POTENTIAL EDIBLE NUTS 4


There are a number of species producing edible nuts that are relatively little known and appear to have a potential for development. From past experience, an in-depth investigation of a species requires a minimum of one month's work spread over several months in order to allow time for exchange of correspondence, obtain obscure literature references, etc.; laboratory investigations are not included in this estimate (Lucas and Wickens, 1988). The discussion that follows on potential nut species will therefore be confined to the limited literature available and bearing in mind that the primary sources have not been consulted.

The Bambara and Hausa groundnuts, Macrotyloma geocarpum and Vigna subterranea, although being classified with the groundnut, Arachis hypogea, as nut-bearing plants are not further considered here since they are regarded as agricultural crops and their development lies with agronomists and not silviculturalists. However, they are entered in Appendix A.

The trees and shrubs bearing edible nuts listed below are provisionally considered worthy of further investigation. The selection is somewhat arbitrary and is initially based on the available data presented in Appendix A. Doubtless further investigation could reveal additional and possibly more suitable species.
 

marula or maroela Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra, Anacardiaceae
Guyana or Malabar chestnuts or saba nuts  Pachira aquatica, Bombacaceae
Java almond, kanari or galip nut Canarium indicum, Burseraceae
pequí; piquí or piquia-oil plant Caryocar brasiliense, Caryocaraceae
castanha de galinha Couepia longipedula, Chrysobalanaceae
Indian or tropical almond Terminalia catappa, Combretaceae
okari nut Terminalia kaernbachii, Combretaceae
cacay, inchi, tacay, taccy, nogal, etc., nuts Caryodendron orinocense, Euphorbiaceae
cream, paradise or sapucaia nut Lecythis pisonis, Lecythidaceae
yicib, ye-eb or yeheb Cordeauxia edulis, Leguminosae 
tara Lemuropisum edule, Leguminosae
galo or promising nut Anacolosa frutescens, Olacaceae:
avellano or Chilean nut or hazel Gevuina avellana, Proteaceae
quandong or native peach Santalum acuminata, Santalaceae
argan Argania spinosa, Sapotaceae:
shea butter tree Vitellaria paradoxa, Sapotaceae
bitter cola, kola nut Cola nitida, Sterculiaceae
sugar plum, areng palm, ejow, gomuti, kaong Arenga pinnata, Palmae
tucumá Astrocaryum vulgare, Palmae
peach plum, palm chestnuts, pupunha, etc. Bactris gasipaes, Palmae
babassu, babacu palm or aguassú Orbignya phalerata, Palmae

Marula or maroela: Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra, Anacardiaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Angola, Zaire and Kenya to Namibia, Transvaal and Natal, also in Madagascar. Mixed deciduous woodland and wooded grassland (Kokwaro, 1986).
 

Description


Dioecious, deciduous tree to 18 m. Leaves alternate, imparipinnate, leaflets 7-13(-17). Inflorescence appearing before the leaves. Fruit an obovoid drupe 3.5 cm long, 3-3.5 cm in diameter, yellow, with strong odour when ripe; mesocarp very juicy; stone obovoid, 2-3 cm long, 2.5 cm in diameter, hard; seeds (1-)3(-4), 1.5-2 cm long, 0.4-0.8 cm wide (Arnold et al., 1985; Kokwaro, 1986).
 

Cultivation


Seeds soaked overnight prior to sowing. Propagated by seedlings and cuttings, gregarious root suckering (von Maydell, 1986 re subsp. birrea). Trees set fruit after 3 years in Israel (Cherfas, 1989).
 

Harvesting


A single female tree can yield 2 100-9 100 fruits in a season, fruits falling while still green and ripening on the ground (Arnold et al., 1985).
 

Post-harvest treatments


Fruits cannot be stored for more than a week, they bruise easily and therefore are difficult to transport. The Venda mix the kernels with lean meat, shape into cakes and dry for storage (FAO, 1988).
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Fruit skin is hard and bitter, flesh has a turpentine-mango flavour although flavour is reported to vary from tree to tree, some sweet, some dry, others aromatic; flesh is eaten fresh or dry, made into jams and jellies; it is source of an alcoholic beverage, also non-alcoholic fruit juices; the juice sometimes thick and grainy, others more liquid depending on the fruit; the juice is often source of 80% of the vitamin C in the local diet; kernels difficult to extract, with hazel-like flavour, eaten; seed oil expressed and used by the Venda to preserve meat for up to a year; fermented fruit liked by elephants (Menninger, 1977; Arnold et al. 1985; Cherfas, 1989).

Subsp. birrea from northern tropical Africa bears fruits which are similarly utilized. Unripe kernels reported to be milky and have flavour of groundnuts (Menninger, 1977).
 

