Native to the Brazil and Uruguay but prevalent throughout South America is the pindo palm, or jelly palm (Butia capitata). Today, this palm is quite prevalent throughout the southern United States where it is grown both as an ornamental and for its tolerance to the hot, dry climate. Pindo palm trees bear fruit too, but the question is, “can you eat pindo palm fruit?”. Read on to find out if the fruit of the pindo palm is edible and jelly palm fruit uses, if any.
Jelly palms do indeed bear edible pindo fruit, although with the abundance of fruit dangling from the palms and its absence from the consumer market, most people have no idea the fruit of the pindo palm is not only edible but delicious.
Once a staple of practically every southern yard, the pindo palm is now more often thought of as a nuisance. This is in large part due to the fact that pindo palm tree fruit can make a mess on lawns, driveways, and paved walkways. The palm makes such a mess because of the astounding amount of fruit it produces, more than most households can consume.
And yet, the popularity of permaculture and an interest in urban harvesting is bringing the idea of edible pindo fruit back into vogue once again.
The pindo palm is also called the jelly palm due to the fact that the edible fruit has lots of pectin in it. They are also called wine palms in some regions, those that make a cloudy but heady wine from the fruit.
The tree itself is a medium sized palm with pinnate palm leaves that arch towards the trunk. It attains heights of between 15-20 feet (4.5-6 m.). In the late spring, a pink flower emerges from amongst the palm leaves. In the summer, the tree fruits and is laden with yellow/orange fruit that’s about the size of a cherry.
Descriptions of the flavor of the fruit vary, but generally speaking, it appears to be both sweet and tart. The fruit is sometimes described as slightly fibrous with a large seed that tastes like a combination between a pineapple and an apricot. When ripe, the fruit drops to the ground.
Jelly palm fruits from early summer (June) to as late as November in the U.S. The fruit is often ingested raw, although some find the fibrous quality a bit off putting. Many folks simply chew on the fruit and then spit out the fiber.
As the name suggests, the high amount of pectin renders the use of the fruit of the pindo palm almost a match made in heaven. I say “almost” because although the fruit does contain a significant amount of pectin which will help to thicken the jelly, it isn’t enough to completely thicken and you will likely need to add additional pectin to the recipe.
The fruit can be used to make jelly immediately after harvest or the pit removed and the fruit frozen for later use. As mentioned, the fruit can also be used to make wine.
The discarded seeds are 45% oil and in some countries are used to make margarine. The core of the tree is also edible, but utilizing it will kill the tree.
So those of you in southern regions, think about planting a pindo palm. The tree is hardy and fairly cold tolerant and makes not only a lovely ornamental but an edible addition to the landscape.
Complete answer to this is here. Correspondingly, are palm tree seeds edible?
If you want to be absolutely accurate, almost all palm fruits are edible, though I would not really recommend eating most of them. The actual fruit parts of these palms is just the fibrous, mostly inedible seed coating surrounding the nut or seed.
Similarly, how do you germinate Foxtail palm seeds? Picking foxtail palm seeds is best when the seeds are unblemished and overripe, as very ripe seeds are more likely to germinate. Soak the seeds in warm water for 48 to 72 hours to loosen the pulp. Change the water daily. Discard any seeds that float to the top and keep the ones that sink to the bottom.
Also Know, are palm tree seeds poisonous to humans?
The yellow palm, reed palm, cane palm, bamboo palm, parlor palm and dwarf palm are non-toxic if the leaves or seeds are ingested by animals or humans, notes the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Do foxtail palms produce fruit?
Like all plants, palms produce flowers and seeds. After flowering, a more mature foxtail bears a large, heavy cluster of fruit containing seeds. The fruit is showy and bright red, each one the size of a small tomato.
IDENTIFICATION: An upright palm to 50 feet, pinnate compound leaves to three feet. Flowers white to cream, fruit green turning light orange then bright orange. Often you will see a palm with a bulge in the middle with a skinny trunk on bottom and top. That means it was neglected, then fed and watered well, then neglected again.
TIME OF YEAR: Fruits in late fall or the winter months
ENVIRONMENT: Acidic, well-drained sandy soil in full sun. Likes ample moisture and is slightly salt tolerant. Cold hardy to 20 F.
