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Astrocaryum vulgare - Mart.

Common Name Tucuma. Awarra palm, Tucum palm.
Family Arecaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rainforest[297 ]. Especially in disturbed sites[324 ]. Found in the rainforest of the Amazon and the savannahs of Surinam on flat to gently rolling terrain[418 ]. Occurs mainly on land that is not subject to periodic inundation[419 ].
Range S. America - northern Brazil and the Guyanas.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Astrocaryum vulgare Tucuma. Awarra palm, Tucum palm.

Astrocaryum vulgare Tucuma. Awarra palm, Tucum palm.
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This plant has edible fruit, which are also used for biodiesel production. The fruits have a mildly sweet flavor, and are high in vitamin A.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Astrocaryum vulgare is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant is not wind tolerant.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Astrocaryum awarra de Vriese Astrocaryum guianense Splitg. ex Mart. Astrocaryum segregatum Drude Astrocaryum tucumoides Drude

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Apical bud  Fruit  Oil  Sap  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

Fruit - raw[297 , 416 ]. Slightly sweet[416 ]. A flavour similar to apricots[301 ]. Used for making juices[418 ]. The mesocarp is rich in provitamin A; it provides a fatty, mashed pulp that is used to prepare the very popular French Guianan dish 'bouillon d'awara', which is traditionally eaten at Easter time[1869 ]. The orange-red, globose to ovoid fruit is 35 - 45mm long and 25 - 35mm wide with a fleshy mesocarp covering a single large seed[1874 ]. After harvesting, the fruits are stored for 3 days in sacks to ripen and allow the pulp soften slightly. They must then be eaten within 3 - 4 days before they dry and rot where bruised[324 ]. The immature endosperm gives a juice called vino de tucuma, used for a drink or in culinary preparations[418 ]. An excellent oil, used for cooking, can be obtained from the fruits[297 , 324 ]. Similar to coconut oil[301 , 418 ]. The seed contains a hard white substance from which a fine edible fat can be extracted[418 ]. The seed contains 30 - 50% oil[419 ]. The fruits and seeds of various species in this genus are reported to be used for oil production in the Amazon region[1869 ]. Existing analyses of fruit fat content show a relatively homogeneous composition among the different species, with around. 20% of fat content in the mesocarp, mostly composed of oleic and palmitic acids, and 20 - 35% of fat content in the endosperm, with a predominance of lauric acid[1869 ]. The palm heart (the inner core and growing bud of the plant) is harvested[418 Ecocrop Publication Author Website http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home Publisher Year 0 ISBN Description Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available. ]. It provides a crispy food, rich in nutrients, that can be eaten raw or cooked. Harvesting the heart will lead to the death of the stem it was harvested from, though in multi-stemmed plants such as this the rest of the plant will continue to grow and often produce new stems[K ]. A wine is made from the fermented sap of the spathe[418 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

A decoction of the root is used to treat furunculosis and syphilis[348 ]. The oil from the seed is laxative[348 ]. It is used to treat rheumatism, pain and earache. It is used in a preparation for treating furuncles and is also swabbed onto aching feet and rubbed on feverish people to assist perspiration[348 ]. The fruit can be utilized against the eye disease xerophthalmia (also called ophthalmoxerosis) of which the deficiency of vitamin A is the main reason[418 ]. The whole fruit is used to calm colicky babies[348 ]. The pulp of the fruit is used to treat coughs and as a breath freshener[348 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


An oil can be obtained from the fruits[297 ]. It is used in soap making[324 , 418 ]. A fine, soft, strong and durable fibre can be obtained from the unopened leaves[297 , 454 ]. It is used for weaving and cordage[297 ]. It is said to be the strongest fibre that can be produced in Amazonia and is widely used for making hammocks, ropes, bags, clothes etc[324 , 418 , 454 ]. The fibre is resistant to rot and damage and was therefore in use on sail- ships in the earlier centuries[418 ]. Fibre can be extracted from the petiole after soaking it in water[1874 ]. The leaflets are used in making baskets[1869 The genus Astrocaryum (Arecaceae) Publication Rev. peru. biol. 15(supl. 1): 031- 048 (Noviembre 2008) Author Kahn F. Publisher Year 2008 ISBN 1727-9933 Description ]. The shell of the kernel is used for making handicrafts such as rings, bracelets and collars[418 ]. The oils extracted from the fruit and the seed are used as ingredients in commercial cosmetic preparations as emollients and skin conditioners[1243 ]. The wood is moderately heavy, very hard, strong and durable[297 , 419 ]. It is used locally in making houses[297 ]. The stems are used as poles for fences, corrals, and rural housing[418 ]. Its resistance to diseases and high productivity make this species an alternative for the production of biodiesel, since the operating costs of an orderly plantation are much less than that of the oil palm.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Oil

A plant of the moist tropical lowlands, where it is found at elevations up to 150 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 28c, but can tolerate 18 - 30c[418 ]. It can be killed by temperatures of 2c or lower[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,300 - 1,800mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 3,000 mm[418 ]. Requires a sunny, sheltered position[297 ]. Seedlings require some shade, whilst larger palms thrive in full sun[418 ]. Plants do not like dry conditions at their roots[297 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 7, tolerating 4 - 8[418 ]. Plants regrow very vigorously from their roots after being cut down or after a fire. They are considered to be a serious weed species of pasture land[419 ]. Young plants have a moderate rate of growth[419 ]. Although usually spiny, occasional spineless forms exist in nature[418 ].

Carbon Farming

  • 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

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

The seed is enclosed in a hard endocarp which makes germination slow and erratic[297 ], and also has a short viability in storage[419 ]. It may benefit from scarification before sowing to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. It is best to sow the seed as soon as it is ripe in a partially shaded position in a nursery seedbed or in individual containers. A high germination rate can usually be expected, with the seed sprouting within 90 - 150 days[419 ]. When the seedbed-sown seedlings are 5 - 8cm tall, pot them up into individual containers and they should be ready to plant out 6 - 9 months later[419 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Aourara, Awara, Chontilla, Cumare, Hericungo, Tucuma palm

Amazon, Asia, Brazil, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guianas, Guyana, Indonesia, SE Asia, Singapore, South America, Suriname

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.

They are considered to be a serious weed species of pasture land

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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