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Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum), also spelled cupuassu, cupuazú, and copoasu, is a tropical rainforest tree related to cacao. Common throughout the Amazon basin, it is widely cultivated in the jungles of Colombia, Bolivia and Peru and in the north of Brazil, with the largest production in Pará, followed by Amazonas, Rondônia and Acre.

Cupuaçu trees usually range from 5 to 15 meters (16 to 50 feet) in height, though some can reach 20 meters (65 feet). They have brown bark. Their leaves are 25–35 cm (10–14 in) long and 6–10 cm (2–4 in) across, with 9 or 10 pairs of veins. As they mature, their leaves change from pink-tinted to green, and eventually they begin bearing fruit. Cupuaçu fruits are oblong, brown, and fuzzy, 20 cm (8 in) long, 1–2 kg (2–4 lb) in weight, and covered with a thick (4–7 mm), hard exocarp.

The white pulp of the cupuaçu is uniquely fragrant (described as a mix of chocolate and pineapple), and it contains theacrine (1,3,7,9-tetramethyluric acid) instead of the xanthines (caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline) found in cacao.[1] It is frequently used in desserts, juices and sweets. The juice tastes primarily like a pear, with a hint of banana.

The wood is also commonly used for timber. The pulp is also used in cosmetics products such as body lotions, as it is highly hydrating, similarly to cocoa butter.

Cupuaçu supports a phylogenetically intriguing butterfly herbivore the lagarta verde, Macrosoma tipulata (Hedylidae), which can be a serious defoliator.[2]

Phytochemicals

Cupuaçu is touted as a possible superfruit flavor[3] deriving from its phytochemicals, such as polyphenolic tannins, theograndins I and II, and flavonoids, including catechins, quercetin, kaempferol and isoscutellarein.[4] Commercial production of cupuaçu includes food supplements, pills, drinks, smoothies and sweets.

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Written on June 20th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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