METHOD OF PREPARATION: The sticky, sweet pulp can be eaten off the seed, or made into wine or jelly. The seed oil is used for cooking. The palm’s inner pith dried might be a flour substitute.
love the raw fruit, you should do a edible raw page similar to your edible flowers where they are grouped together. thank you for all your knowledge and willingness to put a page like this up
I attended your class in Meade Gardens a couple months ago and wrote down 40 names of plants you identified. Evidently I misspelled a number of them as I can’t find them on your blog.
Also, I can’t identify several plants near my house. May I suggest that you have a seminar, possibly regularly, to allow people (particularly rank beginners) bring specimens to be identified? Also, perhaps, to correct spelling?
I’m doing fine with the thistles, sprouted Moranga,
Thanks for writing. My blog is very unforgiving for misspellings, which irritates even me as I am a poor speller. Might I suggest you first try them in Google which works on the principle that close is good and might produce the correct spelling you are looking for. A seminar is an interesting idea. The Winter Park library has a coffee shop and a little out door area. Maybe one could do a seminar there for a couple of hours.
i eat these all the time there quite good!
Can you eat the white coconut looking flesh inside the nut/seed?
I have, but it’s an awful lot of work for a tiny morsel of coconut. It tastes just like coconut. In many respects, the Queen Palm fruit is like a miniature coconut with the fibrous outer body and the little nut inside.
Purchased 4 of these at SAM’S this evening for $26 a piece,can’t wait to plant around my pool.Great article.
I don’t recommend planting these close to pools. I have two near my pool and the droppings from the blooms are a headache
I am new to Florida. This is the BEST website I have found for information.
Thank you so much for all your hard work.
How long can the juice of the queen palm be stored in the refrigerator before using it to make jelly? Thanks
Until mold starts. Better to freeze it.
I wondered if you could help me, I want to harvest the seeds from my Queen palms, but there seems to be different opinions on how it should be done. Some say the seeds should be taken out of the fleshy part while the fruit is still green ,then as much of the hairy outside taken of ,then 3 days in water,then in a sealed plastic bag in a warm area (I’m not sure),others say wait till the fruit is ripe (orange)and maybe even falls off by itself then start the same process,I’m not sure which is right. Also even though all the fruits are still green ,I found a lot of seeds on the ground around the trees,it seems they either fell of and dried out in a previous season or were eaten clean(some seem quite small,others like they are still in the process of drying). Can I do anything with these ,plant them in other words. I would really appreciate your help if you can.
Plant them? Sure, but improving their germination is beyond my area of expertise.
Queen palms are not good landscape plans because they are prone to falling during a hurricane as reported in the book Stormscaping (Florida Gardening Series, Vol. 3) by Pamela Crawford.
I’ll chance it. I like the fruit.
Ours did fine during Irma. A lot of landscapers don’t dig deep enough when they plant palms. If there is a hard pan, that is as deep as the roots will go, so if the hard pan is 2 1/2 feet deep, but the landscaper only dug 2 feet, then the roots will be 2/12 feet deep, even if the tree is 30 feet tall. We saw them all over the place after the hurricane. Big palms with almost no root ball.
I had a Queen Palm at my house for over 50 years and it never had a problem with any hurricanes, it did die when the neighbor decided to put in a new fence and the pole hole full of cement was right next to it…
All of ours have held up to all the south florida hurricanes the past 20 years. The only ones we lost out of 10 were two due to severe lighting damage. Yet, our neighbor’s have lost a royal palm every year from lighting for the last 6 years. This year the poor tree was replaced twice.
On a recent camping outing to the Bolivar peninsula on the Texas coast, (a ferry ride east of Galveston Island) I spotted a beautiful palm outside of a bait shop that seems to fit your description of the Queen palm. It was mid February and the tree had huge clusters of yellow-orange fruits hanging on it, as well as a good number of fallen fruits on the ground below which I picked up with the intention of growing. When I peeled the fibrous outer material off of one of the drier fruits I found a hard seed that looked like a very miniature coconut inside. It has the same shape as a coconut including three tiny “eyes” on one end. I found it intriguing. Do you think this is a Queen palm? I would like to know since I plan to sprout and grow the seeds so I would like to know what I have.
Sounds like one to me. Got a picture?
Tough tree to look after when mature. Invades native forests. Fruit Bats have spread nuts into some of the most pristine rainforest left in Nth Queensland. They grow aggressively on the margins or at breaks in the canopy. Please no more for Nth Qld. Foxtail palms are a better choice for beauty but the fruit isn’t edible.
