Attalea maripa

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American oil palm

Attalea (at-tahl-EH-ah)
maripa (mah-REEP-ah)
Brazil. Photo by Evandro Ferreira
Scientific Classification
Genus: Attalea (at-tahl-EH-ah)
maripa (mah-REEP-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Maripa, Naj, Cucurite palm, Kokerit-palm, anaja, cocorite, American oil palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Attalea maripa is found in Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil West-Central, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad-Tobago, and Venezuela.
Brazil. Photo by Evandro Ferreira
Widespread in lowland South America E of the Andes, in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. Distribution in Ecuador. In Ecuador it is common on well drained, non-inundated soils in the eastern lowlands. Adult plants are usually scarse, but juveniles may be quite abundant in the forest understorey.


Canopy palm. Trunk solitary, to 20 m tall and 35 cm in diam.; pinnae 230-260 on each side, arranged in groups of 2-6, pendulous in several planes and giving the leaf a weakly bushy appearance, the central ones 130-150 cm long and 6-8 cm wide, with prominent cross veins. Inflorescences curved to pendulous, 150-200 cm long; branches 700-800, to 25 cm long. Male flowers cream coloured, with inconspicuous perianth and 6 stiff, needle-like stamens, 6-8 mm long. Female flowers about 20 mm long. Fruit orange with a brown indument, about 5 cm long, with 1-3 seeds. (Borchsenius, F. 1998)/Palmweb.


Sunny well drained position. Frost sensitive.

Comments and Curiosities

Grown commercially for its oil, and is currently being investigated for its suitability for biodiesel production. This plant has a yellow edible fruit which is oblong ovoid and cream.

Uses: Food, thatch, fuel, Cosmetics, Utensils and Tools. Medicinal and Veterinary; respiratory system. Top quality blowgun darts are made from the petioles which are split and cut into short lengths, and the leaf rachis. Fruits are edible and, mixed in cold water and drunk, they are used to treat colds. Indigenous may use the spathe for carrying fruits and tapioca meal or even for heating water for cooking meal. The Kuripano Indians of the Guainía River believe that the curupira, the evil spirit of the forest, oftentimes with feet that point backwards.

The species was first described by French botanist Jean Baptiste Christophore Fusée Aublet in 1775 in his Histoire des plantes de la Guiane Francoise as Palma maripa. German botanist Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius transferred it to the genus Attalea in 1844. Hermann Wendland moved it to the genus Scheelea in 1878, while Carl Georg Oscar Drude moved it to Maximum ride. Otto Kuntze moved it to the genus Englerophoenix in 1891. Orator F. Cook placed it in its own genus in 1940, which he named Ethnora in recognition of Aublet's as a pioneer of the anti-slavery movement. Recent work has favoured maintaining all Attaleinae in a single genus, Attalea.

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).

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.

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