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Mauritia flexuosa L.f.

Family Name: Arecaceae (Palmae)
Common Name: Buriti, Aguaje

Mauritia flexuosa is a palm with cultural significance in South America. Bearing up to 800 scaly fruits per stalk, they are eaten fresh or made into desserts. Leaves and petioles are used to make ropes, baskets, hammocks, traditional dance masks and even roof thatching.

Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Fruit & Vegetable Palm

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Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Palm
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 25 m

Biogeography

Native Distribution South America
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Local Conservation Status Exotic

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a solitary palm, up to 25 m tall, with dark rings of leaf base scars.
Foliage There are 8 – 20 leaves. Each leaf is large (1-5 – 2.5 m long and 4.5 m wide) and fan-shaped with the midrib extending into the blade (costapalmate). It is circular in shape and deeply split in the middle where each half is divided into numerous narrow leaflets. The leaflets have small spines along the margin and they are folded in an upside-down V-shaped (reduplicate). Petiole is unarmed and up to 9 m long.
Flowers Inflorescence is up to 2 m long and occurs between the leaves. 25 – 40 shorter flowering branches (about 30 – 60 cm long) hanging pendulously and distichously from the main branch, like a curtain. These flowering branches bear small cream-coloured unisexual flowers. Individual plant bear either male or female flowers, but not both. Male flowers are borne in pairs while female flowers occur singly. Female flower is larger in size with the presence of stigma while male flower is smaller and has 6 stamens. Both male and female flowers have tubular calyx, 3 petals, shortly 3-lobed, and often densely covered in scales.
Fruits One infructescence can produce up to 800 fruits. Fruit is round to ellipsoid (5 cm diameter), fleshy and covered with reddish brown overlapping scales. Each fruit contains one seed which is surrounded with yellow-orange mesocarp. The seed has a blunt apical beak.
Habitat It is found growing along rivers, streams and in swamps, up to 900 m altitude.
Similar Mauritia species is similar to Mauritiella species. Mauritia species are generally solitary with unarmed stems, while Mauritiella species tend to be clustering with the presence of spiny stems. Mauritia flexuosa bears resemblance to Mauritia carana . Mauritia carana sheath has many fine fibres that blocks the leaf sheaths while Mauritia flexuosa sheath is clearly visible.
Cultivation Seeds germinate within 45 days if kept slightly moist and not dried out completely.
Etymology The genus Mauritia commemorates Johan Maurits, Count of Nassau-Siegen (1604-1679), who was governor of the Dutch colony in Brazil. Specific epithet flexuosa means flexible in Latin, referring to the pendulous leaf segments.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : In South America, the fruits are eaten fresh after removing the scales. The scales are removed by rubbing off after soaking in warm water. The fruit pulp is said to have similar texture as fresh baby carrots. In addition, it is rich in vitamins A and C, where the vitamin A content is reportedly three times as much as carrots. The fruit pulp can also be mixed with sugar and water to make juice, sorbets and other desserts. Locally celebrated festivals, such as Festival do Miriti, are held annually to celebrate the importance of the palm. )
Cultural / Religious ( In Brazil, the fibres of the young leaves or strips torn from the petioles are used for making ropes, baskets, hammocks and traditional dance masks. Indigenous people also used the leaves as roof thatching. In South America, oil is extract from the fruit pulp and used for cooking and soap-making. )

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water

References

References

Borchsenius, F., Borgtoft-Pedersen, H. and Baslev, H. 1998. Manual to the Palms of Ecuador. AAU Reports 37. Department of Systematic Botany, University of Aarhus, Denmark in collaboration with Pontificia Universidad Catalica del Ecuador. 

Henderson, A., G. Galeano, and R. Bernal. 1995. Field guide to the palms of the Americas. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Smith, N. (2015). Palms and People in the Amazon. In: Pedrotti, F. (ed) Geobotany Studies. Basics, Methods and Case Studies: 1–800. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. 


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Master ID 33384
Species ID 7798
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 20 August 2021.
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