Nutritional value


Kernels are highly nutritious, with 28.3% protein, 57.3% oil, high in minerals, especially magnesium, iron, copper, zinc and phosphorus, with 462, 4.87, 2.81, 5.19 and 808 mg per 100 g respectively and an energy value of 2 703 kJ per 100 g (Arnold et al., 1985).
 

By-products and other uses


Timber is soft, coarse grained, not very durable, used for pestles and mortars, bowls, furniture, saddles and carvings; bark is a source of fibre, gum exudate is mixed with soot for a black ink. The species is grown for shade and as an ornamental tree (FAO, 1988).
 

Marketing


Sold in the local markets.
 

Discussion


A high-yielding tree with nutritious fruit, but the small kernel and the difficult extraction from the stone make it an unlikely commercial proposition as far as the kernels are concerned, although worthy of development for its fleshy fruits.
 

Guyana or malabar chestnut or saba nut: Pachira aquatica, Bombacaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Probably originated in the Amazon estuary, now widely distributed through the whole of northern South America and the Antilles, either naturally or by man; widely cultivated in the tropics. Occurs naturally on sparsely vegetated, marshy riverine, clay soils; also grows well on sandy or sandy-clay soils of terra firma. Flowering and fruiting throughout the year. Drought resistant, it tolerates a wide range of temperatures and humidity (Menninger, 1977; FAO, 1986).
 

Description


Evergreen tree up to 10(-23) m tall, trunk 25-60 (-90) cm in diameter. Leaves pedately palmate, clustered towards the ends of branches. Flowers bisexual, solitary or 2-3, terminal. Fruit an oblong-ellipsoid capsule, 12-30 cm long, 10-20 cm in diameter, woody, 5-valved, dehiscent; pericarp rather thick, spongy and fibrous; seeds 10-25, globular, 1.2-3 cm in diameter (Menninger, 1977; FAO, 1986).
 

Cultivation


Grown from seed, with germination in 6-8 days with rapid initial growth; also grows readily from truncheons. First flowers produced in 4-5 years. Flowering and fruiting throughout the year (FAO, 1986; Arkoll and Clement, 1989).

Harvesting

Nuts may be left on the ground to dry in the sun but must be protected from showers as they sprout readily (Menninger, 1977).
 

Post-harvest treatments


No information.
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Only the seeds are edible, chestnut-flavoured; eaten raw, roasted or fried in oil; after roasting, seeds taste like cocoa and are sometimes used for the preparation of beverages. Regarded as a useful supplement to the diet in many regions. Seeds yield 58% of a white, inodorous fat which, when refined, is suitable for cooking (Kedrick, 1972; Menninger, 1977; Burkill, 1985; FAO, 1986; Mabberley, 1987; Arkoll and Clement, 1989).
 

Nutritional value


Seed contains 9% water, 10% starch, 16% protein and 40-50% fat; the yellow fat possesses physical and chemical characteristics resembling those of palm oil but containing toxic and possibly carcinogenic cyclopropenic fatty acids (Burkill, 1985; Arkoll and Clement, 1989).
 

By-products and other uses


Seed oil with industrial potential for manufacturing soap. Young leaves and flowers are eaten as a vegetable. Wood is white and soft, suitable for manufacturing paper, yielding 36% cellulose paste. Bark is used for caulking boats and cordage and yields a dark red dye. Bark is also used medicinally to treat stomach complaints and headaches while a tisane from the boiled bark is used for blood tonic. Suitable for live fence posts and street trees, it is also planted as an ornamental species (Hedrick, 1972; FAO, 1986; Arkoll and Clement, 1989; Barrett, 1994).
 

Marketing


No information, presumably traded locally.
 

Discussion


A potentially useful, easily cultivated tree producing big fruits containing large quantities of nuts. However, toxicological studies will be required before this species can be recommended for wider distribution and use. Indeed, such studies are required for all new food plants.
 

Java almond; kanari or ngali nut: Canarium indicum, Burseraceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and surrounding islands; often cultivated in Melanesia and elsewhere in the tropics, especially Java. Naturally found in low altitude rain forests, but cultivated up to 600 m (Howes, 1948; Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Description


Tall, buttressed, deciduous tree to 40 m tall. Leaves with 3-7 pairs of leaflets, leaflets oblong-ovate to oblong-lanceolate, 5.5-28 cm x 2-11 cm, herbaceous to coriaceous, base oblique to broadly cuneate, apex bluntly acuminate. Inflorescence terminal, laxly paniculate. Drupe ovoid, slightly triangular in cross section, 3-6 cm x 2-3 cm, green, turning black when ripe; endocarp hard, thin and brittle, ca. 3 g, seeds 3 or 1 by abortion in cultivated trees. (Howes, 1948; Leenhouts, 1956; Verheij and Coronel, 1991; Macrae et al., 1993).
 

