July's Palm of the Month:
Chilean Wine Palm
The Chilean Wine Palm is a wonderfully gray-blue fan-fronded palm from the sheltered and isolated coastal valleys of Chile! It is a rare and striking species of palm that thrives well in California's mild weather southern and central coastal regions, and in similar Mediterranean climates in Europe, Africa, and Australia. It features an amazingly thick trunk and its growth is exceptionally slow. In Chile, it is native of areas that neither experience cold nor hot weather. Average temperatures would vary by far less than 30 degrees annually.
Its common name gives us a clue to its earliest usage. Native populations of Jubaea chilensis were exploited for its well-known deliciously sweet sap that was fermented and transformed into a potent alcoholic beverage. This practice is outlawed now, but unfortunately, the Jubaea's numbers were decreased dramatically before protection was officially mandated.
Specific Characteristics of the Chilean Wine Palm are the following:
Mature Height: 70 feet
Hardiness: from 6 degrees C to 25 degrees C.
Rate of Growth: Very Slow
Salt Tolerance: Low (not suitable for close-to-beach areas)
Drought Tolerance: Excellent (after initial need for regular watering after planting)
Light Requirements: High
Habit: Solitary with "substantial" crown of ice-blue fan-shaped leaves
Trunk: 4 to 6 ft. dark gray trunk that features leaf scars but is unarmed.
Flower Colour: Purple
Fruit1 1/2" orangey-yellow clusters of fruit.
In its appropriate climate range, the Chilean Wine Palm, Jubaea chilensis, should be vigourously planted as it is a true sentinel tree that can be appreciated for many generations to come. One plants a Jubaea for a century of regal stature and civilised enjoyment!
Paul, "The Palm Doctor!"