Parajubaea torallyi

Synonymy: Unknown Distribution: Bolivia
Common names: Palma chico, Bolivian mountain coconut Conservation status: Unknown

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Large adult

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Palm in habitat

Parajubaea torallyi is one of the most stunning of all palms, combining the majestic appearance of a Jubaea with the robustness and speed of growth of a Syagrus. Native to Bolivia, it grows in the dry and dusty, inter-Andean valleys to over 3000 m (10000 ft.). There are two disjunct populations that differ mainly in fruit size and have recently been described as two distinct varieties, the small fruited P. torallyi var. microcarpa and the large-fruited P. torallyi var. torallyi. While not drastically different in appearance, var. microcarpa does not reach quite the dimensions of its large fruited cousin, but in terms of adaptability and robustness, it falls nothing short of it. The seeds have an unfair reputation of being very unreliable to germinate. Although germination can be somewhat erratic, the seeds will eventually sprout quite happily when sown under proper conditions, i.e. on the surface of seed beds, buried only halfway, and kept only slightly moist. With proper care, in a cool temperate to mild subtropical climate and a place in full sun, seedlings will quickly develop into tall, robust-trunked palms with large, shuttlecock-like crowns of finely pinnate, leathery leaves. Its tolerance to drought, heat, cold, frost, and other adverse conditions, and its ability to maintain a great appearance, causes some to say that this legendary palm not only has enormous potential as an ornamental, but that it could become one of the most desirable landscaping palms for warm temperate and subtropical areas.

Photos courtesy and copyright 1999, Ed Brown; taken in Vallegrande, Bolivia.

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