Cultivation


Propagated by seed. Asexual reproduction by patch-budding, as recommended for C. ovatum should also be tried (see under Minor nuts).
 

Harvesting


In Moluccas leaves shed when fruit ripe and bunches of fruit then clearly visible. Trees climbed and fruit beaten down with sticks (Howes, 1948).
 

Post-harvest treatments


Treatment presumed to be as described for C. ovatum (see under Minor nuts). Pulp is removed by hand after soaking in water for 2-3 days, less if water heated to 40-50° C. Nuts are thoroughly washed, any floating nuts are discarded. Nuts are sun-dried and bagged for storage. Kernels are extracted by hand, washed in warm water to loosen the testa before removal by hand.
 

Production and consumption/utilization


After removal of testa the oily "pili" nuts (seeds) eaten raw or roasted, may be used as an almond substitute, eaten in Sri Lanka as a dessert nut, made into bread in the Celebes, highly esteemed in Melanesia where several races are cultivated; a strained emulsion of crushed, well-ripened seeds may be used as milk substitute for infants. Seed oil is used as a substitute for and usually preferred to coconut oil for cooking; fresh seed oil mixed with food (Howes, 1948; Leenhauts, 1956; Hedrick, 1972; Menninger, 1977; Verheij and Coronel, 1991; Macrae et al., 1993).
 

Nutritional value


Nut contains 70-80% oil, 13% protein, 7% starch (Howes, 1948; Macrae et al., 1993).
 

By-products and other uses


Shells are used for carvings. Seed oil also used as an illuminant. Wood is soft, mainly used for firewood, also for canoes. Grown as a shade tree, especially for nutmeg groves, roadside or street tree (Howes, 1948; Leenhauts, 1956; Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Marketing


Nuts do not keep well, consequently not suitable as an export crop.
 

Discussion


Highly esteemed for food in Melanesia (Verheij and Coronel, 1991). If the nut production is to be expanded in Southeast Asia, there is a need to develop mechanization for nut extraction in addition to selecting elite trees.
 

Pequí, piquí, piquia-oil plant: Caryocar brasiliense, Caryocaraceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Brazil, extending westwards from the state of Maranhão to Bolivia, eastern Paraguay to northern Argentina, it forms pure groves in the plateaux and valleys of the cerrado, elsewhere usually scattered individuals. Adapted to nutrient poor, heavy clays, especially iron and aluminium rich soils in areas with an annual rainfall of 1 000-1 500 mm and 3-5 months dry season with a relative humidity as low as 13% (FAO, 1986; Dantas de Araujo, 1995).
 

Description


A twisted, small tree or shrub or suffrutex to ca. 10 m tall, trunk ca. 30 cm in diameter and a deep taproot; crown spreading, to 10 m in diameter. Leaves 3-foliate, leaflets elliptic-ovate, up to 18 cm x 12 cm, apex and base rounded. Inflorescence a terminal raceme. Fruit irregularly ovoid-globose, 4-5 cm in diameter, usually 1-locular, 4-5 cm in diameter, occasionally 2-locular and larger; exocarp more or less smooth; pericarp thick, fleshy and ± attached to the mesocarp, the mesocarp and endocarp enveloping the seed to form an oval stone ca. 2.5-3 cm in diameter; mesocarp surface smooth, interior with thin, hard, woody, endocarp spines up to 2–3 cm long; kernel white, oily (FAO, 1986; Dantas de Araujo, 1995).
 

Cultivation


Seeds may take one year to germinate; stratification of the endocarp with mesocarp removed is recommended. Good results obtained from grafting and marcottage. Irrigation in the nursery essential. Seedlings can be planted out when 25 cm tall. Growth is slow but the trees show good response from irrigation and fertilizers. After 5 years non-irrigated plants are 25 cm tall while irrigated plants may attain 3 m (FAO, 1986; Dantas de Araujo, 1995).
 

Harvesting


Despite their accessibility, the difficulty in determining the ripeness of the fruit results in fallen fruit being usually gathered. Large trees may yield up 2 000 fruit (FAO, 1986; Dantas de Araujo, 1995).
 

Post-harvest treatments


No information.
 

Production and consumption/utilization


The oily, mucilaginous fruit is nutritious, eaten as a famine food. Mesocarp is oily, sweet but acquired taste, eaten, mainly used as a flavouring, laxative; source of an edible oil, used to flavour the alcoholic liqueur, lico de piquí; kernel rarely eaten because of endocarp spines; source of an edible oil mainly used for flavouring (Hedrick, 1972; Menninger, 1977; FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993; Dantas de Araujo, 1995).
 

Nutritional value


No information regarding nutritional value of the kernels. Mesocarp contains 81% water, 2.7% protein, 8% fats and oils (dry pulp ca. 42% oil), 1% ash, 6.7% carbohydrates; 120 mcg carotene, also rich in vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin (FAO, 1986).
 