There is a very attractive variant called the Silver Queen. It has over 30 fronds and looks like a giant puff ball. It is also more cold resistant and grows to 80 feet. Mine has withstood 14°. Most of the fronds died but the tree survived easily. The fronds have a slight silvery color to them. All in all it is a more attractive and durable tree than the standard Queen Palm.
I am upset. We have/had a beautiful Queen Palm with seeds and all. It is taller than our house. Today my husband hired a man that came to our door to cut out the seed fronds. Not only did he cut those, but he cut them all but a few on the top of the tree. I can see how it will take several years before it will have those beautiful hanging fronds again. But my main concern is the health of our tree. I fear this will endanger our tree. What can I do to help it through the rest of this hot summer?
The queen will sprout every year at the same time. Don’t worry about the severe trimming, it is actually good for the tree. Ours can be trimmed back every year and the fruit still shows up on time!
Cutting off Green does not help palms. Look at palms in a natural setting. Those palms that are untouched will usually be the healthiest. A palm that is un touched can shade itself from the sun, feed itself by photosyntheses. and collect more water. Don’t cut green off a palm.
Small clarification here. Flying foxes don’t have the ability to echolocate. They are big diurnal bats (5-6ft wingspan) that find food by sight and smell.
What type of press is used to press the seed into oil?
There are several hand-operated seeds presses.
P lease help me. Can the nuts/seeds be used as live stock and poultry feeds and how can it be done.
further more i would like to know the nutrients in the seeds(nuts) which is helpful for both livestock and poultry. In my country the resident do not enjoy them as edible fruit
And can it serve the purpose of poultry and livestock with out pressing oil from them.
Are the fruits from all palms edible (and palatable)?
NO! Some have calcium oxalates in them which generally renders them not edible.
I noticed your comment that queen palms are common in northern Australia. They are also very common in the south as garden plants – not sure about in Tasmania though. I live in Perth and they are everywhere. My daughter’s large dog was fond of eating the fruit whole, it didn’t seem to do any harm but did have an interesting final outcome!
I can not find any recipes. Any links or simple ways to jar/keep these little gems.
I have been experimenting with queen Palm fruits. My first attempt was fairly successful. I washed then boiled the fruits-about 2X volume of water to 1X volume of whole fruits. The fibrous fruit slowly softened off the nut-but was not completely removed, even when agitated. Maybe more water? Regardless I strained off the thick orange liquid and tossed the nuts. The liquid was sweet and smelled like pumpkin and apricots. I reached for the pumpkin pie spice, and added eggs and egg whites- cooking gently to form a rough custard. After pouring into custard cups and refrigerated. I did not add anything but eggs. They were DELICIOUS! I didn’t tell my family what was in them – topped with whipped cream-the only question was ‘is there more?’
My next attempts will include a more smooth flan, jelly, pie- maybe a cheesecake!
Thanks! Going to try the fruit. Hope my guts tolerate.
My neighbors have a lot of Queen palms along our mutual fence line. I recently noticed that my burros are eating the fallen fruit. Seeds and all. Do you know if this will hurt them? They are very crunchy and that is what caught my attention that they were eating them.
I have no specific information about that. The entire fruit, seed and all, are edible by humans though that does not hold true for equines (they cannot eat avocados for example.) My concern would be more along the lines of persimmons, which horses shouldn’t eat. They don’t digest it well and it forms a ball that has to be surgically removed from their gut. I think if I saw palm fruit fiber and seed husks in their manure that would be a sign things are going through well.
Are there people near Panama City, Florida who have knowledge of edible wild plants and also an interest in sharing what they know? I live near some genuinely rural pine forests and a number of spring fed ponds. Econfina Creek is near. There are plants of every type and description growing everywhere, and I can identify maybe five of them.
i dont like the mess the queen palm makes, so i cut the long spear off before it opens. will doing this harm it in any way if so could someone let me know. thank you.
Cautionary “tail”: I raise Labradors. We have an enormous park like yard & lots of various palms. The Segos were removed long ago: very toxic to pets. Labs eat everything in sight until they mature or are taught not to–if you are lucky. Some always see the world as a smorgasbord. Fortunately, when a 9 mo. old puppy ate a bunch, his smart system regurgitated the fibrous seeds back up over the next 12 hours. I think we were lucky. Pups, esp. Labs who eat anything & everything, should be protected from the fruit. It is very yummy. But the indigestible fibrous seeds could send a pup to the hospital or worse. So we cut the the fruit off our Queens long before they mature & fall. Our trees only produce fruit every several years.
