| Oenocarpus |
Photo by Dr. R. Vasquez-Biovertsity International.
Habitat and DistributionMoist forest areas below 1000 m elevation. Occasionally the palm is
Palm solitary, diameter breast high 30 cm, 20 m tall with mass of prop roots at base. In open palm forest, common, terra firme. Leaves pinnate, about 88-90 pinnae per side, sheath 1/2 m long x 60 cm wide, olive green; petiole 70 cm long; with stiff upright fibers at base; rachis 9 m long. Basal pinnae 1.62 m long x 4 cm wide; middle pinnae 1.7 m x 14 cm; apical pinnae 90 cn x 2.5 cm. Prophll 70 cm long x 13 cm wide; bract almost ready to open, 1.6 m long. Primary axis of inflorescence 23 cm to first bract scar, apical rachillae 80-90 cm long; middle rachillae 80-85 cm long; basal rachillae about 80 cm long. Very heavily fruited, 25-36-36-38-39-42 fruits per rachillae. Flowers collected from another tree, as the two panicles on this tree are unripe. (M.J. Balick, D.C. Daly, J.S. Solomon 1982)
Canopy palm. Stem solitary, to 20 m tall and 20-40 cm in diameter, smooth. Leaves erect, forming a funnel shaped crown, to 10 m long; sheath open to base, with abundant black, stout fibres at the margins, intermixed with brown, wooly fibres; pinnae 100 or more on each side, one-ribbed, 1-1.5 m long, more or less pendulous. Inflorescence once branched, with numerous pendulous branches, to 1.2 m long, borne on a very short axis. Fruits elongate, purple when ripe, pointed at apex, 2.5-4 cm long. (Borchsenius, 1998/Palmweb.) Editing by edric.
"Only in age the columnar stems smooth when 20 meters high or higher, 2 dm. in diameter, in youth more or less marked by or enclosed in the spiniform remnants of the leaf-sheaths; leaves 8-10, crowded, erect-spreading, 10 meters long or longer, the equally distant segments linear-lanceolate, mostly about 2 meters long, 1 dm. wide; spadices few, 1-2 meters long, the many branches fastigiate, strict, incrassate above; lower spathe half as long as upper, extended into a fuscous tomentose mucro; male petals ovate-oblong, subacute; fruit violet-purplish, cylindric-ellipsoid (stigmas nearly on the rounded apex), 3-3.5 cm. long, 2-2.25 cm. in diameter, the oblong seed acute at both ends" (MacBride, 1960; 13 (1/2):379-380).
Its stem is solitary, erect, 10–25 m (33–82 ft) in height and 2–3 dm (8–12 in) diameter, smooth, and ring-shaped. It has 10–16 leaf terminals, petiole 10–50 cm, rachis 3–7 m long; with leaflets up till 2 m long and 15 cm breadth, approximately 100 to each side, placed in the same plane. The new leaves are maroon in colour. The blossom is 1–2 m long, with about 300 rachilas up to 1.3 m in length. The flowers are yellow with sepals 2 mm and petals 7 mm long. Patauá is a palm tree that grows both on dry land and in most humid forests. This species can reach 25 meters in height, has only one stem and the infructescence is arranged in the form of a horse’s tail. The patauá palm starts producing fruits in its eighth year and produces up to 3 infructescences per year. The fruits take between 10 to 14 months to develop, which is why plants can be found with flowers and fruits at the same time. (amazonoil.com.br)
A fast grower, given plenty of sun, water, and warmth. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10b
Comments and Curiosities
There are two subspecies; 1. Oenocarpus bataua var. bataua, Bolivia, Brazil North, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panamá, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. 2. Oenocarpus bataua var. oligocarpus, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad-Tobago, and Venezuela.
