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Caryocar brasiliense - Cambess.

Common Name Pequi, Souari nut
Family Caryocaraceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The seed has a large number of small spines which can injure the mucous membranes of the mouth[ 419 ].
Habitats Forms pure groves in the plateaux and valleys of the savannah, elsewhere it is usually found as scattered individuals[ 324 ]. Found in both primary and secondary formations[ 419 ].
Range S. America - northern Argentina, southern, eastern, central and northern Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Caryocar brasiliense Pequi, Souari nut

Caryocar brasiliense Pequi, Souari nut
Mateus Hidalgo wikimedia.org


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Pequi or 'souari nut' (Caryocar brasiliense) is a popular fruit tree in Brazil. It is relatively slow-growing and drought tolerant when fully established. It grows up to 10 m tall with a crooked bole, deep taproot, and rounded, spreading crown. The palmate leaves are large, tough, and hairy. The flowers are hermaphrodite and yellowish-white in colour. The fruit is dark purple but turns to green as it ripens. It is strongly scented with a sweet, fleshy pulp. The seeds yield edible oil which is mainly used for flavouring, in cosmetics, soap making, as an illuminant and lubricant. Pequi has several medicinal uses. In particular, the bark is used to induce urination and reduce fever, and the fruits and seed oil (with honey) can both be used separately against cold and bronchitis. The wood is used for engraving, construction, furniture, etc.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Caryocar brasiliense is a deciduous Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bats, Insects. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Acantacaryx pinguis Arruda ex Koster Caryocar intermedium Wittm.


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

Edible portion: Fruit, Nut. The oily, mucilaginous fruit is nutritious[ 324 ]. A strongly scented, fleshy pulp[ 416 , 419 ]. It has a sweet flavour, but is an acquired taste and is mainly used as a flavouring or as a famine food[ 324 ]. The fruit is eaten fresh or used for sweets and liqueur. The fruit, including the seed, is cooked with rice[ 419 ]. A kind of butter and suet are extracted from the fruit[ 419 ]. The kernel is rarely eaten because of endocarp spines[ 324 ]. The seed has a large number of small spines which can injure the mucous membranes of the mouth[ 419 ]. The seeds are the source of an edible oil that is mainly used for flavouring[ 324 ]. The high melting point of the oil may give it potential as a cocoa butter substitute[ 324 ]

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.
Diuretic  Febrifuge

The flowers, fruits and seeds are used in local medicine[ 324 ]. The bark is diuretic and febrifuge[ 739 ]. The fruits are used in the treatment of the common cold and bronchitis[ 739 ]. The seed oil, combined with honey, is used in the treatment of the common cold and bronchitis[ 739 ]. The leaves contain triterpenes, sterols and ellagic acid[ 739 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Fencing  Fuel  Furniture  Oil  Soap making  Tannin  Wood

Other uses rating: Low (2/5). Other Uses The oil from the seed is used in the cosmetic industry and locally for making soap, as an illuminant and lubricant[ 324 ]. The leaves, bark and fruit pulp are a source of tannin[ 324 ]. The wood is moderately heavy, soft, of good natural durability. It is used for engraving, construction, wooden machinery parts, furniture, fences etc[ 324 , 419 ]. The wood is used for fuel and to make charcoal[ 324 ]. Attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds. Suitable for xeriscaping.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Oil

A plant of the drier tropics and subtropics, it grows naturally in areas with an annual rainfall of 1,000 - 1,500 mm and a dry season of 3 - 5 months, with relative humidity as low as 13%[ 324 ]. Requires a sunny position[ 419 ]. Adapted to nutrient-poor, heavy clays, especially iron and aluminium-rich soils[ 324 ]. Established plants are drought tolerant[ 324 , 419 ]. Large trees may yield up to 2,000 fruits[ 324 ]. A fairly slow-growing tree, reaching a height of up to 1.5 metres when two years old[ 419 ]. The tree has potential as an oil crop for the drier regions of the world, being well-adapted to nutrient-poor soils and long dry seasons[ 324 ]. A cultivated fruit tree. Self-fertile but more fruit is produced with cross-pollination.

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

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Seeds - they contain a germination inhibitor and can take one year to germinate;[ 324 , 419 ]. Stratification of the endocarp with mesocarp removed is recommended[ 324 ]. Alternatively, immerse the seeds in warm water for 48 hours, changing the water every 12 hours[ 419 ]. Sow the seed in individual containers in a sunny or lightly shaded position. Pre-soaked seed can sprout within 30 - 50 days with a moderate germination rate[ 419 ]. Seedlings can be planted out when 25 cm tall[ 324 ]. Good results can be obtained from grafting and marcottage[ 324 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Pequi or Òsouari nutÓ (Caryocar brasiliense). Other Names: Pequi, Piquia-oil plant , Piqui, Choky apple, Piquia-bravo, Amendoa-de-espinho, Grao-de-cavalo, Pequia, Pequia-pedra, Pequerim, Suari, Piquia, Brazilian souari nut Broadleaved Lucuma.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Native to South America: Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. Found In: Amazon, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, South America.

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.

None Known

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Caryocar nuciferumSouari Nut. Butter NutTree45.0 10-12 MLMHNM422
Caryocar villosumPiquiaTree30.0 10-12 SLMHNM302

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

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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