Acai Palm Tree

Scientific Name & Other names

Acai palm belongs to the Arecaceae family. Its scientific name is Eutrepe oleracea and other common names are cabbage palm, pina palm, acai plama, assai palm.

Description

This palm tree grows in the damp shade regions of the rainforest and reaches a height up to 50 to 100 feet. A full-grown tree has about 6 to 10 stems that combine in a single root system. The nutritious berries resemble an elegant feather like a crown of green color. The size of Acai palm berries are half inches in size, round in shape and contains a single seed in the center. When the berries are in the raw state, they are green in color but when they start to ripen, they turned into purple color. Each adult tree contributes about five to nine bunches of fruit every year and the weight of each cluster is approximately 6 kilograms.

History

This tree grows in abundance in the southern and central part of America. It is the native tree of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.  Acai is the staple food for many poor people living the lower parts of the Amazon region. Its price is low in comparison to other fruit juices giving it the name of a poor man’s juice. This fruit is so much popular that there is the establishment in single villages known as Acailandia in most of the Amazon basin towns. It organizes for setting up the Acai juice and selling them in small plastic bags.

Vegetative Cultivation and Propagation

Partially shaded areas required for sunlight. When the tree matures enough, it can resist temperatures up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Water requirement is moderate and in the wild, it grows in floodplains and swamps regions. Acai best grows in moist acidic but well-drained soil.

  1. For propagation, we need to collect fresh acai palm seeds during the last part of the year. If the seeds are still retaining fruit pulp, soak them for some days and remove the loose pulp against the mesh of a kitchen strainer.
  2. Fill the moist mixture of half peat and perlite in a 1-gallon pot and then plant the seeds in the wet mix at a depth equal to half their diameter. Enclose the pot with a large and clear plastic bag.
  3. Place the pot on the seed starting heat mat at a temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The germination of the acai seeds takes place in one to two months.
  4. When they started sprouting, remove the pot from the plastic bag. Now put the pot on a partially shaded window sill during the daytime.
  5. The soil should be damp for seedlings to sprout, transplant the seeds into 4 inches diameter tree pots when the seeds have attained 2 inches of height.
  6. Until they reach the height of 20 inches, keep them in pots for six months.
  7. Find an outdoor location where the soil is fertile, acidic, moist and well drained. Dig holes up to 15 cm in diameter and place the acai plants about 15 feet apart.
  8. Ensure that there is no waterlogging in that area but the soil remains damp. If there are any pests, spray the field with a light horticultural oil solution.

Harvesting and Storage

Pina palm is harvested by removing the top of the palm crown. As the palms are multistemmed, the harvest is done without destroying the full plant and collected from single stemmed species. The process of harvesting and processing are completed within one to two days so that the fruits do not get spoiled and maintain its nutritional potency. The harvesting process is done by hand only to protect the forest ecosystem. From July until December, harvesting is massively done.

Landscaping and wildlife

This slow-growing fruit is food to various birds and animals for its seed dispersal all over the forest.

Parts of the plant Used

  • Berries: Oil extracts, medicinal uses, and fruit juices
  • Hearts of the palm: As a vegetable

Medicinal Uses and Health Benefits

  1. Oil extracts from the fruit are used for the treatment of diarrhea and the seeds of this plant are crushed and roasted for curing fever.
  2. Acai roots help for treatment of liver problems, diabetes, pain in the muscles and therapy for hair loss.
  3. Berries of the Acai tree possess antiviral and anticancer properties.
  4. Help in eliminating tumors and multiplication of cancer cells.
  5. Berries of cabbage palm help in stimulating the immune system and restore vitality and energy in our body.
  6. Act as a shield against cardiovascular diseases and have a positive impact on the heart. They are useful for combating high blood pressure, improve the flow of blood circulation and reduce palpitation in the heart.
  7. Berry of this plant is the best supplement for controlling the weight of the body and slows down the aging process.

Possible Side Effects & Precautions

  1. Avoid processed berry supplements as it would lead to the growth of toxins and plaque in our body leading to various health problems like acne, fatigue, etc.
  2. Supplements of these berries also contain herbs like feverfew, gingko, garlic which result in the thinning of blood and leads to severe bleeding. Avoid any health supplements containing the above ingredients.
  3. Echinacea herb in the plant’s supplement leads to inflammation of the liver and in severe cases, it may damage the liver.
  4. High dogase can suppress the immune system.
  5. High consumption of the berries leads to a reduction in the blood pressure which can sometimes prove to be fatal for people who are suffering from cardiac diseases.

Nutritional Composition

Acai palm tree is rich in vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, C, and E. It is also rich in minerals like manganese, iron, copper, potassium, calcium, glutamic, and aspartic acid. There are as many as 19 types of amino acids, palmitic, oleic and linoleic acid (omega-3, 6 and nine fatty acids). Plant sterols (stigmasterol, campesterol, beta-sitosterol), anthocyanins, polyphenols, small quantities of resveratrol and compounds similar to flavonoids.

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