By-products and other uses


Kernel oil used in the cosmetic industry and locally for making soap, as an illuminant, lubricant. Wood used for construction, wooden machinery parts, furniture, fences, fuelwood and charcoal. Flowers, fruits and seeds used in local medicine. Leaves, bark and fruit pulp a tannin source. Tree grown as an ornamental (FAO, 1986; Dantas de Araujo, 1995).
 

Marketing


Sold in the local markets for local oil and soap making (Dantas de Araujo, 1995).
 

Discussion


Currently being over-exploited due to an increase in restaurants serving regional food and small-scale oil production industries. Potential as an oil crop for the drier regions of the world, being well-adapted to nutrient poor soils and long dry seasons. Local demand will have to be met by developing plantations of improved stock, better management of wild stock, including possible improvement by grafting from elite trees. There is a need for improved germplasm for larger fruit, higher oil yields. The high melting point of the kernel oil may have a potential as a cocoa butter substitute (FAO, 1986; Dantas de Araujo, 1995).
 

Castanha de galinha: Couepia longipendula, Chrysobalanaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Occurs throughout central and western Amazonia and the western Guiana shield. Adapted to heavy, infertile, clay oxisols of lowland rainforests, also occurring in periodically inundated, low lying areas (FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993; Prance, 1972, 1994).
 

Description


Large tree to 30 m or more high, trunk up to 1.8 m in diameter. Leaves simple, oblong elliptic to lanceolate, up to 16 cm long and 7.5 cm wide. Inflorescence of pendulous panicles of bisexual, white flowers. Fruit obovoid to ellipsoid drupe, 4-6 cm long, 4 cm in diameter, pubescent; epicarp peeling to reveal hard, woody, fibrous, 6 mm thick pericarp; seed with white to light green kernel, 3 cm long, 2 cm wide, testa thin, pubescent, surrounded by a thin membrane (FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993; Prance, 1972, 1994).
 

Cultivation


Occasionally cultivated, especially around Manaus; more commonly protected when swidden is opened up. Seeds germinate within weeks of falling from tree onto moist ground; viability is rapidly lost and seeds do not store easily. Early growth is rapid, later slowing and tree attaining 2-3 m in height when 4-5 years old and producing first flowers. Trials are being carried out with fertilizers and shade in order to try and overcome slow early growth (Prance, 1971; FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993).
 

Harvesting


Fallen mature fruits must be quickly harvested before they can germinate, rot or removed by small rodents and wild pigs; sometimes plucked from small trees. Trees ca. 20 years old and 7 m high yield over 1 000 nuts per year, mature trees will yield over 100 kg; kernels weigh 4-7 g and represent ca. 30% of the whole nut (FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993; Prance, 1994).
 

Post-harvest treatments


Seeds (nuts) easily extracted from the mesocarp with a knife. Dry nuts can be stored for several months but rapidly deteriorate under moist conditions and high temperatures (FAO, 1986).
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Kernels nut-like and eaten roasted or pounded and mixed with sugar and cassava flour which has a pleasant flavour resembling Brazil nuts and pomegranate pips when fresh, a Brazil nut-like flavour after short storage, date-like after a few weeks if stored moist or months if stored dry, eventually becoming rancid. Kernels also utilized by local people to extract an oil for use in cooking; seed cake slightly sweet, used in local pastries (FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993; Prance, 1994).
 

Nutritional value


Kernels are a rich source of energy and protein, containing 18% moisture when harvested and 75% of a light greenish-yellow semi-drying oil that quickly turns rancid. Oil residues contain 32.5% protein, 10.6% fibre and 8% ash (FAO, 1986; Clay and Clements, 1993).
 

By-products and other uses


Seed oil also used for soap-making. Timber heavy, hard and difficult to work, used for building, carpentry and roofing tiles. Bark source of a rough fibre. Bark and pericarp extracts used in local medicine (FAO, 1986; Prance, 1994).
 

Marketing


Nuts collected from the wild and used in rural areas. Surprisingly the nuts rarely found in the local markets despite their local abundance in the forests, their high yields and popularity. A market needs to be created (FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993).
 

Discussion


Considered worthy of future domestication (Prance, 1994). Possibility being investigated of growing the tree for nuts before cutting for hardwood (FAO, 1986).
 

Indian or tropical almond: Terminalia catappa, Combretaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Malesia and western Pacific seashores; cultivated and sometimes naturalized throughout the tropics and near-tropics. A gregarious pioneer species of sand banks and shores. Salt and drought tolerant but intolerant of wind and frost (Exell, 1954; FAO, 1982; Rosengarten, 1984; Morton, 1985).
 

