Distribution and habitat
It is native to the tropical rainforest and is abundant in the wet zones at elevations less than 1000m, from Panamá, Trinidad, and northern South America (Colombia, Venezuela, Guianas, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru). Two varieties are recognized:
- Oenocarpus bataua var. bataua - Panama and South America
- Oenocarpus bataua var. oligocarpus (Griseb. & H.Wendl.) A.J.Hend. - Trinidad, Venezuela, Guianas
It is usually found in sandy soils with a high organic matter content that are subsequent to flooding, possibly because there are few other species which compete with it. It can grow extremely well on unflooded soils as witnessed by high-density stands in the pastures of the Colombian Chocó, though it is rarely found on terra firma in the wild since competition from other species is such that it rarely gets the high light levels it needs to set fruit.
Its stem is solitary, erect, 10–25 m (33–82 ft) in height and 2–3 dm (8–12 in) diameter, smooth, and ring-shaped. It has 10–16 leaf terminals, petiole 10–50 cm, rachis 3–7 m long; with leaflets up till 2 m long and 15 cm breadth, approximately 100 to each side, placed in the same plane.
Patawa fruits are a resource for cosmetics, food and pharmaceuticals purposes.
Traditionally the aboriginals have collected the fruit and mature it in tepid water in order to prepare drinks and also to extract oil: its drupes, contains 8–10% oil. The fresh meolo is edible too. Besides, in these palm grow edible larvas of Rhynchophorus.
The oil is used by traditional medicine to mitigate cough and bronchitis and to fortify the hair.
The rachis have been used to manufacture arrows and the leaves to make baskets ant construct provisional housings.
In the future, this palm could be industrialized for oil production, because of its quality, its adaptation in poor soils, and its abundant production of fruits.
- Martius, Carl von. 1823. Historia Naturalis Palmarum II: 23. Lipsiae (Leipzig): T.O. Weigel.
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
- Vallejo Rendón, Darío 2002. "Oenocarpus bataua, seje"; Colombia Amazónica, separata especies promisorias 1. Corporación Colombiana para la Amazonia –Araracuara- COA.
- Galeano, Gloria 1991. Las palmas de la región del Araracuara. Bogotá: TOPEMBOS - Universidad Nacional. Segunda edición, 1992, p.p. 146-148.
- Amazonian palm Oenocarpus bataua (“patawa”): chemical and biological antioxidant activity - phytochemical composition. A. Rezaire, J.-C. Robinson, B. Bereau, A. Verbaere, N. Sommerer, M.K. Khan, P. Durand, E. Prost and B. Fils-Lycaon, Food Chemistry, In Press, Accepted Manuscript, doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.10.077
- La Rotta, Constanza 1990. Especies utilizadas por la Comunidad Miraña: 296-297. Bogotá: WWF - FEN.
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