Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: American Oil Palm, Yagua Palm
Attalea butyracea

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Attalea (at-TAY-lee-uh) (Info)
Species: butyracea (byoo-ty-RAY-see-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Scheelea butryacea

2 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:
Unknown - Tell us

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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3 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive jungleboy_fl On May 23, 2006, jungleboy_fl from Naples, FL wrote:

Attaleas are commonly referred to as "American Oil Palm", because in Latin America, the oil contained in the seeds is extracted for multiple uses, in a similar manner to Elaeis guineensis. It is important to keep in mind that multiple species will often have similar or occasionally, the same common name.

My experience is with Attalea cohune. Ironically, in addition to being called Oil Palm, is also known as the Rain Tree. Supposedly, this is due to the pendulous nature of the leaflets, which cling to petioles that appear to emerge straight from the ground- at least until the trunk develops, which takes many years. Attalea palms are such eye catching specimens- if you have the right climate, and a lot of patience, you will be pleased with the results.

This palm requires a very hot and humid climate in order to thrive. It is drought tolerant, but obviously you should provide regular irrigation to speed up it's growth. I've found it to be somewhat tolerant of temperatures in the 40's F for brief periods, but definitely it prefers hot days and humid damp conditions. There are some wonderful specimens at Miami's Fairchild Tropical Garden in Coral Gables.

Positive Kylecawaza On Oct 8, 2004, Kylecawaza from Corte Madera, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

The American Oil Palm is Elaeis Oleifera. So the common name of this palm is an error.

Positive palmbob On May 28, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Huge palms from the central to south American tropics- leaves up to 30' long and gently arching and twisting- wonderful specimen palms. Even though they survive in California, tolerating frost at a young age, they are very slow here and not that great in hot, dry winds. These palms (ATtaleas in general) do great in Florida though where it's much hotter most of the year. There are NO trunking palms in So Cal, yet, and it is suspected that once the bud, where the new leaf comes from, finally reaches the surface, frost will kill this palm... that may be 20 or so years into the palm's life, though. These palms grow to over 90' tall in their native environment and stand out way above the surrounding jungles and forests in many locations- impressive sights!


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Thousand Oaks, California
Key West, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Naples, Florida

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