Description


A deciduous or sometimes semi-evergreen tree to 15(-25) m tall with trunk to 1.5 m in diameter, often buttressed. Leaves alternate, obovate, 15-36 cm long, 8-24 cm wide, subcordate at the base and usually with 2 glands, petiole short; leaves turning red before falling and quickly replaced. Inflorescence spicate, male flowers towards the apex with hermaphrodite flowers below; flowers greenish, apetalous. Fruit a somewhat compressed-ellipsoid drupe, 4-7 cm long, 2.5-3.8 cm wide, prominently keeled along the margins; epicarp thin, green turning yellow with a reddish blush; mesocarp fleshy, 3-6 mm thick, adherent to the fibrous husk of the hard-shelled stone containing the spindle-shaped seed; seed 3-4 cm long, 3-5 mm thick, testa very thin, brown, enveloping the coiled cotyledons or kernel (Exell, 1954; Rosengarten, 1984; Morton, 1985).
 

Cultivation


Sweet fleshed and more palatable fruits selected for cultivation. Seeds have good viability and germinate readily (25% germination) when raised in nurseries. Transplanted when seedlings leafless. Fertilizers can be beneficial. Growth rate 1 m or more in ca. 2 years (Morton, 1985).
 

Harvesting


Two crops a year possible in some areas or even more or less continuous fruiting. A tree may yield ca. 5 kg of kernels per year (Morton, 1985).
 

Post-harvest treatments


Fruit hard, difficult to crack, kernels extracted by cracking the defleshed and sun-dried nuts along the keel (Menninger, 1977; Morton, 1985).
 

Production and consumption/ utilization


Outer flesh commonly eaten by children. Kernels may be eaten raw or roasted, or used in cooking as an almond substitute. Sun-dried kernels yield 38-54% of an edible, bland, yellow, semi-drying oil known as Indian almond oil, which becomes turbid and rancid on standing (Howes, 1948; Hedrick, 1972; Rosengarten, 1984; Morton, 1985).
 

Nutritional value


Air-dried kernels contain 52.0% fat, 25.4% protein, 14.6% fibre, 6% glucose and a small percentage of ash. Indian almond oil contains glycerides of palmitic acid 34.4%, oleic acid 32.1%, linoleic acid 27.5% and stearic acid 6%; it closely resembles sweet almond, cotton seed, kapok and groundnut oils and could substitute for them for dietetic and industrial uses (Morton, 1985).
 

By-products and other uses


Oilcake used as pig feed. Kernel oil used for making soap but its industrial use is limited by the difficulty in extracting the kernel. Oil is also used medicinally as are also the leaves and bark. Leaves and bark astringent and variously used medicinally; leaves also sudorific if taken internally. Bark is a source of dye; bark (25% tannin), roots and green fruits (known as myrobalans) are used for tanning. Timber tough and fairly hard, durable in water although not durable in the ground, susceptible to drywood termites; used for construction, furniture, carpentry, carts, boats, plywood and pulp. Cultivated as an ornamental and shade tree (Exell, 1954; FAO, 1982; Rosengarten, 1984; Burkill, 1985; Morton, 1985).
 

Marketing


Fruit marketed locally.
 

Discussion


A multi-purpose tree suitable for selection and further development. If the kernel market is to expand an improved method for defleshing the fruits and extracting the kernel needs to be developed (Morton, 1985). The quality of the nut needs to be compared with that of the following, T. kaernbachii.
 

Okari nut: Terminalia kaernbachii, Combretaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


From New Georgia in the Solomon Islands through New Guinea to the Aru Islands of Indonesia; relatively common and frequently cultivated tree in the lowland rain forests up to 1 000 m altitude (Coode, 1969; Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Description


Tree to 45 m with trunk up to 2.8 m in diameter, flange-buttressed up to 3 m; crown spreading; leaves clustered at end of branches, obovate-elliptic, narrowly obovate elliptic to obovate-oblong, 12-35 cm x 5-12 cm, base cuneate with 2 conspicuous black glands, apex rounded to acuminate. Fruit ellipsoid, more or less laterally compressed, 6.3-18 cm x 14.5-8.2 cm x 3.3-6.3 cm, apex slightly beaked, tomentose becoming glabrescent, plum red when ripe, slightly succulent; endocarp in cross-section with a broad band of very hard sclerenchymatous tissue including within it some large irregularly shaped and spaced air-chambers and a large cell containing the kernel; kernels white, varying in size from spindle shaped, 3 cm x 1 cm to size of small hen's egg; cotyledons 3-4, wrapped around each other (Exell, 1954; Coode, 1969; Macrae, 1993).
 

Cultivation


Easily raised from seed, but viability soon lost; attempts to introduce seed into Hawaii failed. Because of its value as food for the local inhabitants the species is usually excluded from timber agreements (Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Harvesting


Fruits picked from the trees or collected from the ground (Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Post-harvest treatments


No information.

