Butia paraguayensis

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Butia (boo-TEE-ah)
Extreme N.W. Uruguay. Photo by Gaston Torres Vera
Scientific Classification
Genus: Butia (boo-TEE-ah)
Butia arenicola.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Yatay guazu (Paraguay), yatay poñi (Argentina), coco amargoso (Sao Paulo, Brazil). Dwarf yatay, Arrastradiza palm, Dwarf Yatay Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Butia paraguayensis is found in Argentina Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Paraguay, Uruguay. Paraguay, Argentina (province of Corrientes) and Brazil (states of Santa Catarina, Sao Paulo, and Mato Grosso) in campos, cerrados and pastures. (S.F. Glassman. 1979)/Palmweb.

In habitat. Photo-Rare Palm Seeds.com

A dwarf Butia species, from the open grass lands of N Argentina Paraguay, and Southern Brazil.


Trunk type: Solitary, trunk usually subterranean, rarely reaches more than eight inches in diameter. Hight: Reaching a maximum of 2 meters upon maturity. Spread: 3 meters. Leaf detail: Large, elegant, silver green to bluish green, slightly recurving pinnate leaves, petiole unarmed. Flower: Large, woody spathe without groves. Fruit: Brownish yellow, up to 1.6 inches long (4 cm). ovoid. Acaulescent, or with short trunk 1-2 m tall, 10-20 cm in diam.; sheathing base about 20 cm long, petiole 45-48 cm long, margins mostly with short spines interspersed with fibers; rachis of leaf 57-93 cm long; pinnae 40-42 on each side, regularly arranged, middle ones 45-55 cm long, 0.8-1.5 cm wide, mostly with acute, asymmetrical tips; expanded part of spathe 40-60 cm long, 4-8 cm wide, smooth or striate, brownish-pubescent at first, becoming glabrous with age; branched part of spadix 35-38 cm long, rachillae 38-43, each 20-23 em long; pistillate flowers ovoid, 10-16 mm long, 6-9 mm in diam.; lower staminate flowers 8-13 mm long, upper ones 4-7 mm long; mature fruit ovoid 3.0-3.7 cm long, 2.1-2.3 cm in diam., beak conspicuous, angled, persistent perianth 1.51.8 cm high, locules 1-3, mature seeds not seen. Editing by edric. (S.F. Glassman. 1979)/Palmweb.


This dwarf Butia is most useful as an ornamental palm in the temperate and subtropical garden where it will tolerate summer heat and extreme cold. Drought tolerant, and some frost tolerance. Requirements: Full sun, fast draining soil, do not water overhead.

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Comments and Curiosities

Believed to be a variety of B. yatay.

Seed is used for fish bate in native Paraguay.

"Until mature, this plant looks a lot like Butia odortata... tends to be more upright in habit (less arch to leaves) and slower and smaller overall. From Paraguay and surrounding countries. Very drought tolerant palm, but prone to rot (very) if watered from overhead... best to water this one with a hose or use drip irrigation." (Geoff Stein)

An interesting, rare, dwarf Butia, this palm rarely grows to more than 180 cm (6 ft) tall. It has a short, slender trunk and strongly arching, blue-green leaves, with the leaflets held in a V-shape. (RPS.com)

Dichotomous key for identification of species of the genus Butia occurring in the state of Rio Grande do South (including Butia paraguayensis naturally occurring doubtful).

1. Female flowers with up to 9 mm long, cored fruit or slightly rounded oval, Bract stalk covered with dense tomentum lanuginous brown coloration ............ Butia eriospatha.

2. Bract stalk smooth, glauca, without tomentum lanuginous, Plant with stems up to 2 feet tall and 15-43 cm in diameter; bract of the inflorescence stalk widest above the middle portion and ending abruptly in a short beak; fruits more long than wide, narrow-oblong............ Butia catarinensis.

3. Plant with stems up to 9 feet tall and 32-58 cm in diameter; bract of the inflorescence stalk wider near the middle portion of the expanded portion and gradually tapering towards the apex; fruits often wider than long ............. Butia odorata.

4. Female flowers with more than 10 mm in length; cored elongated rounded never 2. Plants with capacity issue tillers (stems caespitose)............. Butia lallemantii.

5.Plant capacity without perfilhar (single stem), Acaulescentes adult plants or stems of up to 2 meters; expanded portion of the bract peduncle 40-60 cm long, rachis inflorescence with 13-30 cm,............ paraguayensis.

6. Adult plants with 3-9 (-15) m tall; expanded portion of the peduncular bract 55-85 cm between long, rachis inflorescence 47-72 cm long with Leaves with 43-61 pinnae on each side of the rachis, pinnae of the middle part of the rachis with 40-65 x 2.3 - 2.8 cm; ripe fruit with 3.6 to 5.6 x 3.0 to 4.1 cm, weighing between 23.61 to 43.05 grams; endocarp new fruits 2.8-3.5 x 1.6-2.3 cm and weighing between 3.61 to 10.11 grams (pyrene) with 3 corners Longitudinal visible, giving an almost pyramidal side where the pores are. It is the Butia with largest fruit and endocarp of the genre.............. witeckii

7. Leaves with (57 -) 63-78 pinnae on each side of the rachis, pinnae of the middle part of the rachis with (58 -) 65-77 x 2.0-2.4 cm; ripe fruit with 3.0 to 4.1 x 1.5 to 2.8 cm, weighing between 8.91 - 15.39 grams; cored fruit with new 1.8-3.0 x 1.0-1.4 inches and weighing between 1.42 to 2.96 grams (pyrene) without longitudinal edges and cone shaped on the side where the pores are, ............. yatay. (K. Soares & S. Longhi) (From the portuguese)

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to Palmweb.org, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Glassman, S.F.1979. Re-evaluation of the Genus Butia With a Description of a New Species. Principes 23: 65-79.

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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