Euterpe oleracea

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Euterpe oleracea
Stock of açaí palm trees in the delta of the Amazon River

Stock of açaí palm trees in the delta of the Amazon River

Order : Palm- like arecales
Family : Palm family (Arecaceae)
Subfamily : Arecoideae
Tribe : Udder peae
Genre : Euterpe
Type : Euterpe oleracea
Scientific name
Euterpe oleracea

Euterpe oleracea in English among other species also, Acai called, is a South American plant species from the family of the palm family (Arecaceae). In Brazil in particular, the fruits and palm hearts are used as food. Here the palm is called açaizeiro , the fruit açaí ([ aˌsaˈi ] pronunciation ? / I ). In German-speaking countries, the fruit is marketed under the name Acai berry . Audio file / audio sample


Euterpe oleracea is a multi-stemmed palm with up to 45 trunks that can reach heights of over 25 m with a diameter of 7 to 18 cm. They are mostly gray from lichen growth, at the base there is a cone of red adventitious roots . The species also forms pneumatophores (aerial roots).

The crown consists of 8 to 14 arched leaves . The leaf sheath is 0.6 to 1.5 m long, dark brown, purple, green, red-green or yellow-green and has a few brown scales, especially on the short ligule . The petiole is 17 to 50 cm long, the rachis 1.5 to 3.7 m. On each side there are 40 to 80 leaflets, which are mostly drooping, rarely sticking out horizontally. The midrib is clearly pronounced, there are also two to three lateral veins. The lowest leaflet is 40 to 74 cm long, the middle 0.6 to 1.1 m, the apical 24 to 50 cm.

The inflorescence is usually horizontal between the leaves and when the flowers bloom. The inflorescence stalk is 5 to 15 cm long, the cover sheet 43 to 66 cm. The bract on the peduncle is 66 to 95 cm long and 11 to 14 cm wide. The inflorescence axis is 35 to 68 cm long and densely covered with whitish-brown, branched hair. There are 80 to 162 side branches that are 21 to 75 cm long and covered with short, pressed whitish-brown hairs. The flowers are in triads.

Cabbage palms on the banks of the Rio Capim in São Domingos do Capim

The male flowers are 4 to 5 mm long. The sepals are triangular to oval, 2 to 3.5 mm long and ciliate. The petals are oval 3 to 4 mm long and purple to purple-red. The stamens are attached to a short receptacle. The stamens are 1.5 to 4 mm long, the anthers 2 to 2.5 mm. The rudiment of the stamp is 2 to 3 mm long and has three lobes at the tip. The female flowers are 3 mm long, their sepals 2 mm long, broadly triangular and ciliate, the petals broadly triangular and 2 to 3 mm long.

The shiny stone fruits are spherical with 1 to 2 cm in diameter. The remnant of the scar is on the side. The exocarp is purple-black, black or green and almost smooth to very finely textured. The brown seeds are spherical, the endosperm is deeply furrowed. The primary sheet is in two parts.


The species occurs from Panama to Brazil : Panama (San Blas), the Pacific coast of northern Ecuador (Esmeraldas, Pichincha) and Colombia (Cauca, Chocó, Córdoba, Narino, Valle, Vichada), Trinidad , Venezuela (Bolivár, Delta Amacuro , Sucre), Guyana , Suriname , French Guiana and Brazil ( Amapá , Maranhão , Pará , Tocantins ). It grows in large stocks in low-lying areas, influenced by the tides, near the sea and in moist locations near rivers. It rarely grows further inland, then always in wet locations near the river.

In the eastern Amazon Basin replaced Euterpe oleracea the Euterpe precatoria . Both species can be found in the coastal region of Colombia and in the rainforests of Peru and Ecuador, so they occur sympatric . However, Euterpe oleracea always grows here in flooded locations, while Euterpe precatoria always grows in non-flooded locations.

Euterpe oleracea can colonize disturbed, swampy locations very aggressively. However, the natural sites are endangered by rice cultivation and shrimp farms.


Euterpe oleracea is an economically important species in its entire range, as both the fruits and the palm hearts are edible. In Belém the fruits make an important contribution to the nutrition of the population and in the areas of the lower reaches of the Amazon populated by Caboclos the palm is even described as a staple food. The fleshy mesocarp of the fruit is mixed with water and made into a drink, as well as sorbet . The taste of the berries is u. a. described as greasy, earthy, nutty, and astringent .

In Europe, the fruit is usually available as a freeze-dried powder. The fruit can also be found in energy drinks. 100 g of this powder contains 534 kilocalories, 52.2 g carbohydrates, 8.1 g protein and 32.5 g fat. The carbohydrate content contains 44.2 g of fiber and a low proportion of mono- and disaccharides . Other ingredients include vitamins C and A , calcium and iron , as well as aspartate and glutamate . The fat content can be divided into 56.2% oleic acid , 24% palmitic acid and 12.5% linolenic acid . Açaí also contains β-sitosterol .