Production and consumption/utilization


Kernels the largest known in the Combretaceae, 1.5-10 g in weight, one of the best-flavoured of the tropical nuts and a favourite article of diet among the natives, almond flavoured, mild and pleasant, source of ca. 50 g of a sweet, colourless, non-drying, edible oil, considered less oily than Canarium (Exell, 1964; Coode, 1969; Menninger, 1977; Mabberley, 1987; Verheij and Corondel, 1991; Macrae et al., 1993). Although Macrae et al. (1993) state that it can be eaten raw it is uncertain as to whether it may be eaten raw without preliminary treatment as Morton (1985) states that, unlike T. catappa, all other species of Terminalia require preliminary washing and cooking.
 

Nutritional value


Kernel contains 12.5% protein and 70% fat (Morton, 1985).
 

By-products and other uses


Wood is used for furniture but not exploited due to value of the fruit (Exell, 1954; Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Marketing


Marketed locally during the fruiting season (Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Discussion


A little known species of which T. okari is regarded as a synonym by Morton (1985). Further studies are required regarding its value as a potential nut crop. Other species (see Appendix 1) also have edible kernels but this is said to be the best flavoured. Morton (1985) recommends the more widely distributed and introduced T. catappa as worthy of further development. Verheij and Coronel (1991) consider the species has a potential as a multipurpose species, grown for its edible kernels and ultimately for its timber.
 

Cacay, inchi, tacay, taccy, nogal, arbol, arbol de nuez, pan de cada dia or orinoco nut: Caryodendron orinocense, Euphorbiaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador in the headwaters of the Orinoco; plantations in Colombia and Ecuador. Thrives in areas with temperatures ranging between 12° C and 29° C and 800-5 000 mm annual rainfall and occurs on a wide range of soils at altitudes from sea level to 2 300 m. Tolerates a few months of mild drought and withstands brief waterlogging (Reckin, 1983; FAO, 1986).
 

Description


Tree to 20(-40) m tall with small, dense and flattened crown in wild or, under cultivation, to 15 m tall with large, rounded crown. Both monoecious and dioecious trees reported. Leaves elliptic, ca. 25 cm long, 10 cm broad, somewhat leathery. Male flowers in terminal racemes, female flowers in terminal panicles, wind pollinated. Fruit a dehiscent or sometimes semidehiscent, woody capsule, 3.7-6.5 cm long, 3.2-4.5 cm in diameter, pericarp thin and brittle, seeds 3, 3-sided (Reckin, 1983; FAO, 1986).
 

Cultivation


Seeds should be preferably sown within 10 days of harvesting, reputed to fail to germinate after 35 days; distribution of plants otherwise by potted seedlings or vegetative reproduction. Shade is required in the first year, followed by full exposure to the sun on transplanting when ca. 50 cm high at onset of the following rainy season. Recommended spacing 6–10 m x 6–10 m; interplanting with Azadirachta indica and Derris spp. for source of ant-repellent insecticides is recommended (Reckin, 1983). In Colombia caterpillars are an extremely serious pest causing complete defoliation of the trees several times in a year (Clement and Villachica, 1994).

Plant growth is rapid, with fruiting usually in the seventh year when trees are ca. 7 m tall, although fruiting at 4–5 years has been reported. Average weight of nut is 8.5 g, attaining 12.5 g or more in superior selections. A 10 year old tree can yield 100-250 kg of nuts per annum, an old specimen has given ca. 800 kg. Potential for an annual production of 3 500-5 000 kg of oil per ha from trees bearing nuts with an oil content of 57% (Reckin, 1983; FAO, 1986).
 

Harvesting


Nuts ripen at the onset of the rains and either fall or are shaken off. They tend to ripen all at once and must be gathered quickly before they germinate, rot or are eaten by animals. A 10-year old tree can yield 50-90 kg of capsules per tree and large trees produce over 200 kg, although yields may vary considerably from year to year. A capsule consists of 42% seed and 29-36% edible kernel (Reckin, 1983; FAO, 1986).
 

Post-harvest treatments


Under dry conditions nuts keep for ca. 30 days in the capsule; shell damage or a moist environment can initiate enzyme reaction leading to acidification and rancidity of the oil. The nuts are easily separated from the thin shell and, when dried and roasted, they can be safely stored for a long time in sealed plastic bags (Reckin, 1983; FAO, 1986).
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Crushed nuts and milk fed to weaned children. Nuts have a pleasant flavour resembling hazel nuts. After removal of the leathery testa kernels are eaten raw, roasted, fried or ground for a drink or sweets. Nuts are source of an edible oil rich in linoleic acid (34.4%) and, once extracted, can be safely stored for a long time without turning rancid (Reckin, 1983; FAO, 1986).
 

