Oenocarpus bacaba

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Oenocarpus (oh-eh-no-KAR-puhs)
bacaba (bah-KAH-bah)
French Guiana. Photo by Pierre-Olivier ALBANO.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Oenocarpus (oh-eh-no-KAR-puhs)
bacaba (bah-KAH-bah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Turu Palm, Kumbu, koemboe, Lu, Comou, bacaba açu, bacaba-de-leque, ungurauy, camon, manoco, milpesos, punáma

Habitat and Distribution

Brazil North, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.
French Guiana. Photo by Pierre-Olivier ALBANO.


Turu is a thin solitary palm, stem to 30 cm in diameter and up to 18 m tall, with drooping leaflets. It has dark red to purple, globose fruits, indigenous to the Amazon rainforest, with a stem 8 - 12 inches in diameter and growing up to 50' tall. It has globose fruits, dark red to purple. The fruit is made into a drink, after cooking and removing of the skin, the fruit also yields a moisturizing and emollient oil. Editing by edric.


Full sun / partial shade and sandy soils, dry soil but water well. Plant in frost free areas. Fast growing. The tree grows in well-drained sandy soils of the Amazon basin. Form optimal germination, seeds should be planted at a depth of 2 cm in sand and vermiculite, and the temperature kept around 30°C. Seeds should be kept moist, rather than wet. Cold Hardiness Zone: 9b

Comments and Curiosities

The city of Bacabal in Maranhão was so called because of the large amount of existing Bacaba fruit there.

Uses: A beverage ("wine") is also made from the fruits of the chiquichique (Leopoldinia piassaba), the moriche or canangucha (Mauritia minor) the bacaba (Oenocarpus bacaba), and the bacabiña or milpesillo (Oenocarpus minor). Also the fruit juice is used to to make a "milk" or "chicha". The mesocarp is eaten after removing the skin, and being heated in water for a few minutes, this is called "Caguana". Oil is removed the seeds and buds. The seeds and the remains of the macerated pulp are fed to pigs and poultry. Leaves are used for house interiors while trunks provide tough wood suitable for construction. The seeds are used for making bracelets, and necklaces. The juice obtained by grinding the bud of the palm is used as an antidote (neutralizes the effects of scorpion venom and spider). The thick juice is applied on the bite, two or three times a day.

External Links


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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