Butyagrus x nabonnandii
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Distribution & Habitat:
Not a species in its own right, this palm is a hybrid between Butia capitata and Syagrus romanzoffiana. It occurs naturally where both Butia capitata and Syagrus romanzoffiana occur together, throughout Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. It is also being produced manually in cultivation by hand pollination due to its desireability as a landscape palm, in which case the correct name is xButyagrus nabonnandii , named after the Frenchman who pioneered the process.
A large fast growing pinnate palm , desired in cultivation because of its similarity to the coconut palm, with considerable cold hardiness. When seed is produced it is almost always sterile hence its common name the 'mule' palm.
During my visit to Brazil I saw several of these natural hybrids dotted around. Interestingly, given its reputation for sterility , I also observed what appeared to be F2 hybrids , presumably the result of pollen from Butyagrus reaching Butia flowers. One of the F2 hybrids was producing seed of its own with good embryos, but unfortunately the palm seems to lose its grace and vigour beyond the first generation making it a less attractive prospect for cultivation.
A largish fast growing palm with a tall trunk it is ideal as a landscape palm, and can survive in quite a cool climate. It has been known to recover from temperatures as low as -10C.
Nigel Kembrey, Hardy Palms (Text & Figure 1&2)