Nutritional value


Kernel contains (33.7-)37.4-54% edible oil, 33.6% starch, 2.6% glucose, 20.0% protein, 4.5% crude fibre and 3.2% ash with a calorific value of 585 kcal per 100 g (Reckin, 1983). According to FAO (1986) the kernel contains 54-60% of a clear, light, edible oil containing 73% linoleic acid, 4% moisture and ca. 18% protein.
 

By-products and other uses


Grown as a shade tree for coffee and cacao in Colombia. Oil from shells, nuts and bark latex used as an illuminant. Nuts and oil an excellent cure for pulmonary complaints and dermatitis. Wood is not regarded as valuable or durable, used for furniture and excellent charcoal (Reckin, 1983; FAO, 1986).
 

Marketing


Nuts are sufficiently attractive to be sold in the local markets. Interest in Colombia in developing the crop to overcome the shortfall between existing production of edible oil and domestic demand (Reckin, 1983; FAO, 1986).
 

Discussion


The species is widely distributed and plantations established with little selection. Provenance surveys and trials are required for improved performance and to establish priority areas in the forest for genetic conservation (Reckin, 1983). Small germplasm collections exist at University of Naro and by Corporación Araracuara at San José de Guaviare, Colombia (Clement and Villachica, 1994). The reason for the annual variation in yield requires investigation and solution if the crop is to develop commercially.
 

Cream, paradise or sapucaia nut: Lecythis pisonis, Lecythidaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Throughout Brazilian Amazonia, Colombia, Orinoco basin of Venezuela and the Guyanas; also cultivated. It occurs in the rain forest on fertile flood plains and tolerating several months of waterlogging as well as growing on the drier oxisols of terra firma, the latter at densities between 0.2-11 trees per ha. The minimum annual rainfall requirement is 2 000 mm (Prance and Mori, 1979; FAO, 1986; Macrae et al., 1993).
 

Description


Tall deciduous tree, 30-40 m tall, trunk 60-80 cm in diameter. Leaves petiolate, simple, blade narrowly ovate to widely elliptic, 2.5-12 cm long, 1.5-5 cm wide, chartaceous to coriaceous. Flowers bisexual in small, terminal racemes. Fruit a large, woody, dehiscent, bell-shaped, pendent capsule up to 25 cm long; pericarp woody, 1-2 cm thick; a large operculum becomes detached at maturity, leaving the seeds (nuts) dangling by a slender, fleshy funicle until the funicle decays and allows the seeds to fall; seeds 30-40, irregularly oblong, resembling Brazil nuts but more rounded with thinner and softer shell, kernel white, creamy texture (Prance and Mori, 1979; Rosengarten, 1984; FAO, 1986; Mori and Prance, 1990; Macrae et al., 1993).
 

Cultivation


Seeds germinate within 7-10 days and growth is rapid, attaining 60 cm after 1 year and 4 m after 5 years. Trees begin to bear when 8-10 years old. Flowering is sporadic, some trees bearing every other year, others at 5 year intervals. Yields may be 12-20 fruits in the first fruiting year, with 81 fruits reported 2 years later. Average seed weight 5.5 g, mature trees may yield ca. 80 kg annually. Average yield for mature trees on terra firma is less than 50 fruits per year, probably more on the fertile flood plains. There are no commercial plantations reported. Attempts at grafting sapucaia onto the closely related Brazil nut and vice versa have failed (Prance and Mori, 1979; Rosengarten, 1984; FAO, 1985; Clay and Clement, 1993).
 

Harvesting


Fruit mature in ca. 18 months after flowering, when the capsule lid drops off, eventually releasing the nuts after the funicle has decayed. While suspended from the capsule the nuts are liable to be eaten by bats, parrots and monkeys, although less liable to predation around homesteads. The capsules remain attached to the tree for a long time before they too fall. The nuts can, with some difficulty, be cut down from the open capsules or gathered up from the ground, although in the latter case the majority of nuts are eaten by animals, especially monkeys and wild pigs. Average yield of nuts per tree is ca. 75 kg; fruit weigh 1-2.5 kg and contain 30-50 nuts, each weighing ca. 4-14 g. (Howes, 1948; Rosengarten, 1984; FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993).
 

Post-harvest treatments


Seed coat thin and offers little protection to disease and insects. Nuts laid on mats to dry; the kernels are rather moist and must be dried quickly, otherwise they do not store well (Howes, 1948; FAO, 1986).
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Kernels are delicious, and considered to have a superior sweet flavour to that of the Brazil nut, also more digestible; eaten raw, roasted or in confectionary, highly nutritious. Kernel yields a light yellow, almond flavoured, edible oil, the harmful seed coat being removed before extraction (Howes, 1948; Prance and Mori, 1979; Rosengarten, 1984; FAO, 1986; Macrae et al., 1993).

