Euterpe precatoria

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Euterpe (yoo-TEHR-peh)
precatoria (preh-kah-tor-EE-ah)
Napo, Peru. Photo by Dr. Jean-Christophe Pintaud/Palmweb.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Euterpe (yoo-TEHR-peh)
precatoria (preh-kah-tor-EE-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Assai, Açai ('ah-sigh-ee'). Açaí, assaí, açaí-do-terra-firma, açaí-do-Amazonas, açaí-do-alto-Amazonas, açai-do-mato, açaí mirim, palmito mole, guassai, jissara (Brazil); huasai, chonta (Peru); palmo, manaco, guasay (Colombia); palma do rosario (Bolivia); rahoo, wahoo, wahoo, weenamori, waboyaka, manicole (Guyana); guassai (Venezuela); monki-monki pine, baboen pine, wapoeiema (Suriname); manac (Trinidad). The Forest Açaí.

Habitat and Distribution

Belize, Bolivia, Brazil North, Central American Pacific Is., Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana,
Yasuni National Park, Rio Tiputi, Orellana, Ecuador. Photo by Dr. William J. Baker, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew/Palmweb.
Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panamá, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad-Tobago, and Venezuela. Central America to Bolivia, up to 2000 m elevation. In Ecuador it occurs on both sides of the Andes, on terra firme, or east of the Andes also on poorly drained soil.


Canopy palm. Stems solitary, or rarely clustered and then few together, to 20 m tall, 15-30 cm in diameter. Leaves to 4 m long; crownshaft yellowish green; petiole green, glabrous; pinnae numerous, regularly inserted, narrow, strongly pendulous, the central ones 50-85 cm long and 2-3 cm wide. Inflorescence erect, with axis 40-100 cm long; branches to 200, usually confined to the lower (abaxial) side of the rachis, 30-80 cm long, 3-5 mm in diameter, densely covered with whitish hairs. Fruits black, globose, about 1.5 cm in diameter. Endosperm homogeneous. Seedling leaves pinnately divided, the first ones with 2 pinnae on each side, appearing palmate. (Borchsenius, F. 1998)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

Stems solitary or caespitose (growing in tufts or clumps), but then not forming large clumps, erect, 3-20 m tall. 4-23 cm in diam., gray, with a cone of roots visible at the base, bright red when young, these to 1 m long. Leaves 5-10 (-20) in the crown, spreading and somewhat arched; sheath 0.5-1.6 m long including a 1-3 cm long ligule, green, striped lighter green, or yellow, with scattered, appressed, fimbriate, black or reddish brown scales; petiole (0-) 12-57 cm long, adaxially densely covered with scales like those of sheath (but absent on young leaves), fewer scales abaxially; rachis 1.6-3.6 m long, with few to many raised, fimbriate, reddish brown scales adaxially especially near pinnae insertion; pinnae 43-91 per side, weakly to strongly pendulous to horizontal, with prominent midvein and 1-2 lateral veins on either side, the midvein with ramenta abaxially, usually punctate abaxially; basal pinna 46-70 x 0.2-1 cm; middle pinnae 60-88 x 1-3 cm; apical pinna 18-44 x 0.5-2 cm. Inflorescences ± horizontal at anthesis, becoming somewhat pendulous in fruit; peduncle 4-15 cm long, 2-4 cm in diam. at peduncular bract scar; prophyll 22-85 cm long, to 6 cm diam.; peduncular bract 23-80 cm long including a 2 cm long umbo, 8-10 cm diam., often with smaller bracts present distal to peduncular bract; rachis (8-)20-94 cm long; rachillae (24-) 200, 16-80 cm long at base, 18- 58 cm long at apex, 3-5 mm diam. at anthesis, 3-66 mm in diam. in fruit, arranged ± all round rachis or absent from adaxial, proximal part, densely covered with 0.1-0.5 mm long, stiff, stellate, brownish hairs; flowers in triads proximally, paired or solitary staminate flowers distally, occasionally an inflorescence all staminate; triad bracteole rounded or apiculate, to 2 mm long; first flower bracteole obscure, second and third flower bracteoles unequal, rounded, prominent, the largest 1-2 mm long; staminate flowers 3.5-5 mm long; sepals broadly ovate, blunt at the apex, 2- 3 mm long, keeled, scarcely pilose, ciliate; petals lanceolate, blunt at the apex, 3-5 mm long; stamens arranged on a short receptacle; filaments 1-2.5 mm long; anthers 2 mm long; pistillode 1.5-3 mm long, deeply trifid at the apex; pistillate flowers 2.5-4.5 mm long; sepals broadly ovate, 3 mm long, ± glabrous or with hairs on abaxial surface, ciliate; petals broadly ovate, 4 mm long. Fruits globose, 0.9-1.3 cm in diam., the stigmatic remains lateral; epicarp purple-black, minutely tuberculate; seeds globose; endosperm homogeneous; eophyll pinnate with very short rachis. (Gloria Galeano and A. Henderson)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

One of the most widespread species in the genus, Euterpe precatoria was divided by Henderson (1995) into two varieties. (Gloria Galeano and A. Henderson)/Palmweb.

Two varieties are recognised, both of which occur in Ecuador; Euterpe precatoria var. longivaginata=(Euterpe macrospadix), and Euterpe precatoria var. precatoria.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10b

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).

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.

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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