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Jubaea chilensis

Chilean wine palm

About the plant

One of the world’s most magnificent palms, Jubaea chilensis is native to Chile in South America. A victim of its own success, this tree has been felled at great rates because of its many uses.

  • Vulnerable

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of the world’s species. The ongoing mission is to evaluate every plant species in the world.

    IUCN Red List Status:

    Not yet evaluated
    Data deficient
    Least concern
    Near threatened
    Vulnerable
    Endangered
    Critically endangered
    Extinct in the wild
    Extinct
  • Banked in the MSB
    Seeds from this plant have been banked in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, at Wakehurst in Sussex
  • Cultural use
    Plant has cultural uses, these might be every day or ceremonial
  • Human food
    Plant supplies food for humans
  • Click on icon to reveal more

Facts

  • Found in a small area of central Chile
  • Can grow to 8–15m tall
  • Sap is used for palm wine and palm syrup
  • Edible seeds
  • Leaves are used to make baskets
  • One of the most southerly occurring palms

Palm wine

Palm wine is an alcoholic drink, using the sap from palm trees, including coconut and date palms.

For most palms the sap can be extracted by tapping, but for the Chilean wine palm the sap can only be extracted by felling the tree. This is now limited under Chilean law, and it is hoped that non-destructive harvesting methods will eventually be implemented.


Record breaker

We had a specimen which reached the roof of the Temperate House. It was widely believed to be the tallest glasshouse plant in the world.

It was raised from seed in 1843. Unfortunately it had to be removed as it outgrew its spot, but new specimens have been grown from the seed of this same tree.


Not Darwin's favourite

Charles Darwin, who observed the species in Chile during his voyage on the Beagle wrote of them: “These palms are, for their family, ugly trees. Their trunk is very large, and of a curious form, being thicker in the middle than at the base or top.”

Named after King Juba II, who ruled Numidia between 85 and 46 BC, because of his great interest in botany
  • Vulnerable

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of the world’s species. The ongoing mission is to evaluate every plant species in the world.

    IUCN Red List Status:

    Not yet evaluated
    Data deficient
    Least concern
    Near threatened
    Vulnerable
    Endangered
    Critically endangered
    Extinct in the wild
    Extinct
  • Banked in the MSB
    Seeds from this plant have been banked in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, at Wakehurst in Sussex
  • Cultural use
    Plant has cultural uses, these might be every day or ceremonial
  • Human food
    Plant supplies food for humans
  • Click on icon to reveal more