Oenocarpus distichus

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Oenocarpus (oh-eh-no-KAR-puhs)
distichus (dihs-TIK-uhs)
14772422906 d5e3aa0764 b.jpg
Brazil. Photo by André Cardoso.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Oenocarpus (oh-eh-no-KAR-puhs)
Species:
distichus (dihs-TIK-uhs)
Synonyms
None set.
Native Continent
America
America.gif
Morphology
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Culture
Survivability index
Common names
Palmeira norte sul, bacaba-de-leque

Habitat and Distribution

Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, and Brazil West-Central.
Madre de Dios Region, Bolivia. Photo: The Field Museum.
Native to the southern margins of the Amazon basin, stretching from the Atlantic coast all the way through Brazil to northeastern Bolivia, and can be found in lowland rainforest as well as in somewhat drier areas on the margins on savanna.

Description

A striking, tall, solitary palm to 10 m tall on which the leaves are arranged in a single flat plane (i.e. distichous; hence the name). The leaves are plumose, and it has long, drooping, dark glossy green and somewhat drooping leaflets. Editing by edric.

Culture

Full sun, moist, but well drained position. Tropical/warm sub-tropics. Slow growing. Cold Hardiness Zone: 10b

Comments and Curiosities

Uses: In Brazil, the dark purple, oily fruits are used to prepare a drink called vinho-de-bacaba (bacaba wine). An edible oil can also be extracted from the fruit.

This arborescent palm is the one often spotted at slope tops in pastures, its crown of huge leaves arranged on a single plane. It survives there because it is relatively fire hardy and because people prize its fruit, which is processed into a delicious creamy slate-gray oil-rich drink that is possibly addictive and certainly preferred in this region to açaí (Euterpe oleracea). ‘Arborescent palm’ describes bacaba better than ‘medium tree’, as it rarely attains diameters larger than 20 cm. It grows very straight up to 25 m height, with individual leaves on juvenile poles up to six meters long, arranged, as noted, in a single plane, with leaflets growing from the central rachis on mixed planes similar to inajá (Attalea maripa). The stem, often somewhat greenish-gray, retains deeply etched leaf base scars at 20- to 25-cm intervals up its length to the base of the crown, creating a horizontal squaring pattern identifiable to some distance. Over time, the stem base thickens into a mound from accumulating adventitious roots. Flowering occurs during the mid dry season. Fruit ripen quickly, maturing – turning a dark glossy blue or black – shortly after the onset of the first consistent rains of the wet season. Fruit-set by individuals apparently occurs every second or third year. Bacaba grows mostly at high-ground positions in sandy clay soils, occasionally in gregarious clumps. It regenerates in small gaps and seems relatively shade tolerant, capable of developing enormous juvenile crowns beneath thin overhead canopies. (swietking.org)

A stunning tropical beauty that is immediately recognized by its leaves arranged in a flat, distichous crown that looks like a large, feathery fan. It forms a slender, solitary trunk to 10 m (33 ft.) or more tall. The spreading leaves hold numerous, dark glossy green and somewhat drooping leaflets that spread in all directions and give the leaf a distinctly plumose appearance. It is native to the southern margins of the Amazon basin, stretching from the Atlantic coast all the way through Brazil to northeastern Bolivia, and can be found in lowland rainforest as well as in somewhat drier areas on the margins on savanna. In cultivation it is best suited to the tropics, where it provides a prized landscaping tree. In Brazil, the dark purple, oily fruits are used to prepare a drink called vinho-de-bacaba (bacaba wine). An edible oil can also be extracted from the fruit. (RPS.com) Editing by edric.


External Links

References

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).


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

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