fe along the Parana River and south of Misiones, all these territories in Argentina. (Jose A. Grassia)
Meanwhile, in the Republic of Uruguay, Butia yatay has a natural habitat on the east coast of the Uruguay River in the County of Salto and Paysandú, although the population density is much lower than on the western bank of that river.Butia yatay can also be found in the south of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil, but in isolated populations and a low number of specimens. (Jose A. Grassia)
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- Palms of Argentina by Jose A. Grassia.
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.