I believe that this is a young Chilean wine palm, although I am not certain.

Italian Americans, particularly Californians, are expected to be experts in regard to wine. I am not. I can not explain it. I dislike wine, especially the best of it. It smells and tastes like rotten grapes. When I learned that Chilean wine palms were, and might still be, decapitated for the collection of their sap, from which wine is made, I learned yet another reason to dislike wine.

This little Chilean wine palm, Jubaea chilensis, pictured above, lives just a block or so away from the bad date palm that I wrote about last Sunday. No one here will try to make wine from its sap. The utility cables that seem to be too close in the background actually pass with plenty of clearance to the right, so will not be a problem in the future. This young palm should be safe.

Although I have encountered too few of the species in my career to be completely certain that this little palm is a well bred Chilean wine palm, it is very convincing. I see no indication that it is a hybrid of another species. About half of the Chilean wine palms that I encounter are hybrids. Most of these are hybrids of queen palm. Others are hybrids of pindo palm. Both look weird.

Of course, well bred Chilean wine palms are not much better. The specimen pictured below demonstrates that, regardless of how bold and striking they are, they are still rather weird palms. That is probably why they are so rare now. They were rare even during the Victorian Period, when weird species were trendy. Yet to many, their distinctive weirdness is part of their allure.

I can not help but wonder where this Chilean wine palm came from. Someone must really appreciate it to put it here.

Chilean wine palm is not a good houseplant.

17 thoughts on “Bad Wine

  1. Something I have never heard of. I cannot imagine a palm having berries for wine making. But I am with you on the wine. I am not a fan and dislike white wine absolutely. The only red wine I might make an exception for is a very dark red wine, the Italian Montepulciano, which for me has a very earthy taste, but I like the taste.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Palm wine is actually made of the sap rather than the fruit. Unfortunately, the process of collecting the sap involves cutting the top off, which kills the trees.


  2. When I lived in Liberia, West Africa, palm wine was part of life. The technique of collecting it was much quicker than fermenting berries. Someone would shinny up the tree and tap it near the top of the trunk, then hang a gourd: much like spring sugaring in New England. The collected liquid — the sap — was the wine. It began to ferment almost immediately, and the longer it sat around, the yeastier it got. Eventually, it could be used for bread-making.

    It was slightly effervescent, and a little milky. The taste wasn’t bad, but it’s not something I long for. It always was offered to visitors to a bush village, and you had to learn to strain the occasional grubs out with your teeth.

    One of my high school teachers had a tree growing through the roof of his house. I haven’t thought of that in decades.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There are a few restaurants in Oklahoma where trees are part of the structure like your photo shows. I think it looks ridiculous, and usually, there are signs of water damage inside from the roof leaking. Nature cannot be tamed or CONTAINED.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Palm tree trunks do not expand as they continue to grow vertically, but they do move slightly in the wind, which is probably why the trunk in the picture is wrapped in a blue tarp. Trees are too dynamic to fit into architecture.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hmm. Someone just offered me a mango seedling and I was tempted, but the prospect of having to cut a hole in the roof for it put me off. Plus the climate isn’t quite right.


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