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Leopoldinia piassaba - Wallace

Common Name Piassaba
Family Arecaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Sandy soils near blackwater rivers and streams, rarely on white-water rivers[768 ].
Range Northern S. America - northern Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Full sun
Leopoldinia piassaba Piassaba

Leopoldinia piassaba Piassaba


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Piassaba, Leopoldinia piassaba, is a palm native to Brazil and Venezuela that grows about 4 or 5 m tall with a trunk diameter of 15 cm. Its crown is composed of 14 - 16 sword-shaped, yellow green leaves with each leaf measuring about 4-5 m long. The fruits are kidney shaped and flattened. The mesocarp of the fruits is eaten raw or made into a refreshing beverage. Piassaba is highly valued for its high quality and water resistant fibre which can be obtained from the leaf sheath. It is used to make ropes, brushes, brooms, and baskets among others.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Leopoldinia piassaba is an evergreen Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


No synonyms are recorded for this name.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses: Drink

The mesocarp of the fruits is eaten raw or made into a refreshing beverage[317 , 424 ]. The thin flesh of the fruit, agitated with water, makes a popular local drink.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Basketry  Broom  Fibre  Polish  String  Thatching

Other Uses A fibre is obtained from the leaf sheath[46 , 317 ]. Known as 'piassaba fibre', it is used for making heavy ropes, where it can take the place of manila hemp (Musa textilis)[46 ]. The fibre is also used for making brushes, brooms and baskets[46 , 424 ]. The fibres resist rotting, even after long periods of immersion in water; the Brazilians used them to make cables to navigate the Amazon[424 ]. They are also used for making rope, brooms, brushes and baskets. The foliar sheaths terminate in long (0.5 - 1.5 metres), pendulous fibres. The fibres at first appear as light brown ribbon-like strips, 2 - I0cm wide, that later split into dark brown to greyish brown individual fibres. These fibres persist and hang, entirely concealing the stem, and giving the tree a most curious and unique appearance[424 ]. The leaves are used for thatch[317 ]. The leaves resist rotting, even after long periods of being wet, and make a very resistant thatch[424 ]. They are, therefore, the most sought after of the local palms[424 ]. The nuts, which are a source of vegetable ivory, are encased in a hard, botryoidal shell which itself takes a nice polish. These shells are mostly 3 - 4cm in diameter and are 5 - 8cm long. The nuts are smaller and are loose in the shells. They have a fine delicate dark veining and are quite beautiful when turned or polished.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Fiber  Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Oil

Not known

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Fiber  Clothing, rugs, sheets, blankets etc. Currently, almost none of our fiber are produced from perennial crops but could be!
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.
  • Staple Crop: Oil  (0-15 percent protein, 16+ percent oil). Some of these are consumed whole while others are exclusively pressed for oil. Annuals include canola, poppyseed, maize, cottonseed, sunflower, peanut. Perennials include high-oil fruits, seeds, and nuts, such as olive, coconut, avocado, oil palm, shea, pecan, and macadamia. Some perennial oil crops are consumed whole as fruits and nuts, while others are exclusively pressed for oil (and some are used fresh and for oil).

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed -

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Piassaba, Piassabam Chiquechique, Chiquichiqui, Fibra, Piassabam Chiquechique, Chiquichiqui, Fibra,

Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Colombia; Brazil, Amazon, Brazil, Colombia, South America, Venezuela,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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