The ouricury palm or aricuri palm, licuri palm (Syagrus coronata (Mart.) Becc.) is an arboreal species belonging to the Arecaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Species S. coronata.
The term is basionym:
– Cocos coronata Mart..
The terms are synonymous:
– Arecastrum romanzoffianum var. ensifolium (Drude) Becc.;
– Calappa coronata (Mart.) Kuntze;
– Cocos botryophora var. ensifolia Drude;
– Cocos coronata var. todari Becc.;
– Cocos quinquefaria Barb.Rodr.;
– Glaziova treubiana Becc.;
– Syagrus coronata var. todari (Becc.) Becc.;
– Syagrus quinquefaria (Barb.Rodr.) Becc.;
– Syagrus treubiana (Becc.) Becc..
The term Syagrus is of uncertain origin; the most accredited hypothesis is that it derives from the name syagrus given by Pliny the Elder (23/24 AD – 79) to a variety of date palm.
The specific epithet coronata comes from the Latin coronatus, a, um, crowned, wreathed, in reference to the persistent residues of the leaf bases which are arranged helically in five rows.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The Syagrus coronata is a palm native to Brazil (regions of Alagoas, Bahia, northern Minas Gerais, Pernambuco and Sergipe), endemic to the Brazilian caatinga (exclusively Brazilian biome, characteristic of the region called Sertão).
The largest concentrations are found in the state of Bahia, in particular the municipalities of Itiúba, Maracás, Milagres, Monte Santo, Santa Teresinha and Senhor do Bonfim.
Its habitat is predominantly that of the dry forest, known locally as caatinga, and marginally of the savannah (cerrado) and coastal rainforest (restinga).
The Syagrus coronata is a monoecious, evergreen palm with an imposing habit that can reach up to 12 m in height.
It has a solitary erect, cylindrical stem, 6-12 m in height and 20-28 cm in diameter, covered largely by the residues of the leaf bases which are greyish in color and with prominent annular scars at the attachment of the leaves in the older.
The leaves are borne by a short petiole, arranged helically in five rows; they are pinnate, 2.5-3 m long, with 90-120 pairs of rigid, linear leaflets with sharp apex, 35-40 cm long in the central part and 2-3 cm wide; they are arranged on the rachis in groups of 2-5 on various corners, dark green in the upper part, bluish green and covered with a whitish waxy patina in the lower part; the leaf bases and petioles are equipped with flat woody fibers 2-5 cm long at the edges.
The inflorescences are interfoliar, yellowish in colour, about 90 cm long, initially enclosed within an externally tomentose woody spathe, with first-order ramifications and unisexual flowers arranged in triads (one female flower between two males), except in the terminal part of the rachillae where only solitary or paired male flowers are present.
The male flowers are lanceolate, about 1 cm long, with 3 sepals and 3 free petals and 6 stamens; the female ones are ovoid in shape, about 0.6 cm long, with 3 sepals and 3 free petals, trilocular gynoecium and 3 curved stigmas.
The fruits are ovoid drupes, 2-2.8 cm long and 1.4-2 cm in diameter, yellow-orange in color and covered with a brown tomentum, containing a single ovoid seed of about 2.2 cm. in length and 1.3 cm in diameter.
Syagrus coronata is a palm widely used by native populations for which it provides a variety of foods and medicines, as well as various materials, including oil, wax and fibre. This palm is commonly collected from the wild and is sometimes grown as an ornamental plant.
It is a slow-growing palm typical of humid tropical and subtropical areas, growing naturally in areas with seasonal rainfall. For this reason it can be cultivated in regions with a warm temperate climate, where as an adult it can resist temperatures down to -3/-4 °C, if exceptional and short-lived, with possible damage to the foliage.
For cultivation it needs full sun, except in the initial growth phase in which it requires partial shade and, from a pedological point of view, it above all prefers very fertile soils, even if dry and gravelly but it also grows in calcareous soils.
The plant can flower most of the year.
Additionally the tree can live for 30-150 years, although most live on average only 8-10 years.
Reproduction occurs by seed, previously kept in water for 3 days, in draining soil kept humid at a temperature of 26-28 °C, with germination times starting from 2-4 months.
Customs and Traditions –
Syagrus coronata is a plant known by various common names, among which are the following: coqueiro-cabeçudo, licuri, licurizeiri, nicurí, ouricurí and urucurí (Portuguese-Brazil).
This palm plays an important role among the populations who live in the semi-arid environment of the “caatinga”, where it may happen that it does not rain for several years, and for the fauna, in particular the survival of the Anodorhynchus leari depends on its fruits, a parrot at very high risk of extinction that feeds approximately 95% of this fruit in its diet. The tree plays an important role in the diet of animals in tropical forests with long dry seasons.
In the Descriptive Treatise of Brazil, in 1587, Gabriel Soares de Sousa, is the first to comment on the usefulness of Syagrus coronata as a food source.
The fruits have a yellow, fibrous and rather sweet pulp, rich in β-carotene; these are consumed fresh or to prepare juices and ice creams, as is the oily endosperm, also used in various local dishes and to produce margarine.
The oil, as well as in food, is used in the soap industry and has good characteristics for possible use as a biofuel.
The old leaves are used to cover rural homes and the young ones to make various handicraft objects, primarily hats, and brooms, fans, baskets, mats etc., which also represent a small economic resource, and in livestock feeding, the dried leaves are also used as fuel.
The wax, with similar characteristics to that obtained from the leaves of Copernicia prunifera, known as “carnauba”, is used in shoe polishes and furniture and car paints.
To protect the cultivation, harvesting and processing of this palm, a garrison has been set up according to traditional methods, and as part of this Slow Food project in collaboration with Coopes, founded in 2005, they intend to promote the product on the local market and national.
Unfortunately, the destruction of small seedlings by livestock represents a threat to plants, mainly through the destruction of concentrated forests that are vital for the survival of Anodorhynchus leari.
In agroforestry use the plant is seen as an indicator of fertile soil in nature.
Preparation Method –
Syagrus coronata is a palm used for various purposes.
In the food sector, unripe or ripe fruits, fresh or toasted, are consumed.
The fruit is served with fish or chicken, while the milk is used in the preparation of rice. Walnut (coconut) is one of the typical ingredients that is part of the various dishes of Bahian cuisine: toasted or caramelized licuri, granola, cocada, biscuits, paçoca, oil, coconut milk, etc.
The leaves are eaten cooked and the apical shoot, often known as the “heart of palm”, is consumed as a vegetable.
However, the removal of this shoot leads to the death of the tree because it is unable to produce lateral shoots.
Sometimes the seed is also eaten.
From the seed a non-drying oil is obtained which is used to make margarine.
The pith of the stem is used to make bread.
In the medicinal field, the oil of the seeds is useful for healing some wounds.
Among other uses, by scraping the leaves a wax is obtained, called ‘licuri wax’ which is used to make torches.
An oil obtained from the seed is used to make soap.
The dried leaves are used to make dusters, hats, brooms, etc.
The seeds are used to make rosaries.
The wood is moderately heavy, hard, of poor durability when exposed to the elements, and is only used locally for construction.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.