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 32S and 35S in southern Coquimbo, Valparaiso, 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 with a trunk up to in diameter at the base, often thicker higher up, and with smooth bark. The leaves are pinnate. The largest individual specimen of indoor plant in the world is the Jubaea chilensis at Kew, England.
The genus was named after Juba II, a Berber king and botanist.
It needs mild winters, but will tolerate frosts down to about as well as relatively cool summers, making it one of the hardiest of pinnate-leaved palms; this is because it grows up to above sea level in its natural habitat. In the wild, the tree lives almost exclusively on the steep slopes of ravines.
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 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.
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. Unlike most other palm wines, collecting the sap requires cutting down the tree; this harvesting also has reduced the population of Jubaea.
C. Donoso (2005) Arboles nativos de Chile. Guia de reconocimiento. Edicion 4. Marisa Cuneo Ediciones, Valdivia, Chile. 136p
Listed as Vulnerable (VU A1cd v2.3)
Information from Encyclopedia of Chilean Flora
C. Michael Hogan (2008) Chilean Wine Palm: Jubaea chilensis, GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. Nicklas Stromberg
Pictures and information from grower
Floridata: Jubaea chilensis; description and places in Europe where it has been introduced
Philip W. Rundel (2002) The Chilean Wine Palm
Palm & Cycad Society of Australia: Jubaea chilensis
Cultivation in northern Europe
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Jubaea