Acrocomia intumescens

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Acrocomia (ak-roh-koh-MEE-ah)
Gileno Machado, Recife - Brazil. edric.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Acrocomia (ak-roh-koh-MEE-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Here are a few pictures taken in Sirinhaém, state of Pernambuco,
In Habitat, Brazil.
NE Brazil, of Acrocomia intumescens in habitat.

These palms, now recognized again by Harri Lorenzi and Larry Noblick in their new book Flora Brasileira as separate species from Acrocomia aculeata (as originally described by Martius in the 19th century) is actually very distinctive from its cousins. The smooth trunk when mature, the belly in the stem at varied heights and the tasty edible big fruits are quite unique. It is also very different from A. crispa (formerly Gastrococos, from Cuba), which are very spiny palms and have small fruits and quite different seedlings. The habitat location of A. intumescens (Macaíba) is actually very small in Northeastern Brazil, usually found at a short distance from the coast.this species is still common around these parts, despite the pressure for sugarcane plantation and clearings of habitats. The locals usually spare them from destruction because the fruits are highly appreciated for dessert. Now they're increasing the plantings for urban landscape design and avenue line ups. A few years ago they'd prefer to plant only Royals, coconuts and Sabal. Those individuals bordering the local roads in sugarcane plantations were probably dispersed by humans in the past, after chewing up the fruit. I'll try to photograph some areas where they occur in aboundance soon. I guess these palms actually prefer soils with predominance of clay and organic matter. They're drought tolerating palms and may even take some cold with no problem. I saw a few cultivated ones doing great in Minas Gerais state at the Inhotim Botanic garden, where the weather is much cooler than up here. Alberto took a few seedlings to his frosty tableland in the south last year...I wonder if they're still doing fine there... They've been researching a lot with some palm species in Brazil lately, interested in biodiesel production for the future. I've read that they've found out that a hybrid in Attalea genus (A. X teixeirana) has proved to achieve a maximum oil production/hectare so far, and also it starts fruiting at early stages. Some countries are already planting millions of palms for this purpose, mostly Elaeis guineensis I think, but these extensive plantings can also impact negativelly the local habitats and interfere with the ecologic balance, I think. The ammount of biodiesel expected from these crops will not of course be sufficient to replace all fossil fuels we burn everyday but it will certainly help a lot to reduce emissions in the future. There are actually several big towns with polution problems that are slowly converting and adopting biodiesel for use in urban transportation now, like São Paulo. I believe the legislation is also previewing an increase of biodiesel percentage in the general fuel for the next years too. The goal is 5% for 2013 and 20% for 2020. Who knows if the Acrocomia will play an important role too, someday... Gileno Machado, Recife - Brazil.


Although often treated as a synonym of Acrocomia aculeata, this plant is so different that it might better be treated as the separate species it was originally described as, in 1891, by Martius. Native to forests in northeasternmost Brazil, especially around the town of Recife, it is a moderately large palm with a smooth, distinctly swollen trunk to about 8 m (26 ft.) tall which holds a rounded crown of large, plumose leaves. It actually resembles the Cuban Gastrococos crispa (now Acrocomia crispa) more than A. aculeata from elsewhere in Brazil and will grow under the same conditions as either of them. Editing by edric.


Comments and Curiosities

This is a tillering palm, it exhibits saxophone style root growth (it has a heel), keep top third of heel above soil elevation!.

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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