Attalea speciosa

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Attalea (at-tahl-EH-ah)
speciosa (speh-see-OH-sah)
6715094687 f318b2fbbb o1z.jpg
Brazil. Photo by André Cardoso
Scientific Classification
Genus: Attalea (at-tahl-EH-ah)
speciosa (speh-see-OH-sah)
Old name; Orbignya phalerata
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Babaçu palm, Babassu palm, Babaçu, Cusi, Auaçu, Guaguaçu, Bauaçu, Oauaçu.

Habitat and Distribution

Attalea speciosa is found in Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil Southeast,
Kampong Botanic Garden, in Coconut Grove (south of Miami), former estate of David Fairchild. Photo by Leu Gardens botanist Eric S.
Brazil West-Central, Guyana, and Suriname. You can find many babaçuais throughout the southern Amazon basin, where there is a transition between the vegetation of the rainforest to the cerrado vegetation. The clusters of this species tend to be homogeneous. It is believed that this species existed in Brazil before the arrival of settlers that served as food to the various Indian tribes, especially in the Northeast of Brazil.


An imposing palm with an erect trunk, up to 20 m tall and 30-40 cm wide, apically bearing a thick crown of pinnate, erect and spreading leaves, consisting of linear-lanceolate segments. Its flowers, unisexual on monoecious plants, are clustered in slightly branched, hanging inflorescences up to 1.5 m long. Fruits are somewhat like small coconuts about 6 cm long, ovate-oblong in shape, pointed, yielded in huge amounts (up to 800-1,000 fruits per inflorescence). Editing by edric.


Would be adaptable to subtropical areas, and is frost resistant. Seeds are big and easy of to germinate, but slow. Seedlings are slow to trunk.

Comments and Curiosities

A very tough palm and can multiply despite the destruction of its habitat, for it has a capacity to regenerate quickly. In the state of Maranhão the plant generates activity for over 300 thousand families.

Uses: Its seeds yield a kind of oil commercially known as babassu oil. In order to extract it, the seeds, picked from spontaneously grown palms, are ground and squeezed by means of hydraulic presses or otherwise treated by means of chemical solvents. This oil, whose content per seed ranges between 60% and 70%, looks transparent, it smells like walnuts and turns liquid at 20-30°C, otherwise it is somewhat creamy.

External Links


All information translated from the Portuguese, edric.

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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