| Acrocomia (ak-roh-koh-MEE-ah) |
Brazil. Photo by Cailan Ramos
Habitat and DistributionLeeward Is., Puerto Rico. Habitat: Fields and woodlands in the coastal
Acrocomia media is a pinnately leaved palm with a solitary, stout stem. It usually reaches a height of 8 to 10 metres (26 to 33 ft), sometimes growing up to 15 metres (49 ft) tall, with a stem diameter of 20 to 30 centimetres (7.9 to 11.8 in). (Proctor, G.R. (2005). "Arecaceae (Palmae)". In Acevedo-Rodríguez, Pedro; Strong, Mark T (eds.). Monocots and Gymnosperms of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.)
Acrocomia media is a very spiny, evergreen palm; it can grow up to 12 metres tall. The unbranched, straight stem is 20 - 30cm in diameter, topped by a crown of long leaves, each up to 4 metres long. The tree is harvested from the wild for local use as a source of food and materials. (Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, by Little E.L.; Wadsworth F.H. )
This palm can flower and produce fruit nearly all year round. Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b
Comments and Curiosities
American botanist George Proctor considered A. media to be a valid species on the basis of its shorter, more slender trunk, but other authors considered it a synonym of A. aculeata.
Uses: Seed edible - raw or cooked. The flavour resembles coconuts. Rich in oil. An edible oil is obtained from the seed.
This species is closely related to Acrosmia aculeata, and is seen as no more than a synonym for that species by some authorities. It is extremely likely, therefore, that this plant has the same uses as Acrosmia aculeata.
These uses are detailed below:-
A starch can be obtained from the pith of the trunk and from the roots. The pith of the trunk can be fermented to produce an alcoholic drink.
Fruit - cooked. Rich in oil, it can be quite bitter. The yellowish pulp is fibrous, mucilaginous and slightly sweet. The sweet, pulpy portion of the fruit is eaten raw. Eaten in times of scarcity.
Young leaves - cooked and eaten as a vegetable. The apical bud, known as a 'palm heart' is eaten. If the apical bud is removed, then the tree is condemned to a slow death since it is unable to produce side branches.
Medicinal Uses: This species is closely related to Acrosmia aculeata, and is seen as no more than a synonym for that species by some authorities. It is extremely likely, therefore, that this plant has the same uses as Acrosmia aculeata. These uses are detailed below:-
The roots are used medicinally.
Other Uses: Most of the stem is soft and pithy, but the outside portion is very hard and durable, with attractive black markings. It has been used for flooring, and can also be cut into walking sticks.
A useful twine can be obtained from the leaves by tearing strips of the desired width from the leaflets.
A good quality fibre is obtained from the leaves. Very strong, it is used to make ropes and cordage.
A high quality oil can be obtained from the seed kernel. It can be used for making soap.
Another oil can be obtained from the pulp of the fruit. It is used for making soap.
The very hard endocarp that encloses the seed can be cut into rings or carved and pierced for use as rosary beads. It is also used for making jewelry and buttons.
- Glossary of Palm Terms
- MODERN BOTANICAL LATIN
- "Just To Be Clear"
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.