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Bactris gasipaes - Kunth

Common Name Peach Palm, Pupunha
Family Arecaceae
USDA hardiness 11-12
Known Hazards The stems are usually heavily armed with rings of very sharp, black spines about 5 cm long[ 314 ].(Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling )
Habitats Not known in a truly wild location[ 300 , 200 ]. Plants are found in disturbed natural ecosystems, principally along riverbeds and primary forest gaps[ 303 ].
Range Central and northern S. America.
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Bactris gasipaes Peach Palm, Pupunha

Bactris gasipaes Peach Palm, Pupunha


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Peach Palm or Bactris gasipaes is a tropical tall, slender palm that grows up to 24 m in height. It is native to South and Central America. Thorns are present on the trunk and suckers are formed at the base. Seed oil is used medicinally as a rub for relief from rheumatic pains. It is also edible and is used for cooking. The ovoid, yellow to orange fruit is highly nutritious. It is cooked or ground into flour and used in baking. The seed is edible as well - consumed as a nut or made into a meal to flavour drinks. The apical bud is cooked as a vegetable. The pinnate leaves are used as a thatch and as a source of green dye for fabrics. Plant spines are used as needles in tattooing. The roots have vermicidal properties. Fibre used in paper-making can be obtained from the whole plant. The wood is used in construction. Peach palm is grown from seeds or suckers.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Bactris gasipaes is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 7 m (23ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Insects, wind.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Bactris caribaea H.Karst. Bactris ciliata (Ruiz & Pav.) Mart. Bactris coccinea Barb.Rodr. Bactris da

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Fruit  Oil  Seed  Shoots
Edible Uses: Condiment  Oil  Salt

Edible portion: Fruit, Flower shoots, Cabbage, Palm heart, Vegetable. Fruit - cooked[ 297 ]. An acquired taste, mealy and nutty in flavour[ 200 ]. The flavour is variable, ranging from bland to strong[ 303 ]. Inedible raw, it is boiled in salt water for 30 - 60 minutes, when it becomes floury-textured, oily and pleasant tasting with good nutritious qualities[ 297 , 303 ]. The fruit is always cooked, because of the presence of an alkaloid, pupunhadine[ 303 ]. The fruit is highly nutritious, being very rich in carbohydrate and protein[ 200 ]. The fruits are also ground into a flour for baking bread, cakes etc[ 297 ]. The ovoid fruit is about 6cm long[ 200 ]. The fruit palm is an energy-rich source of carbohydrates and oil; the pulp contains all the essential amino acids and is an excellent source of quality protein[ 303 ]. The mesocarp is rich in beta-carotene[ 303 ]. It is regarded as probably the most nutritionally balanced of tropical fruits; has twice the protein content of the banana and can produce more carbohydrate per ha than maize[ 324 ]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[ 301 ]. It is called oil of macanilla[ 301 ]. The mesocarp oil has a relatively high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids, notably oleic acid, and contains no cholesterol[ 303 ]. It is used for cooking[ 303 ]. Seed - eaten raw or made into a meal to flavour drinks[ 301 ]. Consumed as nuts[ 303 ]. A salt substitute is made by cooking the spadix[ 301 ]. The cooked male flowers are used as a condiment[ 303 ]. The apical bud is cooked and eaten as a vegetable[ 301 , 763 ]. A delicacy, in some areas it is eaten as a salad[ 303 ]. Fresh, dried and canned palmito is being marketed for use in salads, soups and fillings and as roasted chips[ 303 ]. Eating the bud effectively kills the trunk since it is unable to produce side shoots[ 301 ]. Some plants in this species form multi-trunks and so harvesting the apical bud will only kill one stem, not the plant[ K ]. An important food in South America.

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.

The oil from the seeds is used as a rub to ease rheumatic pains[ 739 ]. The fruit are high in Vitamin A. The red variety has 2.76 mg of carotene while the yellow variety has 0.835 mg.

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Basketry  Cosmetic  Dye  Fibre  Needles  Oil  Paper  Plant support  Shelterbelt  Soap making  Thatching  Wood

Other uses rating: High (4/5). Other Uses An oil is obtained from the seed. This species may turn out to be a better economic option than most other American oil palms. Oil levels of up to 62% of the dry weight have been reported, and there are reports that a large pot of boiling fruit can produce 2-3 kg of oil[ 303 ]. The oil separates easily when the fruits are cooked. As with other palms, it is a potential source of lauric oils. The seed is rich in saturated fatty acids, and could be used to manufacture cosmetics and soap[ 303 ]. The leaves yield thatch for houses and basket materials[ 303 ]. The spines of the plant are used in tattooing[ 46 ]. (Probably as needles[ K ].) The leaves provide a green dye for colouring fabrics[ 303 ]. The roots provide a vermicide[ 303 ]. The whole plant, including the leaf and stem parts, produces a valuable fibre for manufacturing paper[ 303 ]. Cellulose may be produced for cellophane paper and rayon[ 303 ]. Wood - exceptionally hard and strong, it has many uses[ 297 ]. Used in construction[ 46 ]. It is a durable material for bows, arrows, fishing poles, harpoons and carvings[ 303 ]. The Amerindians use the wood for flooring and panelling their houses and also fashion long spines into needles[ 303 ]. In rural Amazonia, the stem is valued for parquet, furniture, carvings and home construction[ 303 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Agroforestry Services: Living trellis  Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Management: Managed Multistem  Other Systems: Homegarden  Other Systems: Multistrata  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Balanced carb  Staple Crop: Oil