How do you know when to cut before the fruit mature?
I was about to cut the fronds and Seed clusters from our two trees. Thanks to your website, I will harvest the fruit. We lost our dachshund because he kept eating the fruit seeda and all. He always coughed up the seeds until the last time. He would eat everything, aluminum cans, hard candy, chocolate and nothing bothered his system. He funally got a seed stuck while we slept. Lesson learned.
I’m so glad I found this blog. I need help with our palm. We have a 30 year old (I’m guessing based on the age of the house) Queen Palm outside our picture window, which we are very attached to. We’re guessing it’s 20-25ft. Today I noticed a little bark damage under two completely dried, dead fronds rubbing against the trunk in the winds. We weren’t planning to trim the fronds immediately, but now we might. We live in Phoenix, AZ, so very hot, dry, and sunny. Does the health of these palms suffer if the dead fronds aren’t trimmed? Also, are dead fronds at the base (lots of healthy green ones on top) normal or a sign of a problem? I wish I could post a pic. Thank you for any help!!
Nature does not trim dead fronds. They are not a problem to the palm.
In Florida I have a couple of Queen palms and they have been dropping fruit. I have fed them to my pet goats and they like them, funny as they chew off the meat and spit out the seed. Now there is so much dropping and starting to rot. I want to catch the dropped fruit on a tarp and would like to make a jelly or preserve from them. Any information on doing this would be appreciated.
Hi Jerry. I just started collecting ours. I tied a tarp around the tree and strung the edges up to catch the fruit. It seems to be working. I’m looking for a jelly recipe. Did you find one yet? Thanks.
Hello, I live near Galveston and have several types of palm trees in my yard. I got rid of the sego palms because I’m a dog owner and know how poisonous they are. Recently my dogs have been bringing me seeds that are dark brown with a golden yellow fiber inside. I have taken them out of their mouthes and tried to look them up. I have several Mexican Fan palms and Queen palms are in the adjacent yards and we have almost half acre yards. These seeds are almost an inch long and look like little coconuts. Is there any way I can send you a picture of this nut/seed/date? I really need to know because I really don’t feel safe letting my dogs out in the back with out me if these things are poisonous…note* This morning after eating a good breakfast, they brought me 2 of them. The hard dark brown skin was chewed off and the golden inside cracked. They like these! Plz help! TY, Teresa Sturrock from Texas!
Absolutely hilarious and fascinating! I am a Midwesterner going on my 7th week of an unplanned stay in Florida (not flying back due to COVID) and have become increasingly curious about all of the palms around here. I loved the background on the naming and will now look at the queen palm outside our door with much more appreciation!
I have an oil press that can handle a seed the size of the Queen palm nut. My question is what time in the pod or seed cluster production is best to harvest? (1) as the nuts turn orange cut the pods off and shake the nuts onto tarps ready for pressing. (2) placing tarps under trees to capture seeds as they fall of the trees. (3) either way the seeds need to be rinsed to wash dust and debris allowing drainage and air drying before feeding into hopper of oil press.
can you kidly post details as to how queen palm is different from coconut plumosa. by what age queen palm starts yielding fruits. do they yield in particular season or round the year.
Thank you for sharing such interesting information on this Queen Palm. Last year was the first time I came to realize the seed were edible. Of course i tasted a fruit and was amazed how tasty it was. I ended up making juice and freezing after researching. i am now harvesting this year’s crop. I will be making the custard that was shared by one of your many students. Keep up the good work.
I have three large Queen Palm trees in my yard. I’ve not had them trimmed yet, this year nor their seed pods. I now have gallons of fruit if I want them. I gathered a nice bunch of them today to experiment. Warning. You can get a pulp like liquid from them, but it’s very thick and sticky. Can anyone here tell me how I can thin it out, so it’s more usable? It smells weird, but tastes like a sweet banana with a nutty hint. I took on too many this time around, but I don’t want to give up yet. I simmer them in water for an hour, but I didn’t them them cool long enough. Maybe that’s why it was so thick? Any information you all can provide would be much appreciated. I’d really like to come up with a jelly. I’m no jelly maker, but I’m hoping someone here will have an idea or even a good recipe. Thanks in advance, I’ll be waiting. =]
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Evaluating the usefulness of the plants in your yard is a big part of permaculture once you understand what each plant does, you will know if it is useful either to you, to wildlife or to the environment, or if it is causing harm. There are many food-producing plants that we think of as weeds or as ornamentals. Always, always, always be sure before you pop something in your mouth. So by identifying your plants you can add to your diet, and if something is already successfully growing in your yard and you can use it, fantastic!
