Euterpe oleracea

Synonymy: Unknown Distribution: Brazil
Common names: Assai palm, acai palm Conservation status: Not threatened

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The açaí palm is very ornamental, with multiple branches which can reach up to 25 meters (80 feet) in height. The fruit is born in bunches of 3 to 8. The proliferation of the tree is extraordinary, especially considering its intensive extraction for the delicious heart-of-palm. It flowers throughout the year and the harvesting season is usually from July to December. The fruit is highly valued by the Amazonense for use in wine or as a juice, and it is an important and popular dietary complement. The heart of palm is also very much appreciated and extensively farmed and extracted. The juice is extracted from the small round fruit which is purple in color. The seeds are soaked in water to soften the thin outer shell. The seeds are then squeezed and strained to produce a dense purple liquid of incomparable flavor. This liquid is served ice cold with sugar and tapioca flour. Some people like it without sugar. It is a nourishing and refreshing treat that is also used to produce ice cream, liquor, mousses and sweets in general. It is native to Brazil and is cultivated in the States of Pará, Amazonas, Maranhão and Amapá, especially in the Amazon River estuary. It lives in seasonally flooded habitats and along water margins.

(Description modified from the Dutch site on Brazilian fruits,

Photo courtesy and copyright © 1998, Geoff Stein; taken at Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens, Thailand.

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