An Eco-sustainable World
ArborealSpecies Plant

Syagrus flexuosa

Syagrus flexuosa

The Acuma (Syagrus flexuosa (Mart.) Becc., 1916) is an arboreal species belonging to the Arecaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Liliopsida,
Subclass Arecidae,
Order Arecales,
Arecaceae family,
Subfamily Arecoideae,
Cocoseae Tribe,
Subtribe Attaleinae,
Genus Syagrus,
Species S. flexuosa.
The term is basionym:
– Cocos flexuosa Mart..
The terms are synonymous:
– Calappa flexuosa (Mart.) Kuntze;
– Cocos flexuosa Mart.;
– Cocos flexuosa var. densiflora Mart..

Etymology –
The term Syagrus is not known, however 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 flexuosa comes from the Latin “flexuosus, a, um”, i.e. sinuous, in reference to the stems.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Syagrus flexuosa is a palm native to an area that includes Bolivia and Brazil, in particular the regions of: Bahia, Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais and São Paulo.
Its natural habitat is that of the cerrado, in open woodlands and disturbed habitats, on sandy to rocky soils, at altitudes up to 1,200 meters.

Description –
Syagrus flexuosa is a monoecious, evergreen palm, with a tufted habit, rarely solitary.
The foliage has loose leaves, which against the light become a beautiful intense green.
The stems are more or less curved, 3-5 m high and 5-8 cm in diameter; these are covered in the younger part by the residues of the leaf bases; they are grayish in color and vertically cracked in the older part.
The leaves are pinnate, slightly arched; they are 1-1.2 m long, with 50-80 pairs of linear, rather rigid leaflets, arranged on the rachis in groups of 2-5 at various angles; the leaves are 30-35 cm long in the central part and 1-1.5 cm wide; they have an intense green color and with a leaf base, 30-50 cm long, with fibrous margins, which wraps around half the stem.
The flowers are grouped in inflorescences, borne on a 20-30 cm long peduncle; they form between the leaves and are 40-80 cm long, pale yellow in colour, initially enclosed in a woody spathe, with first-order ramifications and unisexual flowers arranged in triads (with the female flower between two male ones), except in the terminal part of the rachillae where only solitary or paired male flowers are present.
The male flowers have 3 sepals and 3 free petals and 6 stamens.
The female flowers have 3 sepals and 3 free petals, 6 staminodes and a trilocular ovate ovary.
The fruits have an ovoid or ellipsoidal shape, with a length of 3-4 cm and a diameter of 2-3 cm; they are yellowish green in color when ripe.
Inside there is a single ovoid seed 2-3 cm long and 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter.
The plant flowers and produces fruit all year round.

Cultivation –
Syagrus flexuosa is an evergreen palm whose edible fruits and seeds are sometimes collected from the wild for local use.
The plant is often grown as an ornamental.
This palm is widespread in the area of origin, but rarely present elsewhere.
It is a slow growing plant and sometimes looks rather messy. It can be cultivated in tropical, subtropical and marginally warm temperate climate regions, where it can tolerate temperatures down to around -3 °C for a short period.
For cultivation it requires full sun and draining soils, preferably acidic or neutral, it tolerates short periods of drought even if it grows faster if regularly irrigated in the presence of high temperatures.
Propagation occurs by seed. These must first be kept in water for 3 days, in a draining sowing substrate, kept humid at a temperature of 26-28 °C.
In these conditions germination times vary from 4 to 10 months.

Customs and Traditions –
Syagrus flexuosa is known by various common names in the areas where it grows naturally; among these we remember: acumã, acumão, ariri, coco-babão, coco-da-serra, coco-de-vaqueiro, coco-de-vassoura, coco-do-campo, coqueiro-do-campo, palmito-do-campo.
This plant is used both for food and for other purposes.
The fruits are edible but have a somewhat fibrous pulp; however they are much appreciated by the local fauna.
The leaves, however, have limited use in local crafts.
The plant is also cultivated for ornamental use due to its particularly disheveled appearance, especially in windy conditions, which however give it a particular characteristic also due to its intensely green colour, against the light.
On an ecological level it is a very important plant for the local fauna which finds refuge and food in this plant.
However, recent studies have found that biotic and abiotic factors are having a negative effect on the reproduction phase of this palm. This is an effect, called the “edge effect” which has an impact on the survival of seeds and seedlings.
In fact, large-seeded tree species, such as those of this palm, have often lost their seed transport vectors at the edges of the forest due to the rarity or absence of large frugivores in this type of habitat.
For this reason, the decline in the establishment of seedlings along the forest edges implies changes in the regeneration dynamics of the Cerrado, which can compromise the persistence of ecological processes and animal communities.

Preparation Method –
Syagrus flexuosa is a palm used for food purposes or for the use of other materials, such as leaves, especially by the local populations of the growth habitat.
Edible uses include fruits that are eaten raw. These have a fibrous, mucilaginous pulp, with a slightly sweet flavour.
Even the seed under certain conditions was eaten.
The leaves and wood are used for some products or uses.

Guido Bissanti

– 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.

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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.

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