Once it germinates that's most of the battle won.
It grows remarkably fast and is easy to look after - not prone to
any pests - the seedling fronds are tough and leathery. Since germinating
each of my P. torralyii seedlings has produced three, lanceolate
leaflets. One robust seedling measured 2 ft long but only 2 ins
wide after only 12 months growth. Growth stopped indoors in late
October with decreasing light levels but they start showing signs
of growing again by early February. Its origins in a cool climate
is evident by its willingness to grow during the nights and in the
cold spring when temperatures are low. It is a pleasant change to
see a palm growing fast when others like Sabal or Syagrus only really
start growing when it is very hot.
Growth occurs rapidly after about three years, especially
if planted out and freed from the restrictions of pot culture. Cocoides
flowers and fruits after only twelve years in such diverse countries
as New Zealand and Italy, underlying its adaptability to Mediterranean
type climates. I've seen both cocoides and torallyi growing indoors
as young plants in the temperate house at Kew Gardens. They looked
identical although labelled differently. In general terms it is
possible to identify which species your seeds are by examining the
ridges on them. Both sunkha and cocoides have less obvious ridges
on the endocarp. Torallyi var. torallyi seeds have three prominent
ridges while var. microcarpa has three inconspicuous ridges.
A small Parajubaea is also planted outdoors at Kew
in the Duke's garden although it is very difficult to see in summer,
as there is a big, leafy tree in the way. It is easier to see in
winter as the tree is deciduous. It survived last winter's mild
temperatures without damage, helped by an extremely protected position
between two brick walls.
Parajubaea may never be available commercially in
Europe. The lack of seed, coupled with its erratic and lengthy germination,
and its dislike for pot culture, makes it an unsuitable choice for
nurseries demanding fast moving product lines. Purchasing seeds
will probably remain the best way to gain access to such a tropical
looking palm. It is another of those new, experimental palms from
high altitude mountain ranges of the world like Caryota 'himalaya'
and Ceroxylon - not yet assessed in colder climates but all requiring
similar growing conditions, that can endure moderate frost, can
thrive in cool summers and are highly ornamental.