You’ve probably walked past them, or even looked askance at the dropped fruit without realizing. Also called Jelly Palms, the pindo palm is a common landscape tree for drought-tolerant hot areas. The fronds look very pokey, but are rather soft. That is a relief because once you’ve tasted the ripe fruit you’ll be thrashing through the fronds trying to pick more of them.
Pindo palms (Butia capitata) are called Jelly Palms because the fruit has a lot of pectin in them. The trees are also called Wine Palms because you can make a cloudy wine from the fruit. But then, mankind has proven that you can make alcoholic beverages from just about anything.
The fruit is small and fiberous with a big seed, and falls to the ground when very ripe. They taste amazing. The burst of flavor is as if a pineapple and an apricot had a little yellowish baby. The best way to eat them is to gently chew the whole thing and swallow the juice, then spit out the fiber and seed.
We have two jelly palms at Finch Frolic Garden, only because they didn’t have identification we didn’t really know what they were. At the beginning of this year Miranda and I were evaluating the garden plants using the Three Positives rule (where everything in the garden has to give you three positive things. If it doesn’t, then it should be turned into hugelkultur or mulch). Several trees were repurposed and we were eyeing the palms. These palms are squat and short, not slim and tall like the very similar Queen palms. Fortunately for them, and as it turned out, for us, the trunks were too thick for my small chainsaw so we didn’t remove them with the others. This threat seemed to work because they set fruit on long stalks. We hesitantly tried one… and then just about ran each other over trying to get more!
Queen palms also produce an edible fruit that is sweeter, but is only edible when very ripe.
The fallen ripe fruit can attract bees and wasps because, well, everyone wants some. We waited until the stalks were just about completely ripe then cut them off and left them in a paper bag. The fruit then ripened and dropped off in the house where we could have them all.
Most of what I know about the Pindo Palm comes from the website Eat the Weeds by Greene Deane.
We cleaned them and froze them. Now we’re making Pindo Palm Jelly. Or maybe Jelly Palm Jelly, which sounds better.
Freezing and thawing the fruit actually helps break down some of the fiber and release juices, and makes them much easier to pit. The pits are high in oil, so advice for cooking the fruit whole says the jelly can pick up bitter flavor from the seeds. We sat with trays laden with cutting boards, a knife and bowls and pitted them. Yes, this is how we spend our evenings when I’m not out dancing, processing fruit and watching a movie or reruns of the Bob Newhart show or something. Yep.
The thawed fruit was easy to push away from the seed, so the process went very quickly although our fingers were pretty cold from the fruit.
We covered the pitted fruit with water and cooked it for about an hour, then strained out the fruit. There isn’t a lot of pulp because of all the fiber. We used the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s recipe which used a lot of sugar, but the juice is so tart that it needed it.
What we got was a beautiful jelly that,despite the natural and added pectin was fairly loose. The benefit was that it can be used as a syrup as well. While the flavor of the jelly isn’t quite as astonishing as the fresh fruit, the tart tropical flavor is very good.
So walk around your weeds and trees and identify them, read up on them, and perhaps you can find a treasure in your yard as we have!
(We’ll be selling Jelly Palm Jelly at our annual Marketplace here at Finch Frolic Garden on Sat. Nov. 19th, 2016)
You probably have a Pindo Palm (Butia capitata), which has big marble sized orange fruit. Pindo Palm fruit is indeed edible - also known as Jelly Palm since the fruit is sometimes used for that purpose. Yours would be the first fruiting Pindo Palm I've heard of in Atlanta. In fact I have never seen a mature, established, fruiting Pindo Palm in the northern half of Georgia. Enjoy while it lasts.
Go ahead and Google search "pindo palm fruit" and see that is what you've got as David suggested. Check the images too.
Ther is a lot of info on it.