Butia eriospatha is a large species of Butia from the table lands of southern Brazil . It is very similar to Butia odorata but is easily distinguished from this species by the distinct spathes which are densely covered in velvet like woolly hairs. The specific epithet is derived from the Greek for wool, and Latin spatha, which refers to the spathe.
In Brasil it is called Butia da serra , or Butia from the hills.
It also varies in its colour, which is usually green without the glaucous blue leaf colouration familar to Butia Odorata, although their exists a wild population at Lebon Regis in Santa Catarina at 850m altitude which is glaucous blue in colour. Oddly this population seems to have much shorter trunks.
Butia eriospatha is endangered throughout its habitat , due to pressure from the pulp industry which insists on planting Pinus and Eucalyptus plantations in place of ancient palm populations. The mature palm photographed on this site no longer exists ,the entire population was replaced with Pinus a year after taking the photo.
In my opinion this is the hardiest Butia. It is also the Butia with lowest heat requirement as the tablelands rarely see temperatures above 30C by day and in winter the climate is really quite cold by comparison to lower levels. This means it is also the fastest growing Butia for the UK.
Unfortunately ,it is not so easy as other Butia species , it is fussy about soil requirements, is prone to sulk, it doesnt like competing with grass , it needs very good drainage , and benefits from being planted in a raised bed. However given the right care, there are examples throughout mainland UK that have thrived over the last 10 years and have outperformed every other Butia palm planted.
In pots they are vulnerable to the pot freezing.
Whilst they are very hardy , it is prudent to protect them during the very coldest and most severe spells of weather , if a spell of weather is forecast with day and night temperatures below freezing, it is prudent to wrap up the leaves and insulate the main body of the plant against cold penetrating into the heart of the trunk.