Palms of the Atlantic Rainforest
The Atlantic Rainforest contains many species of palm. Many of these are of high environmental, social and economic importance.
Euterpe edulis (Heart-of-Palm) is found across large areas of south-east Brazil, Equador, Argentina and Paraguay. They grow as slim, solitary palms, roughly 8m high.
Hearts-of-Palm is eaten, usually steamed, as a highly prized delicacy. Their over collection, however, is causing dramatic population reductions in some areas, the problem being intensified by the fact that trees are single stemmed and can take ten years to reach maturity. This is having negative impacts on the animals which eat their cherry-like berries.
Euterpe oleracea (Assai Palm) is widely cultivated for its round, purple/black berries, which are valued by Brazilians and the indigenous Guaraní people as a juice and in wine. The juice is often served ice cold, usually with sugar and tapioca flour. They are tall, multi-stemmed palms and can grow to 15-30m tall.
Syagrus romanzoffianum (Pindo Palm) is one of the most useful plants to the Guaraní indigenous people.