Uses: In the open markets of Belém, the importance of "wine of patauá" is much greater than that of patauá oil. The "wine of patauá" has the appearance of chocolate milk and is prepared in the same way as the "wine of açaí." The dry mesocarp of patauá contains about 7.4% protein and posses an excellent amino acid composition. Because of this, the protein of patauá is one of the most valuable found among plants and can be compared with the meat or milk from cattle. Traditionally, Amazonian communities utilize the patauá oil to fry food, and as a tonic to treat hair loss. The traditional method used to extract oil from patauá involves the following procedure: soaking the fruits in water which helps to separate the pulp from the seeds, shredding the fruit and then placing the pulp in a container of water that is boiled until the oil appears. When extracting oil with a mechanical press the pulp is preheated to gain a higher yield. The patauá fruit is comprised of nearly 39% pulp (exocarp and mesocarp) and 61% seeds. The pulp contains 18% oil. Each palm produces an average of 2 bunches (infructescences) of fruits per year, which is equivalent to 32 kg of fruit that can yield up to 2.4 liters of oil when using a mechanical press. The oil extracted from the mesocarp of the patauá palm appears as a greenish yellow and transparent liquid, with little odor and taste, and has the physical appearance and composition of fatty acids that are similar to olive oil (Olea europaea). Its high content of unsaturated fatty acids is remarkable. Due to its high content of oleic acid, patauá oil has moisturizing properties, and can be used to care for skin and hair or in formulas to treat dandruff or to revitalize hair, and can also be used in soaps and moisturizers.(amazonoil.com.br)
The tree is used for oil, fibre, fruit, Fruit is usually consumed as "milk" From the fruits of a drink is prepared "Majo" called "nice milk" or "chicha" of milpesos, which is considered a good food and is available in the local market. Fresh milk taken every day, and is used to combat diabetes. With the fruits of Euterpe species (naidí) and Oenocarpus ("Milpesos") both, they prepare nutritious and delicious drinks. The "Milpesos" deserves special attention, the black berries of this palm, which bears fruit once a year, produce an oily drink, studies have found it is the 2nd most valuable non-timber forest product in the region. Oil is valuable locally and for export (cooking, cosmetics), but the market has not been explored extensively. Oenocarpus batua reproduces approximately every two years; time from pollination to mature fruits = 10~14 months. Flower duration ~ 4 weeks. The author found that fruits peak in late dry - early wet season, but are available in some quantity throughout the year.
Production: Measured 700 kg / ha of fruit every two years (~51.8 kg oil / two years). Traditional methods to predict fruit abundance (dbh, height, leaf counts) were unreliable. The Palm heart is also consumed.
The leaves and stems are used in construction, the leaves are used for the roofs of traditional houses, they are one of the most used and appreciated primarily by its length and duration. Used in Basketry. Seeds fashioned into dolls. Parts of the leaves are used to make fish-traps.
The thin, oily mesocarp has chocolate-like taste, and is very popular. It is usually soaked before eating to soften the pulp. "Ungurahui" is used in beverages (such as “chapo”), popsicles, and ice creams. The wood of the stem is split and used for floors, and for other construction needs. The hard endosperm is crushed and eaten to cure snake bites. This palm species is common in upland environments, and can be quite dense in areas of the Reserva Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo.
Agroforestry: The tall single-stemmed palm is slow growing, and difficult to cultivate. People who want a similar tasting palm fruit usually cultivate the faster growing “sinamillo” palm (Oenocarpus balickii), instead of "Ungurahui". (Rainforest Conservation Fund)
Conservation: Over-exploitation is not a problem (most likely because O. batua has traditionally been planted in forest areas by indigenous peoples). As it grows well in full sun. (amazonoil.com.br)
A huge shuttlecock-like palm with steeply ascending, very orderly and neatly arranged pinnate leaves. If it came from Madagascar, collectors would be falling over each other to get it in their collections. It produces plum-size purple-black fruits with edible oily flesh on infructescences that look somewhat like gigantic horse's tails, a key identification characteristic in the field. A truly stunning, easy to germinate and very fast growing palm, ideal for the larger tropical or sub-tropical garden or park. (RPS.com)
"O. bacabas and O. batauas were quite easy to distinguish, whereas I sometimes confused bacabas with Attalea maripas. Bacabas have erect leaves with pendulous leaflets that have a somewhat disorderly appearance (like some Attaleas). Batauas have more horizontal leaves with stiff, regularly arranged leaflets. The leaves arch and twist like an Archontophoenix." (Michael Merritt)
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
- ACADÉMIEDEMONTPELLIER AGRO M ÉCOLENATIONALE SUPÉRIEURE AGRONOMIQUE DE MONTPELLIER Par Dr. ROMMEL MONTUFAR GALARRAGA Em português.
Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.
Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.
Special thanks to Palmweb.org, 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).
Borchsenius, F. 1998. Manual to the palms of Ecuador. AAU Reports 37. Department of Systematic Botany, University of Aarhus, Denmark in collaboration with Pontificia Universidad Catalica del Ecuador.
Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.