Plants succeed in moist tropical climates with heavy rainfall and poor soils[ 303 ]. They grow in lowland areas below 800 metres, where temperatures never fall below 10°c, the average annual rainfall is 1,500mm or more and the driest month has 25mm or more rain[ 297 , 303 ]. They can withstand relatively hot dry seasons of 3 - 4 months[ 303 ]. Requires a fertile, moist, but well-drained soil, a humid atmosphere and some protection from strong sun[ 200 ]. Seedlings develop very slowly under forest shade conditions, and mature plants require full sunlight for optimal production of flowers, fruits and offshoots[ 303 ]. Plants are most productive when grown on relatively deep, fertile, well-drained soils, clay soils, and highly eroded laterites with 50% aluminium-saturated, acid soils[ 303 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4 - 7.5[ 418 ]. The spiny stem of the tree grows rapidly in height, attaining 15 - 20 metres in just 10 years[ 303 ]. Plants begin flowering when 3 - 5 years old, and can produce two fruit crops a year for the next 50 - 75 years[ 303 , 418 ]. Fruit yields may be as high as 10 - 30 tonnes/ha, but are often only about 2 - 3 tonnes/ha[ 418 ]. Yields of 50 - 100 kilos per trunk per year are not unusual[ 418 ]. For palm hearts the yield ranges from 4,000 - 10,000 hearts/ha per year[ 418 ]. Plants sometimes produce just a solitary trunk, at other times they can have several trunks[ 297 ]. Plants produce rings of needle-like spines 5cm long[ 301 ]. This can make harvesting the fruit and buds rather unpleasant. There is at least one named form, called 'Spineless', that is entirely free of these spines[ 301 ]. There are other forms that have seedless fruits[ 46 , 768 ]. A shallow-rooted plant[ 418 ]. Under subsistence conditions palms are often widely spaced but for intensive agriculture it is planted at 400-500 plants/ha for fruit and 3000 to 20 000 plants for heart-of-palm.

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Plants providing crop shade especially trees.
  • Agroforestry Services: Living trellis  Plants to physically support other crops.
  • Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Linear plantings of trees and shrubs designed to enhance crop production, protect people and livestock and benefit soil and water conservation.
  • Management: Managed Multistem  Regularly removing some multiple stems. A non-A non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Other Systems: Homegarden  Tropical multistrata agroforestry (multi-story combinations of trees, crops, domestic animals in the homestead).
  • Other Systems: Multistrata  Multistrata agroforests feature multiple layers of trees often with herbaceous perennials, annual crops, and livestock.
  • 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: Balanced carb  (0-15 percent protein, 0-15 percent oil, with at least one over 5 percent). The carbohydrates are from either starch or sugar. Annuals include maize, wheat, rice, and potato. Perennials include chestnuts, carob, perennial fruits, nuts, cereals, pseudocereals, woody pods, and acorns.
  • 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 - pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water and sow in containers. Germination takes 2 months or more[ 297 ]. The seed has a limited viability and needs to be sown as fresh as possible[ 297 ]. Seedlings require about 6 - 9 months in the nursery; planting out should be done when the soil is humid and the potential evapotranspiration rate is low[ 303 ]. Seeds are recalcitrant. They rapidly lose viability when dried and should not be exposed to direct sunlight during germination[ 303 ]. Fresh seed has 45-50% mc, and if this falls below 38-40%, germination is reduced[ 303 ]. Seed is rarely formed in this species[ 297 ]. Division of suckers from a mature palm after it has produced four stems[ 314 ]. Suckers should have produced roots and be 7 to 8 cm in diameter at the base and 1 to 1. 5 metres high[ 314 ]. Mycorrhizae attached to the roots give fast growth rates.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Peach Palm or Bactris gasipaes. Other Names: Pejibaye, Pupunha, Pejivalle chontaduro, Pewa palm, Pijuayo, Chonta de Castilla, Tembe, Siri, Ziri, Uwi, Pisbae, Chontaduro, Paripou, Pejibayu, Pijiguao, Pupunheira, Piraja-pupunha, Pupunha-maraja.

Found In: Amazon, Asia, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Nicaragua, Pacific, Panama, Peru, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, SE Asia, South America, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, 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.

None Known

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

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

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