what are palmitos?

13 05 2010

So, you are probably wondering, what is heart of palm (palmito as its known in portuguese)? Heart of palm is a vegetable commonly seen in salads (see picture). It is delicious, if you haven’t tried it, I recommend it.  The tree looks like a normal palm tree (pictures to come), but inside it houses the appetizing hearts of palm. The most common types of palmito – Palmito Juçara (Euterpe edulis) and Açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea) – are harvested from the Amazon and are usually not environmentally sustainable as its extraction kills the tree where it grows.

so why pupunha?

This project is utilizing a different type – palmito de pupunha – or Bactris gasipaes. This species of palm is native to tropical forests of south and Central America and has some different characteristics than the other types of heart of palm.

One of the most important characteristics is that the heart of palm can be harvested without killing the tree that hosts it. Also, since it can be planted, it allows farmers to sustainably grow it, without engaging in the traditional extractive manner which has caused environmental degradation.

Palmito de pupunha trees can live for many years! Research to date has shown that the plants continue producing hearts of palm over 30 years with minimum productivity loss and no harm to the ecosystem.

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One response

20 07 2010
Thiago Dal-Toe

Very nice explanation!!! I am quite familiar with pamito jucara, but did not know the pupunha, and let alone all the positive aspects of growing them. This is a great inititive 🙂

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