Chilean Wine Palm
A truly iconic palm, formed of a bulging grey trunk which tapers towards a crown of gorgeous arching leaves, which start green and turn blue-grey as they mature.
This hardy and striking species has the widest trunk of any palm, contrasting with the sweeping feathery fronds that sit atop it.
Native to Chile, Jubaea chilensis is one of the most southernly growing palms in the world.
It was named Jubaea for King Juba II, the ruler of the ancient kingdom of Numidia in North West Africa (modern day Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and some parts of Morocco) who had a great interest in botany.
King Juba II was a patron of arts and sciences, and had many scientific exploits, including naming Euphorbia after his physician Euphorbus.
A Palm of Many Uses
Outside of cultivation, in the wild in its native habitat, Jubaea chilensis is a protected species as it has become threatened due to its incredibly wide range of uses.
It produces a fruit, known as Coquitos (Little Coconuts) in Chile, which is edible and tastes similar to coconuts. The seeds too are edible, both raw and cooked, and can be used to produce oil.
The leaves are widely used in basket making and thatching, and the fibres are collected to stuff mattresses and to make paper.
Even the sap is useful, being harvested to produce palm wine and syrup, hence the name ‘Chilean Wine Palm’. A single tapped Jubaea can harvest 400 litres of sap, flowing over several months,. However, this harvesting kills the plant, and is a cause of its protected status it it’s native range.
Care & Size Guidance
Jubaea chilensis requires sun and good drainage, but otherwise this slow growing palm will grow unprotected throughout much of the UK.
Jubaea chilensis can grow to a mighty height and width which could outgrow its space. However, it is a slow growing palm, taking as long as 10 to 20 years for a trunk to form, and up to 60 years for it to produce a seed.