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Mauritia flexuosa - L.f.

Common Name Buriti Palm, Aguaje Palm
Family Arecaceae
USDA hardiness 11-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Riverine swamps[314 ]. Found in poorly drained or periodically flooded soils[335 ]. Usually in permanently swampy areas, often forming extensive, high-density stands; also in gallery forests; usually at elevations below 500 metres, occ. to 900 metres[768 ].
Range Northern S. America - Brazil, Bolivia and Peru northwards to the Guyanas and Caribbean.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Mauritia flexuosa Buriti Palm, Aguaje Palm


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Mauritia flexuosa Buriti Palm, Aguaje Palm
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Summary

Mauritia flexuosa or commonly known as Buriti Palm or Moriche Palm is a slow-growing, dioecious palm tree that grows on wet areas, like swamps, in South America. It reaches a height of about 35 m and a trunk diameter of up to 50 cm. The crown is rounded and composed of large green leaves. The flowers are yellow. The bark is gray-brown to black. The fruits are chestnut color and covered with shiny scales. It yields edible oil. It can be consumed raw, dried and ground into flour, processed into desserts, or made into a beverage. The pith of the trunk is a source of edible starch used as a sago. The apical bud or called as palm heart is consumed as a vegetable. Young inflorescence is tapped to yield a sap which can be boiled down to make a sugar or fermented into palm wine. Medicinally, the seed oil is used for burns and the fruits are eaten as relief for bowel problems. The leaves are used as an to soften skin. It is also used as thatch. It yields fiber which is used to make ropes, hammocks, belts, hats, baskets, fishing nets, etc. The wood is used as posts and as construction material.


Physical Characteristics

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Mauritia flexuosa is an evergreen Tree growing to 25 m (82ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Mauritia minor Burret Mauritia setigera Griseb. & H. Wendl. Mauritia vinifera Mart.

Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Apical bud  Fruit  Leaves  Oil  Sap  Stem
Edible Uses: Oil

An edible oil is obtained from the fruit[46 , 301 ]. The fleshy fruit is eaten raw[317 ]. Rich in vitamins and oil[317 ]. The fruit is also dried and ground into a flour[317 ]. The fruit is 4 - 6cm long[335 ]. A juice made from the pulp of the fruit is eaten with sugar and cassava meal[301 ]. The pulp is also widely used in the production of juice, jam, liqueurs and other exotic drinks with a high vitamin C content[314 ]. A favourite native beverage is produced from the fruits. They are soaked in water till they begin to ferment, and the scales and pulpy matter soften and can be easily rubbed off in water[314 ]. When strained through a sieve it is ready for use, and has a slight acid taste and a peculiar flavour of the fruit at first rather disagreeable to European palates[314 ]. The fruit is made into a cheese-like paste that is sometimes eaten for remedying bowel problems, or to allay hunger when desperate[348 ]. An edible starch is obtained from the pith of the trunk[46 , 301 ]. Used as a sago[317 , 419 ]. Leaves - cooked[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 sideshoots[K ]. A sap obtained by tapping the young, unopened inflorescence can be drunk, boiled down to make a sugar or fermented to make palm wine[301 , 317 ]. A sweet alcoholic drink called 'item' is prepared from the sap[348 ]. The terminal bud is eaten as vegetable[317 ]. Eating this bud will effectively kill the tree since it is unable to produce side branches[K ].

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 seed is high in vitamin A and is frequently used to treat burns, because of its soothing qualities and its ability to promote the formation of scar tissue[314 ]. A pap prepared from the pith is used to treat dysentery and diarrhoea[348 ]. The fruit is made into a cheese-like paste that is sometimes eaten for remedying bowel problems, or to allay hunger when desperate[348 ]. The leaves are used in baths as an emollient[739 ]. The sap from young stems is considered tonic[739 ].

Our new book Edible Shrubs is now available.

Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

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Edible Shrubs Book

Other Uses

Oil

Other Uses The leaves are used for covering roofs[46 , 317 ]. A full-grown fallen leaf of this tree is a grand sight. The expanded sheathing base is 30cm in diameter; the petiole is a solid beam 3 - 3.6 metres, and the leaf itself is up to 3 metres in diameter. An entire leaf is a load for one person[314 ]. A fibre is obtained from the leaves[46 ]. Used to make fishing nets, ropes, hammocks, belts, hats, mats, and baskets[317 , 768 ]. The leaf sheathes are used to make sandals[46 ]. A spongy material, obtained from the petioles of the palm, is made into bottle-stoppers, mats and sandals or is used for paper production[317 , 768 ]. The hard seeds are made into buttons and other small objects[46 , 317 ]. The wood is moderately hard and heavy, but of low durability when exposed[419 ]. The trunks are used as posts and floating bridges, and in the construction of rural buildings[46 , 419 ]. The peripheral parts of the stems serve, like the dried petioles, for the construction of rafts[317 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

Cultivation details

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

A plant of hot, wet, tropical lowlands[335 ], it can also succeed in the warm sub-tropics[314 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 30°c, but can tolerate 18 0 34°c[418 ]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about 10°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 - 4,500mm, but tolerates 1,100 - 6,300mm[418 ]. In areas with less than 2,000 mm of annual rainfall, or with a dry season, water must be available throughout the year[418 ]. Requires a position in full sun, with lots of water[314 ]. Tolerates a range of fertile, acid soils[418 ]. Succeeds in poorly drained soils and acid soils[335 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 4 - 5, tolerating 3.5 - 5.5[418 ]. A very vigorous grower whose roots will normally out compete any nearby plant[314 ]. A slow-growing tree?[419 ]. A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required[768 ]. Spacing: 8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m) 10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m) 12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m).

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).

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a partially shaded position in a nursery seedbed or in individual containers. A moderate germination rate can be expected, with the seed sprouting within 90 - 150 days[419 ]. The seedlings develop slowly[419 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Buriti Palm, Aguaje Palm, Moriche Palm, Burití, Moriche, Caranday-guazu, Murity palm, Aguaje, Palma real, Boriti, Guaish, Carandai-guazu, Mirisi, Achu, Miriti, Canangucho, Morete, Ite palm, Mauriti palm, Coqueiro-buriti, Muriti, Ita Palm, aguaje, buriti, burití, ita palm, itapalm, ite palm, moriche, morichepalme, muriti, murití, tree-of-life, yurumabrot.

Found In

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

Trinidad and Tobago; French Guiana; Guyana; Suriname; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Bolivia, Plurinational State of; Colombia; Ecuador; Peru; Brazil, Amazon, Australia, Bolivia, Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, South America, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, 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
Diospyros tessellariaBlack ebony, Mauritian ebonyTree15.0 10-12 SLMHNM204

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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L.f.

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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