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Phytelephas aequatorialis - Spruce

Common Name Vegetable ivory, Corozo, Ivory palm
Family Arecaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats An understorey palm of the rain forest, growing on wet lowlands, often near rivers, on the coastal plain; ascending to 1,500 metres[768 ]. It is often left in pastures when the forest is cleared[768 ].
Range S. America - western Ecuador.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Phytelephas aequatorialis Vegetable ivory, Corozo, Ivory palm

Phytelephas aequatorialis Vegetable ivory, Corozo, Ivory palm
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Phytelephas aequatorialis or also known as Vegetable Ivory or Corozo is a tropical, dioecious palm found in Australia, Brazil, Central America, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and other parts of South America. It is a solitary palm growing about 16 m tall, with trunk diameter of up to 30 cm. It has a large and round leaf crown, with each leaf measuring about 5-6 m long. It is the main source of a botanical alternative to ivory known as Ecuadorean vegetable ivory or tagua. The seed is edible. Liquid endosperm is consumed as a drink. The leaves are cooked and the apical buds are eaten as a vegetable. The endocarp is very hard and used for making buttons, chess pieces, etc. The leaves are used as a thatch.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Phytelephas aequatorialis is an evergreen Tree growing to 12 m (39ft) by 5 m (16ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Beetles, Flies, Bees. The plant is not self-fertile.
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 can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Palandra aequatorialis (Spruce) O.F.Cook

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

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

The seed is eaten in various ways. When immature, the liquid endosperm is used as a refreshing drink[768 ]. As it becomes harder and more jelly-like, it is eaten as a food[768 ]. The orange, fleshy fruit is eaten as a delicacy[768 ]. 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 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.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Beads  Buttons  Thatching

Other Uses: The endocarp of the seed is very hard. Known as vegetable ivory, it is used for making buttons, chess pieces and ornamental articles of various kinds[324 , 768 ]. The leaves are used as a thatch[768 ].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required[768 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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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,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed -

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Vegetable ivory, Corozo, Ivory palm, tagua - Spanish, Coroso, Tagua, Trapa, Cade,

Ecuador, Australia, Brazil, Central America, Panama, Peru, 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.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Near Threatened

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Phytelephas macrocarpaVegetable Ivory, Tagua, Nut Palm, Ivory nut palmTree3.5 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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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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