Acrocomia aculeata

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Acrocomia aculeata
Acrocomia totai.jpeg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Subfamily: Arecoideae
Tribe: Cocoseae
Genus: Acrocomia
Species: A. aculeata
Binomial name
Acrocomia aculeata
(Jacq.) Lodd. ex Mart.[1]

Acrocomia aculeata is a species of palm native to tropical regions of the Americas, from southern Mexico and the Caribbean south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Common names include Grugru Palm, Macaúba Palm, Coyol Palm, and Macaw Palm; synonyms include A. lasiospatha, A. sclerocarpa, A. totai, and A. vinifera.

Description[edit]

Fruit of Acrocomia aculeata
Composition of fruit by layers

It grows up to 15-20 m tall, with a trunk up to 50 cm in diameter, characterized by numerous slender, black, viciously sharp 10 cm long spines jutting out from the trunk. The leaves are pinnate, 3-4 m long, with numerous slender, 50-100 cm long leaflets. Petioles of the leaves are also covered with spines. The flowers are small, produced on a large branched inflorescence 1.5 m long. The fruit is a yellowish-green drupe 2.5-5 cm in diameter. The inner fruit shell, also called endocarp, is very tough to break and contains usually one single, dark brown, nut-like seed 1-2 cm in diameter. The inside of the seed, also called endosperm, is a dry white filling that has a vaguely sweet taste like coconut when eaten.

Ecology[edit]

The tree was noted by the English naturalist Henry Walter Bates in his 1863 book The Naturalist on the River Amazons, where he wrote that

[The Hyacinthine Macaw] flies in pairs, and feeds on the hard nuts of several palms, but especially of the Mucuja (Acrocomia lasiospatha). These nuts, which are so hard as to be difficult to break with a heavy hammer, are crushed to a pulp by the powerful beak of this macaw.

—Bates[2]

Uses[edit]

The plants inhabit a wide variety of climates and situations; in Paraguay, for example, where it is ubiquitous, it is called the coco paraguayo (Paraguayan coconut), as it is much less common in the rest of the world. It has been suggested that grugru nuts, which come in mass numbers from each tree, can be used in the manufacture of biodiesel. The grugru nut, while very hard, can be sliced into thin circles to be sanded and worn as rings. The trunk of the palm can also be 'milked' to yield a fermented alcoholic beverage known as coyol wine.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Martius, Historia Naturalis Palmarum 2:66. 1824
  2. ^ Bates, H. W. (1864). The naturalist on the River Amazons. London: J. Murray. Pages 79–80. (1st (long) ed. 1863

External links[edit]