A rainforest palm reaching 80 ft (25 m), with 4–8 slender trunks and pinnate leaves up to 10 ft (3 m) long. The berries (about the size of a grape) hang down in large bunches.
Habitat & Cultivation
Found throughout much of Central America and northern South America, the acai palm is widely grown for its berries and palm hearts.
Drupe (the “berries”), seed, root, palm heart.
The berries contain high levels of polyphenols, especially anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins (as found in other dark purple berries, such as blueberry). They are strong antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
History & Folklore
Acai berries and their juice are a nutritious part of many Brazilians’ diet. In Brazil and Peru, the crushed seeds (which make up 80% of the berry) are used to treat fever. Traditionally, the essence of the root is extracted to treat conditions such as hepatitis and enlarged prostate.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Less a medicine than a nourishing addition to the diet, acai supports vitality and a healthy heart and circulation. Acai juice has much in common with blueberry and pomegranate (Punica granatum) juices—all helping to sustain good health. The Acai palm is the main source of palm hearts, which are eaten worldwide as a vegetable.