Mauritia flexuosa

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moriche palm
Palma canangucha
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Mauritia
Species: M. flexuosa
Binomial name
Mauritia flexuosa
  • Mauritia flexuosa var. venezuelana Steyerm.
  • Mauritia minor Burret
  • Mauritia sagus Schult. & Schult.f.
  • Mauritia setigera Griseb. & H.Wendl.
  • Mauritia sphaerocarpa Burret
  • Mauritia vinifera Mart.
  • Saguerus americanus H.Wendl.

Mauritia flexuosa, known as the moriche palm, ité palm, ita, buriti, muriti, canangucho (Colombia), or aguaje (Peru), is a palm tree. It grows in and near swamps and other wet areas in tropical South America. It has been reported from Trinidad, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guinea, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.[2]

Mauritia flexuosa is a tree which can reach up to 35 m (115 ft) in height. The large leaves form a rounded crown. The flowers are yellowish and appear from December to April. The fruit, which grows from December to June, is a chestnut color and is covered with shiny scales. The yellow flesh covers a hard, oval, nut. The seeds float, and this is the means by which the palm tree propagates. In natural populations the tree reaches very high densities.[3]


Moriche palm fruit is edible, has a high vitamin C content,[citation needed] and used to make juice, jam, ice cream, and a fermented "wine". The inflorescence buds are eaten as a vegetable and the sap can be drunk fresh or fermented (see palm wine). Threads and cords are locally produced from the tree's fibers.


Mauritia flexuosa virgin oil

Buriti oil is an orange-reddish oil extracted from the fruit of the moriche palm. The oil contains high concentrations of oleic acid, tocopherols and carotenoids, especially beta-carotene.[4] The oil has a reddish color used as ink on hides and skins.[5]


This tree is important to many animal species; several bird species, such as the red-bellied macaw, sulphury flycatcher and moriche oriole, use it for nesting and food. Many ungulates, fish and monkeys depend on the fruit.[6]


The government of the Federal District - the Brazilian state where the country's capital, Brasília, is located - is called Palácio do Buriti ("Buriti Palace"). Across the street from the building there is a square with fountains and a single moriche palm tree, which was taken from the outskirts of the city and replanted there. The species is a common feature of the cerrado vegetation that predominates in central Brazil.[citation needed]


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