Since the strong decimation of Euterpe edulis , which is still used today for the extraction of palm hearts, Euterpe oleracea is the most important species for the extraction of palm hearts. In 1988 the processing and sale of palm hearts resulted in sales of US $ 120 million. In addition to Brazil, there are palm heart canning factories on the Pacific coast of Colombia and Ecuador. Since the palm trees are multi-stemmed, they do not die when the palm hearts are extracted.

Since 2005 the fruit has been marketed as a so-called superfood in the US and Europe, in German-speaking countries under the name "Acai berry" . The content of antioxidants , vitamins and minerals is very high, but not higher than in many other well-known fruits such as blueberries . The promised effects, from weight loss to sexual stimulation, have not been scientifically proven. Since the sensitive berries cannot survive the transport to Europe, the açaí products, which are sold as superfoods in Germany, are only available as powder, juice or puree.

The consumption of non-heat-treated açai berries or their pulp is a common cause of infections with Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease . In Brazil, 100 to 150 cases of Chagas disease are caused by contaminated food each year. During the dry season between July and December, there are also more chagas falls due to açaí berries. The droppings of predatory bugs are found on the berries and are eaten along with the pathogen. Permanent forms of T. cruzi survive on the plants for a long time in the faeces. In neighboring countries of Brazil, eating palm hearts has also resulted in Chagas infections.

Heating the berries or their pulp to over 43 ° C for 20 minutes is a safe and practicable method to prevent food- borne Chagas disease caused by Trypanosoma cruzei .

In addition to its use as food, the palm is also used commercially in other ways. The leaves are made into hats, mats, baskets and brooms and the wood is used as building material. Açaí oil can be obtained from the berries .

Web links

Commons : Euterpe oleracea  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  • Andrew Henderson, Gloria Galeano: Euterpe, Prestoea, and Neonicholsonia (Palmae: Euterpeinae). Flora Neotropica, Volume 72, New York Botanical Garden Press, New York 1996, pp. 1-90. JSTOR 4393873 .

Individual evidence

  1. Assaí - Description and phenology - Euterpe oleracea on
  2. Rui Murrieta, Darna L. Dufour, Andrea Siqueira: Food Consumption and Subsistence in Three Caboclo Populations on Marajó Island, Amazonia, Brazil. In:  Human Ecology. 27 (3), 1999, pp. 455-475 ( Memento from April 11, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF, 2.55 MB), doi : 10.1023 / A: 1018779624490 .
  3. ^ A b Andrew Henderson, Gloria Galeano.
  4. Food supplements - a product overview from AZ. Consumer advice center , October 27, 2015, accessed on July 27, 2016 .
  5. Alexander G. Schauss, Xianli Wu. a .: Phytochemical and Nutrient Composition of the Freeze-Dried Amazonian Palm Berry, Euterpe oleraceae Mart. (Acai) (PDF; 71 kB), In: J. Agric. Food Chem. 54, 2006, pp. 8598-8603, doi : 10.1021 / jf060976g .
  6. Catherine Ulbricht, Ashley Brigham et al: An Evidence-Based Systematic Review of Acai (Euterpe oleracea) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ] In:  Journal of Dietary Supplements. 9 (2), 2012, pp. 128-47, doi : 10.3109 / 19390211.2012.686347 .
  7. SRS Cardoso, NB Eloy et al. a .: Genetic differentiation of Euterpe edulis Mart. populations estimated by AFLP analysis (PDF; 565 kB), In: Molecular Ecology. 9, 2000, pp. 1753-1760, PMID 11091311 .
  8. a b c Consumers Warned of Web-Based Açai Scams Center for Science in the Public Interest, March 23, 2009, accessed November 29, 2009.
  9. Brazilian Acai Berry Antioxidants Absorbed By Human Body on October 17, 2008, accessed November 29, 2009.
  10. What are acai berries, and what are their possible health benefits? on Mayo Clinic on May 23, 2008, accessed November 29, 2009.
  11. Barbosa RL, Dias VL, Pereira KS, Schmidt FL, Franco RM, Guaraldo AM, Alves DP, Passos LA (2012): Survival In Vitro and Virulence of Trypanosoma cruzi in Açaí Pulp in Experimental Acute Chagas Disease. Journal of Food Protection, 75 (3), pp. 601-606.
  12. Barbosa RL, Pereira KS, Dias VL, Schmidt FL, Alves DP, Guaraldo AM, Passos LA. (2016): Virulence of Trypanosoma cruzi in Açai (Euterpe oleraceae Martius) Pulp following Mild Heat Treatment. Journal of Food Protection, 79 (10), pp. 1807-1812.
  13. ^ Mattos EC, Meira-Strejevitch CDS, Marciano MAM, Faccini CC, Lourenço AM, Pereira-Chioccola VL. (2017): Molecular detection of Trypanosoma cruzi in acai pulp and sugarcane juice. Acta Tropica, 176, pp. 311-315.
  14. ^ S. Silva & H. Tassara: Fruit Brazil Fruit. Empresa das Artes, São Paulo, Brazil 2005, ISBN 978-85-891-3825-3 .