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Jubaea chilensis (Chilean Wine Palm) is the sole extant species in the genus Jubaea in the palm family Arecaceae. It is native to southwestern South America, where it is endemic to a small area of central Chile, between 32°S and 35°S in southern Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Santiago, O’Higgins and northern Maule regions. It was long assumed that the extinct palm tree of Easter Island belonged to this genus too, but it is distinct and now placed in its own genus, Paschalococos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is a palm reaching heights of 25 metres (82 ft) with a trunk up to 1.3 metres (4.3 ft) in diameter at the base, often thicker higher up, and with smooth bark. The 3–5-metre (9.8–16 ft) leaves are pinnate. The largest individual specimen of indoor plant in the world is the Jubaea chilensis at Kew Gardens, England.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Etymology

The genus was named after Juba II, a Berber king and botanist.

Ecology

It needs mild winters, but will tolerate frosts down to about −15 °C (5 °F) as well as relatively cool summers, making it one of the hardiest of pinnate-leaved palms; this is because it grows up to 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) above sea level in its natural habitat. In the wild, the tree lives almost exclusively on the steep slopes of ravines.

Economic uses

The common name refers to the past use of the sap from the trunk of this palm to produce a fermented beverage. The sap is also boiled down into a syrup and sold locally as miel de palma.

The tree also produces small round fruits that are about 2–3 centimetres (0.79–1.2 in) in diameter. The fruit has a very hard outer shell and has a whitish meat on the inside. The fresh nuts are normally sold in the areas where the palms grow during the fruiting season.

Conservation

The species is partially protected within Chile, although pressures of human overpopulation and expansion of grazing area have reduced the population of the Chilean Wine Palm in recent centuries.[2] Unlike most other palm wines, collecting the sap requires cutting down the tree; this harvesting also has reduced the population of Jubaea.

 

Written on February 20th, 2012 , Botany, Forestry Tags:

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