Oleracea var. 'Para' Dwarf'

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Euterpe (yoo-TEHR-peh)
oleracea (oh-leh-rah-SEH-ah)
var. 'Pará Dwarf'
Acai3z.jpg
Photo: Don Kittleson.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Euterpe (yoo-TEHR-peh)
Species:
oleracea (oh-leh-rah-SEH-ah)
var. 'Pará Dwarf'
Synonyms
None set.
Native Continent
America
America.gif
Morphology
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Culture
Survivability index
Common names
Assai, Açai (ah-sigh-ee)

Habitat and Distribution

Brazil.
Photo: Don Kittleson.

Description

Euterpe oleracea `Para Dwarf` “Acai Super Berry Palm” Natural Habitat: The standard E. oleracea is naturally found throughout the Northern areas of South America. The Para Dwarf is a cultivated variety of E. oleracea, developed by South American farmers. Description: The oleracea is a naturally clumping palm, which can reach heights close to 100 foot tall, with long slender trunks. The Dwarf variety grows much shorter, only reaching heights around 20 feet tall. The palm will begin to seeds at a much shorter height (around 3 foot of trunk or 3 years after planting) then the natural oleracea, making the seeds much easier to harvest for farmers. The Dwarf variety also has a larger seed, producing up to 25% more pulp then the natural oleracea. The crown shaft is long and skinny, giving way to lengthy drooping leaves. Editing by edric.

A slender and elegant, clustering palm from northern South America, and its cultivar E. oleracea “Pará Dwarf”. Both varieties produce the berry, but the Pará Dwarf cultivar has particular benefits that make it the palm of choice for growing the fruit in its native Brazil — benefits which make it clear why this variety is nicknamed “Super Berry.” First, Pará Dwarf starts producing fruits with a trunk height of only 1m (3 ft.), which is equivalent to 3 years of age after planting, in a tropical climate. Second, this variety, as the “Dwarf” implies, stays relatively short for easier harvesting. Third, it is a highly productive plant. A recommended 400 plants per hectare (2.5 acres) yield about 10 metric tons (22000 lb) of fruit per year. Finally, the Pará Dwarf variety produces fruits of the highest quality, with up to 25% more pulp than the regular açaí.

Culture

The oleracea para dwarf enjoys a half sunny, half shady open area where is can remain moist throughout the day. As a seedling, it likes a shady moist area where it is protected from any strong elements. They are not cold hardy and should be kept in tropical climates. These seedlings can be grow indoors in greenhouses during the winter, if Northerners would like a chance to harvest their own Acai berries. However the humidity levels have to be quite high and normal indoor home environments will not surfice.

The Açaí Palm also produces a premium quality heart of palm. The Açaí Palm is well suited to most tropical and some warm temperate climates (USDA hardiness Zones 10b - 11). It likes plenty of rainfall and must be irrigated in drier areas.

Comments and Curiosities

Developed by the Brazilian agricultural department, Embrapa in Belem, Para in eastern Amazonia - for early harvesting of the Acaí "fruit." Said to begin fruiting in as early as three years.

In Brazil, a highly nutritious, thick, pulpy, deep purple juice called açaí, like the palm, is produced from the fruits of this species. It can be used in juice blends, smoothies or sodas, or consumed plain. Particularly noteworthy in the long list of beneficial contents in the juice are its high percentage of dietary fibers, which makes up a third of its weight, its antioxidant capacities and possible anti-cancer effects. The Açaí Palm also produces a premium quality heart of palm that is probably second to none. The benefits of this particular variety, highly prized in Brazil, are that it (1) starts fruiting with a trunk height of only 1m (3 ft.), which is equivalent to 3 years of age after planting, in a tropical climate, (2) stays short for easier harvesting, (3) is a highly productive plant: A recommended 400 plants per hectare (2.5 acres) yield about 10 metric tons (22000 lb) of fruit per year and (4) produces fruits of the highest quality, with up to 25% more pulp than the regular açaí.

Since its introduction to the world market in 2000, the açaí fruit has steadily gained attention for its remarkable antioxidant value, even higher, some studies show, than that of other antioxidant powerhouses such as blueberries, red grapes and pomegranates. These small, dark purple fruits are similar in appearance to blueberries and are often referred to as berries (although neither, botanically speaking, actually is). In Brazil, a highly nutritious, thick, pulpy, deep purple juice is produced from the fruits and commonly offered everywhere in the country. It is best consumed plain, fresh and unpasteurized but can also be used in juice blends, smoothies or sodas. Particularly noteworthy in the long list of beneficial contents in the juice is its high percentage of dietary fibers, which makes up a third of its weight. Because of the açaí fruit’s potentially elite antioxidant capacity, studies are being done to test the berry’s anti-cancer potential. In one of the first studies, undertaken at the University of Florida in 2006, researchers discovered that açaí berry extracts caused up to 86% of the tested leukemia cells to self-destruct. These findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Other scientific studies continue to be published on the fruit’s nutritional profile and possible health benefits.


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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