Oenocarpus bataua

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Oenocarpus bataua
Oenocarpus bataua.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Tribe: Areceae
Subtribe: Euterpeinae
Genus: Oenocarpus
Species: O. bataua
Binomial name
Oenocarpus bataua
Mart. 1823[1]
  • Jessenia bataua (Mart.) Burret (1929)
  • Oenocarpus batawa Wallace (1853), spelling variation
  • Jessenia polycarpa H.Karst. (1857)
  • Jessenia oligocarpa Griseb. & H.Wendl. ex Griseb. (1864)
  • Jessenia repanda Engl. (1865)
  • Jessenia weberbaueri Burret (1929)
  • Jessenia oligocarpa Griseb. & H.Wendl. (1864)
  • Oenocarpus oligocarpus (Griseb. & H.Wendl.) Wess.Boer (1965)

The patawa, sehe, hungurahua (Ecuador) or mingucha (Oenocarpus bataua or Jessenia bataua) is a palm tree native to the Amazonia, that produces edible fruits rich in high quality oil.[3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

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).[2] Two varieties are recognized:

  1. Oenocarpus bataua var. bataua - Panama and South America
  2. 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.[4]


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.[4]

The blossom is 1–2 m long, with about 300 rachilas up till 1.3 m length. The flowers are yellow with sepals 2 mm and petals 7 mm long.[4]


Patawa fruits are a resource for cosmetics, food and pharmaceuticals purposes.[5]

Traditionally the aboriginals have collected the fruit and mature it in tepid water in order to prepare drinks and also to extract oil:[4] its drupes, contains 8–10% oil. The fresh meolo is edible too. Besides, in these palm grow edible larvas of Rhynchophorus.[6]

Oil Pataua
          • Unrefined Ungurahua oil has been used for centuries by amazonian people tribes and is considered the best remedy for treating scalp problems, since itchy, dandruff and hair loss due to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It stimulates and regenerates follicle cells controlling scalp disorders caused by bacterial infections, increasing circulation and capillary strength.
          • Unrefined Ungurahua oil can be applied directly to the scalp as a herbal treatments for scalp disorders, for revitalizing the hair recovering and boosting shine, increasing hair strengthen and controlling the frizziest hair as well as improving the health of hair and scalp, strengthening the hair follicles and preventing hair loss.
            • Added to hair formulations helps to revitalize the roots, helps to heal scalp disorders, control loss, bringing moisture, malleability and shine as well as detangling strands, controlling frizz and defining curls.

Patauá or Seje oil[edit]

Traditionally, patauá oil is used by Amazonian communities in fried foods, and as a tonic for the treatment of hair loss.[7] The oil is good for many health problems in the body and acts as a laxative, remedy for tuberculosis, asthma and other respiratory problems. It is also used in cosmetic production because it can be used as a tonic to soften the hair. A famous researcher who lived in a village Kayapó said that the Indians were the most beautiful, nourished and healthy in patauazeiro the fruiting season.[8]

The oil is used by traditional medicine to mitigate cough and bronchitis[3] and to fortify the hair.

The rachis have been used to manufacture arrows and the leaves to make baskets ant construct provisional housings.[4]

In the future, this palm could be industrialized for oil production,[3] because of its quality, its adaptation in poor soils, and its abundant production of fruits.

Chemical and physical data of the Oenocarpus bataua oil
Index Units Pataua OLIVA
Refractive index (40 °C) - 1.459 to 1.469 1.68 to 1.471
Iodine Index gl2 70-83 78-90
Saponification Index mg KOH \ g 190-210 187-196
Density (20 °C) g \ ltr 0.905 to 0.918 0.914 to 0.919
Melting 16 14 °C
Fatty acids Unit Oenocarpus bataua olive
Palmitic acid 6-15% weight 7-16
Acid Palmitoleic % weight <2 <1
Stearic acid % weight 2-9 <2
Oleic Acid% w 68-83 55-83
Linoleic acid % weight 2-9 11-20
Linolenic acid % weight <5 <4
Saturated 16%
Unsaturated 84%


  1. ^ Martius, Carl von. 1823. Historia Naturalis Palmarum II: 23. Lipsiae (Leipzig): T.O. Weigel.
  2. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ a b c Vallejo Rendón, Darío 2002. "Oenocarpus bataua, seje"; Colombia Amazónica, separata especies promisorias 1. Corporación Colombiana para la Amazonia –Araracuara- COA.
  4. ^ a b c d e Galeano, Gloria 1991. Las palmas de la región del Araracuara. Bogotá: TOPEMBOS - Universidad Nacional. Segunda edición, 1992, p.p. 146-148.
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ La Rotta, Constanza 1990. Especies utilizadas por la Comunidad Miraña: 296-297. Bogotá: WWF - FEN.
  7. ^ Pataua OIL. http://www.amazonoil.com.br/produtos/oleos/pataua.htm
  8. ^ Pataua. http://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/Books/BShanley1001/203_208.pdf

External links[edit]