Forest 26 - Chilean Wine Palm

Jubaea chilensis

Chilean wine palm forest. Photo not from the Arboretum Fruits of Chilean wine palm. Photo not from the Arboretum

Other common names

Coquito Palm. Spanish - Palma Chilena, Coquito de Chile

Origin of the species name

Jubaea is named after King Juba II of Numidia and Mauretania (82 BC - 23 AD); chilensis refers to the species' Chilean origin.



Date planted



Chilean wine palms can live for several hundred years.

General description

This is a palm with a trunk that has smooth grey bark and is often thicker higher up. It is said to be the most massive of all palms. The dark green leaves are pinnate and up to 5m long. The flowers are produced on long, branched shoots and the oval to round fruits are bright yellow when ripe. Height 25m Spread 5m.

Natural distribution and habitat  

The species is endemic to a small area of central Chile where it grows up to 1,400 metres above sea level in woodlands almost exclusively on the steep slopes of dry ravines.

Conservation status

It is classified as a threatened species. Although it is partially protected within Chile, pressures of human overpopulation and expansion of grazing area have reduced the population of the Chilean Wine Palm in recent centuries. Unlike most other palm wines, collecting the sap requires cutting down the tree and this harvesting also has reduced its natural populations.


The sap from the Chilean wine palm is fermented into a palm wine or made into a sweet syrup (palm honey, miel de palma) for cooking. Sap is drained from the trunks over a period lasting several months, sometimes yielding more than 300 litres.  Edible seeds are also harvested and the leaves are used to make baskets.

Planting pattern

Planted in curved rows.

Further reading

Jones, D (1995) Palms Throughout the World. Smithsonian Books.

Chilean wine palm Tree Story by Susan Parsons.