Plain Gardening: Jelly Palms

Plain Gardening: Jelly Palms

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So, why would Bill Finch of Mobile Botanical Gardens ask to shoot a gardening show at a body shop on the Beltway next to an interstate highway?

Jelly palms.

These are beautiful ornamental palms that grow wonderfully well in our Gulf Coast Climate.  You’ll find them in surprising places.  The fronds feather nicely and the plentiful fruit is a lovely dark orange.  This is one of the jelly palm’s biggest secrets.

Those “in the know” realize that the fruit is a delicious blend of flavors resembling a mango/papaya/cherry with a nutty aftertaste.  Look for the softest, ripest fruit that hasn’t yet fallen from the tree.  There’s a large pit, so don’t bite down hard.  Different jelly palms will produce fruit with different characteristics:  some sweeter, some tangier, and some nuttier in flavor.  They’re great for making jelly (you’ll need a lot) or sauces or stuffing a turkey!

Jelly palm trees will put out lots of baby jelly palms, but if you want to plant one it’s best not to start from a seedling.  Plant the biggest one you can find or afford.  They grow slowly and may take years to produce fruit.

If it’s just the fruit you want, look around.  There are lots and lots of these palms throughout the northern Gulf Coast.  In most cases, no one eats the fruit, so you can just ask and harvest!

Learn more about jelly palms at mobilebotanicalgardens.org.

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