Euterpe oleracea

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Euterpe (yoo-TEHR-peh)
oleracea (oh-leh-rah-SEH-ah)
Guy2 img 5630.jpg
French Guiana.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Euterpe (yoo-TEHR-peh)
oleracea (oh-leh-rah-SEH-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Height: 30m/60ft+
Sun exposure: Full sun
Survivability index
Common names
(Assai, Açai ('ah-sigh-ee'). Brazil: acaí, acaí branco, acaizeiro, assaizeiro (in Brazil, the tree is acaizeiro, and the fruit is acaí), ka-be-re (Apinajé), ju?ara, jussara; Colombia: chapil , maquenque, murrapo, naidí, palmicha; Ecuador: bambil, palmiche; French Guiana: pinot; Suriname: baboenpina, kiskis pina, manaka, pina, prasara, wapoe, wapu, wasei; Trinidad: manac.

Habitat and distribution

Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname,
Photo by Vivero de Palmas.
Trinidad-Tobago, and Venezuela. Coastal regions in Brazil, Guyanas, Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador, in tidal fresh water swamps and in regularly inundated areas along rivers and streams. In Ecuador it is abundant in the river delta region. Panama (San Blas), Pacific coast of northern Ecuador (Esmeraldas, Pichincha) and Colombia (Cauca, Chocó, Córdoba, Nariño, Valle; and some areas of the Río Sinú and middle Magdalena valley in Antioquia, Córdoba, and Santander), Trinidad , Venezuela (Bolívar, Delta Amacuro, Sucre), the Guianas, and Brazil (Amapá, Maranho, Paná, Tocantins). It grows in large stands of high density in low-lying, tidal areas near the sea and in wet places near rivers, seldom occurring inland and then in wet places near streams or rivers. In the eastern Amazon basin it replaces Euterpe precatoria in these habitats. However, in the Pacific coastal region of Colombia and Ecuador, the two species are sympatric. Nevertheless, E. oleracea grows in inundated places, whereas E. precatoria grows on noninundated soils. Euterpe oleracea can be an aggressive colonizer of disturbed, swampy areas. Despite this, the habitat of the species is threatened by rice cultivation and shrimp farming in coastal Colombia, in swamps in French Guiana; Urdaneta, and in Venezuela. (Gloria Galeano and A. Henderson)/Palmweb.


Canopy palm. Stems clustering, to 20 m tall 10-20 cm in diameter. Leaves to 4 m long, 8 to 10 in the crown; crownshaft bluish green; petiole green, glabrous; pinnae to 100 on each side, regularly inserted, narrow, strongly pendulous, the central ones 60-110 cm long and 3-5 cm wide. Inflorescence erect, with axis 40-100 cm long; branches to 150, usually inserted on all sides of the rachis, to 70 cm long, 3-4 mm in diameter, densely covered with short, whitish brown hairs. Fruits black, globose, 1-2 cm in diameter. Endosperm ruminate. Seedling leaves deeply bifid. Stems caespitose (growing in tufts or clumps) with up to 25 stems per clump, or occasionally appearing solitary and then with shoots at the base, erect or leaning, 3-20 m tall, 7-18 cm diam., usually gray with lichens, with a cone of red roots at base, these to 1 cm in diam., and with pneumatophores. Leaves 8-14, arching; sheath 0.6-1.5 m long including a short ligule, dark brown, purple, green, dull red-green or yellow-green, with few, flat, scaltered, brownish scales especially on ligule; petiole 17-50 cm long, with few, flattened or raised scales or occasionally whitish, scurfy scales adaxially and on upper part of abaxial surface, mostly glabrous abaxially; rachis 1.5-3.7 m long, with similar scales like those of petiole; pinnae 40-80 per side, pendulous or less often horizontal (especially on younger plants), opposite to subopposite, long acuminate, with punctations abaxially, with prominent midvein and 2-3 lateral veins either side, the midvein with few ramenta abaxially; basal pinna 40-74 x 0.5- 1.5 cm; middle pinnae 0,6-1.1 m x 2-4.5 cm; apical pinna 24-50 x 0.6-1.8 cm. Inflorescences infrafoliar at anthesis, almost horizontal; peduncle 5-15 cm long, 2.7-4 cm in diam.; prophyll 43-66 cm long, 11-14 cm in diam.; peduncular bract 66-95 cm long, without an umbo; rachis 35-68 cm long, densely covered with whitish brown, branched hairs; rachillae (58-)80-162, 21-75 cm long, 3-4 mm in diam. at anthesis, thickening in fruit, absent from adaxial, proximal part of rachis, densely covered with very short, appressed, whitish brown hairs; flowers in triads proximally, paired or solitary staminate distally; triad bracteole rounded; first flower bracteole apiculate, second and third flower bracteoles unequal, rounded, the largest 1-1.5 mm long; staminate flowers 4-5 mm long; sepals triangular to ovate, 2-3.5 mm long, unequal, ciliate; petals ovate, 3-4 mm long, purple to purplered; stamens arranged on a short receptacle; filaments 1.5-4 mm long; anthers 2-2.5 mm long; pistillode 2-3 mm long, deeply trifid at apex; pistillate flowers 3 mm long; sepals broadly tririangular, 2 mm long, ciliate; petals broadly triangular, 2-3 mm 1ong. Fruits globose or depressed globose, 1-2 cm in diam., the stigmatic remains lateral; epicarp purple-black, black, or green, minutely tuberculate; seeds globose; endosperm deeply ruminate; eophyll bifid. (Gloria Galeano and A. Henderson)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


It requires a hot, moist climate with part shade. It will take full sun as it matures and frost should be avoided.

Comments and Curiosities

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).

Gloria Galeano & A. Henderson. Flora Neotropica. New York Botanical Garden.

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

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