Euterpe oleracea

Family: Arecaceae    Palm Tree

Common Name: Aa Palm

Scientific Synonymy:
Euterpe brasiliana, Catis martiana, Euterpe badiocarpa, Euterpe beardii, Euterpe cuatrecasana

Common Synonymy:
Assai palm

Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a     View the UK and US zone maps

A clump-forming, medium sized, water-loving, fast growing, monoecious, forest emergent, yellowish coloured crownshaft palm. Common in cultivation, locally common in the wild. It has smooth, light-grey trunks, 24.5 m. (80 ft.) tall, 15.2 cm. (6 inch) diameter with spaced ring leaf scars, and large segmented, pinnate (feather) leaves, 3 m. (10 ft.) long, 0.9 m. (3 ft.) wide, dark green above and beneath.

From two disjunct areas of northern South America, one being western and northern Columbia and northern Ecuador, and the other stretching from Trinidad down through coastal areas to northeastern Brazil.

Euterpe oleracea naturally occurs near streams in valley bottoms, which are often at reasonable altitude. Therefore one would assume this palm would tolerate freezing conditions. However, valley bottoms are very sheltered and nearby water can artificially raise the air temperature. Freezing temperatures will kill this palm. But this palm tolerates a constantly cool or mild climate with little temperature difference between day & night, and Summer & Winter. Under extreme cold conditions we recommend you keep this palm as dry as possible, and well wrapped up.

Identification:
Stems clustered, to 20 m tall 10-20 cm in diameter. Leaves to 4 m long; crownshaft bluish green; petiole green, glabrous; pinnae to 100 on each side, regularly inserted, narrow, strongly pendulous, the central ones 60-110 cm long and 3-5 cm wide. Inflorescence erect, with axis 40-100 cm long; branches to 150, usually inserted on all sides of the rachis, to 70 cm long, 3-4 mm in diameter, densely covered with short, whitish brown hairs. Fruits black, globose, 1-2 cm in diameter. Endosperm ruminate. Seedling leaves deeply bifid.

General Information:
According to the University of Florida (January 2006), A Brazilian berry popular in health food contains antioxidants that destroyed cultured human cancer cells in a recent University of Florida study, one of the first to investigate the fruit’s purported benefits.

Distribution:

Native to, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela


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