An Eco-sustainable World
ArborealSpecies Plant

Euterpe edulis

Euterpe edulis

The assai palm or heart-of-palm tree, jussara palm (Euterpe edulis Mart. 1824) 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,
Euterpeae tribe,
Genus Euterpe,
Species E. edulis.
The terms are synonymous:
– Euterpe edulis var. clausa Mattos;
– Euterpe egusquizae Bertoni;
– Euterpe egusquizae Bertoni ex Hauman;
– Euterpe espiritosantensis H.Q.B.Fern..

Etymology –
The term Euterpe comes from the name of the Muse of music in Greek mythology, composed of the prefix “eu”, i.e. good and the verb “terpo”, i.e. delight, cheer, a name suitable for the elegance of this species, among the most beautiful of the family of palms.
The specific epithet edulis comes from the Latin “edulis”, i.e. edible, edible, in reference to the fruits and above all to the vegetative tips, the so-called “hearts of palm”.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Euterpe edulis is a palm native to an area that includes: Argentina (Misiones), Brazil (Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Federal District of Brasilia, Espírito Santo, Fernando de Noronha, Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul , Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Paraná, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, São Paulo, Sergipe and Trindade) and Paraguay.
Its natural habitat in these areas is that of the undergrowth of Atlantic coastal forests with high rainfall, at altitudes from sea level to 1,200 meters.

Description –
Euterpe edulis is a solitary, rarely tufted, defenseless monoecious palm.
The stem has a cylindrical section and is erect, with a length of up to about 20 m in height and 15 cm in diameter, of a greyish color on which the trace rings of the attachment of the fallen leaves 7-10 cm apart are visible, with a base slightly enlarged and a cone of reddish roots visible.
The leaves are carried by a petiole about 30 cm long, they are pinnate, up to 3 m long, with the leaf base that wraps entirely around the trunk for a height of about 1 m, forming a sort of dark green tubular capital, often suffused reddish orange. The pinnules, 70-80 in number per side and arranged close together along the rachis, are linear with a pointed apex, 60-90 cm long and 2-3 cm wide in the median area, hanging, of a shiny light green colour.
The inflorescences are branched, about 70 cm long, on a short peduncle, enclosed in the initial growth phase in a deciduous spathe, are arranged under the leaves and bear yellowish flowers of both sexes, arranged in the characteristic triad (a female flower in the middle with two male flowers), in pairs or only male in the terminal part.
The fruits are numerous; they are globose drupes of a blackish purple colour, 1-1.3 cm in diameter.
Inside there is a single globular seed; the seeds are highly sought after by wildlife, particularly birds and mammals, which contribute to the dispersal of the species.

Cultivation –
Euterpe edulis is a palm from which two very popular foods are obtained. The apical bud is often considered one of the best “hearts of palm” to eat. It has been widely collected from the wild for food, used locally and also sold for canning. The fruit has also become a very popular food, being widely sold throughout Brazil as a nutritious and healthy drink. This palm is often grown in Brazil for its shoots and fruits, and is also sometimes grown as an ornamental plant.
However, although it was once widely harvested in the wild in Brazil for hearts of palm, it is now rare in the wild and is no longer harvested commercially due to past overharvesting, which could cause it to become extinct in the near future. natural state.
It is one of the most ornamental and elegant palms with relatively fast growth, cultivable in tropical and humid subtropical climate regions. Cultivation can be attempted in milder warm temperate regions, where, as an adult, it can resist temperature values around 0 °C, provided they are exceptional and of very short duration. It requires exposure in full sun or light shade, particularly in the juvenile phase, and draining soils rich in organic substance, acidic, kept constantly humid. Of great landscape value as a single specimen or in groups of various heights in parks and gardens, it can also be cultivated in pots for the decoration of open spaces and bright interiors.
It is, however, a palm of humid tropical and subtropical climates, where it is found at altitudes from sea level up to about 1,200 meters. It grows areas where temperatures never drop below 10°C, the average annual rainfall is 1,500 mm or more and the driest month has 25 mm or more of rain.
It grows best in a warm, sheltered and humid place, and in well-drained soil. Young plants like filtered sunlight, but can take full sun when they start to grow tall.
From a pedological point of view it prefers a pH between 4.5 and 5, tolerating 4.1 – 5.6.
It is a fast growing plant.
Reproduction occurs by seed, which has short-term germination, previously cleaned of the pulp and kept in warm water for three days, in an aerated and draining substrate at a temperature of 24-26 °C with rather slow germination, 2-5 months or more ; the first leaflet is pinnate.
In nature, it is above all birds that contribute to the spread of the species.

Customs and Traditions –
Euterpe edulis is a palm known by various common names; among these are: assai palm, heart-of-palm tree, jussara palm (English); coco de palmito, palmito, palmita yeyhi (Argentina); açaí-do-sul, ensarova, içara, jiçara, inçara juçara, palmiteiro, palmito-juçara, palmito-doce, palmito-vermelho, ripa, ripira (Brazil); palmito, yayi (Paraguay).
This palm is used for the edible apical bud which, however, always leads to its death since the palm fails to form lateral branches and can therefore no longer grow. This has led to natural populations being put under pressure in some areas.
However, it is also cultivated for its fruits and hearts of palm, which are of excellent quality. Caligo brasiliensis larvae are said to feed on E. edulis.
In its natural habitat it is in danger of extinction, so its extraction is prohibited in many countries.
Above all, once upon a time the stem was used by local populations in construction and the leaves as covering and, even today, to make commonly used craft objects, but the most used and appreciated part is the vegetative apex and the most tender and internal part of the sheathed leaf bases (palmito), consumed raw or more frequently preserved, which has represented an almost exclusive food and source of income for many communities in the Atlantic Forest, but whose harvesting involves the death of the plant, and which has caused, for the indiscriminate cutting, its disappearance from many areas of origin, being able to obtain only 400-600 g of product from an adult plant of at least 8-12 years of age.
For this reason, the production of hearts of palm from Euterpe edulis in Brazil, which is the largest producer, consumer and exporter, is regulated by federal laws and now, in order to safeguard the species, Euterpe oleracea is partly used, whose appropriately planned cutting does not jeopardize its survival as it is tufted, and to cultivated plants of Bactris gasipes, but which provide a slightly lower quality product.
Among other uses, it should be noted that the fruit has the potential to be used to produce alcohol as a substitute for gasoline.
The wood is light, hard and long-lasting in dry sites. Although of low quality, it is used locally in the construction of rural buildings for construction purposes or as beams, for troughs, poles and as a source of cellulose.

Preparation Method –
Euterpe edulis is a palm used both for food, medicinal and ornamental purposes or for the use of its timber.
The tender leaves are eaten raw or cooked. They have a crunchy texture and a sweet flavor. They represent a tropical delicacy and can also be eaten raw in salads. It is a very popular dish, often called ‘millionaires’ salad’ due to its price.
For this purpose, the unexpanded leaves and crown bud of the plant are used.
Unfortunately, harvesting these leaves kills the plant because it is unable to produce lateral shoots.
The fruits are transformed into juice.
The fruit has a thin, fleshy, fibrous pulp and is processed into a high-calorie juice.
The fruit is also used to prepare a nutritious drink or ice cream.
In the medicinal field, the juice squeezed from the young stem is applied to wounds to stop bleeding.

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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