The babassü oil palm of Brazil


The Western Hemisphere has an estimated 1,250 species of indigenous palms, of which about 500 are found in Brazil (1). Many of these palms produce fruits with oil-rich pulps and/or seeds (kernels) and have been exploited from Mexico to Argentina since pre-Columbian times. Occasionally, one or another of these oils or their seeds has entered international trade and many of them have contributed to the fat and oil economies of the nations of origin, particularly Mexico, several countries of Central America, Brazil, and Paraguay. Except for small quantities of mbocay~ (Paraguayan coco) oil exported to Argentina and irregular quantities of babassfl oil from Brazil, all have practically disappeared from foreign commerce. Several are, however, still important items in the domestic economy of the countries to which they are indigenous, principally Brazil and to a lesser extent in Paraguay, Mexico, and Guatemala. Many of the American palm kernel oils are similar in composition and scarcely distinguishable from each other and from other palm kernel oils of the Old World. Most belong to the lauric-acid class of oils; hence their uses are similar. In general, except for small quantities consumed locally, per se or mixed with other oils for edible purposes, their primary use is in the manufacture of soap and allied products. Many indigenous palms contributed to the primitive economy of what is now Brazil long before the appearance of Europeans in the Western Hemisphere. They provided the original inhabitants with fibers, oils, waxes, foodstuffs, materials for shelters, baskets, mats, ropes, and a host of other products. In some places in Brazil, they still serve these purposes. During the present century, a number of these palms be-

DOI: 10.1007/BF02860764

Cite this paper

@article{Markley2008TheBO, title={The babass{\"{u} oil palm of Brazil}, author={Klare S. Markley}, journal={Economic Botany}, year={2008}, volume={25}, pages={267-304} }