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Bactris gasipaes is a species of palm native to the tropical forests of South and Central America.

There are numerous common names for this plant in several languages and many countries. For example, in English: peach-palm or pewa (Trinidad and Tobago), peyibay(e), and pejivalle; in Spanish: pejibaye (Costa Rica, Nicaragua), chontaduro or chantaduro, (Colombia, Ecuador), pijuayo (Peru), pijiguao (Venezuela), tembé (Bolivia), pixbae (pronounced pibá) (Panama), and in Portuguese: pupunheira, and pupunha (Brazil).

There are several botanical synonyms, including Bactris ciliata (Ruiz & Pav.) Mart., B. insignis (Mart.) Baill., B. speciosa (Mart.) H. Karst., B. utilis (Oerst.) Benth. & Hook.f. ex Hemsl., Guilelma chontaduro Triana, G. ciliata (Ruiz & Pav.) H. Wendl., G. gasipaes (Kunth) L. H. Bailey, G. insignis Mart., G. speciosa Mart., G. utilis Oerst., and Martinezia ciliata Ruiz & Pav.

Description

Bactris gasipaes grows erect, with a single slender stem or, more often, several stems to 8 in (20 cm) thick, in a cluster; generally armed with stiff, black spines in circular rows from the base to the summit. There are occasional specimens with only a few spines. It can typically grow to 20 metres (66 ft) or taller . The leaves are pinnate, 3 metres (9.8 ft) long on a 1 metre (3.3 ft) long petiole. The fruit is a drupe with edible pulp surrounding the single seed, 4–6 cm long and 3–5 cm broad. The rind (epicarp) of the fruit can be red, yellow, or orange when the fruit is ripe, depending on the variety of the palm.[1]

 

 

 

Uses

Many species of birds feed on this wild palm, notably macaws, parrots and parakeets, all members of the family Psittacidae.

Food

Bactris gasipaes is well known by local people where it grows and has been used for centuries as food. The fruit is frequently stewed in salted water. However, it may be eaten raw after being peeled and flavored with salt and sometimes honey. It can also be used to make compotes and jellies or to make flour and edible oil.

This plant may also be harvested for heart of palm, and has commercial advantages in being fast growing; the first harvest can be from 18 to 24 months after planting. In Brazil, it is a viable solution for the heart of palm cultivation industry because its agricultural characteristics are adequate for it to be beneficial to substitute it for other native palms such as species of Euterpe including Euterpe oleracea (known as açaí) and Euterpe edulis (known as juçara), that have been extensively exploited and are protected as endangered species. The Brazilian domestic market for heart of palm is about five times bigger than the external one; however, there is an increasing demand for this product internationally as it is increasingly used in international cookery. In addition, the cultivation of Bactris gasipaes is also economically important for Costa Rica.

 

 

 

Composition

The composition of 100 grams of pulp: 164 calories, 2.5 g of protein, 28 mg of calcium, 31 mg of phosphorus, 3.3 mg of iron, 1,500 mmg of vitamin A, 0.06 mg of vitamin B1 and 34 mg of vitamin C.

Pests and diseases

Bactris gasipaes is susceptible to certain pests and pathogens, of which the most commercially significant are:

Pests
  • Atta leafcutter ants
  • Rhynchophorus palmarum (a weevil)
  • Strategus aloeus (Ox Beetle)
  • Tetranychus mexicanus (a spider mite)
Diseases
  • Colletotrichum gloeosporioides anthracnose
  • Helminthosporium leaf spot disease
  • Phytophthora root rot[verification needed]
  • Mycosphaerella leaf spot disease
  • Monilia brown rot

 

 

Written on February 19th, 2012 , Botany, Forestry Tags:

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