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Oenocarpus bataua - Mart.

Common Name Pataua Palm. Bataua
Family Arecaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rainforest[314 ]. Tropical rainforests of South America, in a wide range of growing conditions from swampy lowlands to mountainous regions[370 ]. Found in both inundated and non-inundated areas[768 ].
Range Northern S. America - Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas; C. America - Panama; Caribbean - Trinidad.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Full sun
Oenocarpus bataua Pataua Palm. Bataua

Oenocarpus bataua Pataua Palm. Bataua


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Oenocarpus bataua is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 12 m (39ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Jessenia bataua (Mart.) Burret Jessenia oligocarpa Griseb. & H.Wendl. Jessenia polycarpa H.Karst. Jessenia repanda Engl. Jessenia weberbaueri Burret Oenocarpus batawa Wallace Oenocarpus oligocarpus (Griseb. & H.Wendl.) Wess.Boer Oenocarpus seje Cuervo Márquez

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Apical bud  Fruit  Leaves  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Colouring  Drink  Oil

A light greenish-yellow oil is obtained from the fruit[301 ]. Used as a salad or cooking oil317]. Very stable, it does not easily turn rancid[370 ]. It is almost identical with olive oil[301 , 370 ]. Used in cooking and as a colouring for chocolates[301 ]. Traditionally, the oil is extracted by pounding the fruit, boiling it in water and skimming off the oil as it floats on the surface[370 ]. Fruit - a sweet flavour46]. The thin, oily mesocarp has a chocolate-like flavour, and is very popular[355 ]. It is usually soaked before eating to soften the pulp[355 ]. The fleshy fruit can be eaten fried[317 ]. The fruit is about 3cm long and 2cm wide[416 ]. A nutritious protein- and oil-rich beverage (agua de seche) is made from the fruit pulp[46 , 317 ]. It is sometimes made into an alcoholic drink by fermentation[317 ]. A nutritious milk-like beverage is made by mixing the juice of the pulp with manioc meal[301 ]. Seed - cooked[324 ]. Eaten mainly by poor people[324 ]. Leaves - cooked[317 , 763 ]. The apical bud, often known as a 'palm heart', is eaten as a vegetable[763 ]. Eating this bud leads to the death of the tree because it is unable to make side shoots[K ].

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.
Purgative  Tonic

The fruits are soaked in warm water to soften, the seed coat is removed, and the remainder is macerated in cold water, strained, and drunk or used as a tonic[348 ]. The oil obtained from the fruit is used medicinally[317 ]. It is used as a carrier oil - the wood chips of Schefflera morototoni are steeped in the oil and then the oil is massaged into the back to relieve pain in the vertebral column[348 ]. The oil from the seed is purgative and is also used to treat tuberculosis[739 ]. The hard endosperm is crushed and eaten to cure snake bites[355 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
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Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
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Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

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Other Uses

Basketry  Dye  Fibre  Oil  Soap  String  Thatching  Wood

The kernels yield an edible oil, somewhat similar to olive oil, that can also be made into soap and is used in the cosmetic industry[370 ]. The fronds of the palm are used for thatching[370 ]. The leaves are used for making walls and baskets[317 , 768 ]. The hair-like fibres of the leaves are used to produce ropes for the navy[317 ]. The spine-like fibres of the leaf sheath are made into darts for the blowpipe[317 , 768 ]. A dark blue dye is obtained from the fruit[317 ]. The wood is utilized for the manufacture of bows and arrow points[317 ]. The trunks are exploited for construction[317 , 768 ]. The wood of the stem is split and used for floors, and for other construction needs[355 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Experimental Crop  Industrial Crop: Fiber  Staple Crop: Oil

A plant of low to moderate elevations in the humid tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,350 metres[314 , 370 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 21 - 28°c, but can tolerate 17 - 32°c[418 ]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about 5°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 - 4,000mm, but tolerates 1,500 - 6,300mm[418 ]. Requires a sunny position and a moist soil[314 ]. Very young plants require a shady position, becoming more light-demanding as they grow older[418 ]. Tolerates Prefers a pH in the range 4.8 - 5.5, tolerating 4.3 - 6.5[418 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Experimental Crop  Plant breeders are testing these plants to see if they could be domesticated for cultivation, but they are still in an experimental phase. Examples include milkweed and leafy spurge.
  • Industrial Crop: Fiber  Clothing, rugs, sheets, blankets etc. Currently, almost none of our fiber are produced from perennial crops but could be!
  • 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 - requires a shady position[418 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Seje, Chapil, Trupa, Milpesos, Ungurai, Aricagua, Ungurahui, Kunkuk', Patawa, Turu, Komboe, Yagua, Aricagua, Isa, Batawa, Jagua, Mille pesos, Palma de leche, Palma patavona, Majo, Gindoru, Dudiba, Seje ungurahuay, Ungurabi, Koanarima si,patawa, sehe, hungurahua (Ecuador) or mingucha (Oenocarpus bataua or Jessenia bataua)[1-4].

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Found In

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

Australia, Amazon, Bolivia, Brazil (native), Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guianas, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, South America, Suriname, Trinidad, Venezuela, West Indies [1-4].

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
Oenocarpus distichusPataua, Bacaba, White bacabaTree8.0 10-12 SLMHNM322

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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