Nutritional value


Nuts contain 60% kernel. Highly nutritious, kernel contains 60% dry matter consisting of 51-64% oil, 16% protein, 8% fibre, 4.2% ash. Seeds likely to contain toxic quantities of selenium when grown on soils high in selenium (Prance and Mori, 1979; FAO, 1986).

By-products and other uses


Oil used locally for making soap and as an illuminant. The capsules (monkey pots) are used for domestic utensils; when tethered and baited with sugar they are used to trap monkeys who, when disturbed, are unable to open and withdraw their hands. Nuts fed locally to chickens (the vernacular "sapucaia" means chicken). The wood is not extensively used as it is tough and difficult to work; used for railway sleepers, roofing shingles, construction and general carpentry. The tough and fibrous bark consists of a succession of thin layers which can be peeled off and used locally as cigarette wrappers. Infusions of bark and pericarp used in local medicine for liver complaints. Cultivated as an ornamental (Howes, 1948; Prance and Mori, 1979; Rosengarten, 1984; FAO, 1986).
 

Marketing


Marketed locally (Howes, 1948).
 

Discussion


The enormous loss of nuts to animals has limited the exploitation of nuts from the wild. If sufficient quantities were available at the right price there would be a potential in the confectionery nut industry. Shell of fresh nuts reputed to contain a toxic substance which may affect its commercial exploitation for extracting the edible oil. There is a possibility of nut and timber production from the floodplains but more information is first required on growth rates and production (Howes, 1948; Rosengarten, 1984; FAO, 1986). Selection for high and consistent yields is required.
 

Yicib (new Somali orthography), Ye-eb or yeheb: Cordeauxia edulis, Leguminosae subfamily Caesalpinioideae

 

Distribution and ecology


Central Somalia extending into the Ogaden of Ethiopia, in semi-arid scrub; intolerant of waterlogging. Introduced on an experimental scale to Israel, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Yemen and USA for trials. The plantation established near Voi, Kenya is largely neglected but, due to the Somali political situation, is currently the sole source of germplasm. Grows in Somalia at 100-1 000 m altitude on coarse, deep red sands with a water table at 6.5-25.5 m. The daily temperature is in excess of 25° C and the mean annual temperature 26.3-30° C. The mean annual rainfall is 85-400 mm, bimodal with the two rainy seasons of varying reliability (Baumer, 1983; Wickens and Storey, 1984; Booth and Wickens, 1988; FAO, 1988).
 

Description


Many-stemmed, evergreen shrub to 2.5(-4) m tall with deep taproot. Leaves paripinnate, leaflets (1-3)4(5-6) pairs, with numerous red glands below. Flowers bisexual, yellow. Fruit a 1–4–seeded indehiscent pod, 4–6 cm long, shell fragile; seeds (nuts) globose to ovoid, ca. 12 mm in diameter (Baumer, 1983; Wickens and Storey, 1984; Booth and Wickens, 1988; FAO, 1988).
 

Cultivation


Only recently subjected to domestication. Early aerial growth slow until the massive root system is established. Nodulation observed on young plants but rhizobia not identified. Good germination with fresh seed, low viability if kept for a few months; however, seeds coated in wood ash and stored in a sack are reputed to remain viable for at least a year. Vegetative propagation possible. Direct seeding is recommended as problems exist with moving seedlings from nursery due to rapid tap-root development - in Israel roots 15 cm deep developed with only 1 cm of aerial growth.

Shrubs begin to bear well after 3–4 years. Water harvesting techniques will increase yields, however humid conditions will result in only vegetative growth. Depending on the rainfall, fruits can develop within 2 weeks from the start of the rains; fruit development is arrested when the rainfall ceases and is completed 4–5 months later when the rains start again. Note, these observations refer to Somalia where the rainfall is bimodal (Baumer, 1983; Wickens and Storey, 1984; Booth and Wickens, 1988; FAO, 1988; Cherfas, 1989; Aronson et al., 1990).
 

Harvesting


Yield ca. 5 kg of seeds per shrub. Such is the demand and free access to all range plants that the fruits often collected from the shrubs before they are fully mature (Wickens and Storey, 1984; Booth and Wickens, 1988; FAO, 1988).
 

Post-harvest treatments


Pods are opened and seeds roasted or boiled before storage to kill any insects present and to harden the shell against further insect attack (Baumer, 1983; Wickens and Storey, 1984; Booth and Wickens, 1988; FAO, 1988).
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Can be the sole sustenance in times of dearth. The delicious, chestnut flavoured seeds may be eaten raw, roasted or boiled as a vegetable; seeds may also be boiled for a sweet liquor (Menninger, 1977; Wickens and Storey, 1984; FAO, 1988).
 

Nutritional value


Seeds nutritious, with ca. 13% protein, 37% carbohydrates, ca. 11% fat, ca. 24% sugars; protein rich in lysine; fat a mixture of the saturated acids: 26-32% palmitic, ca. 12% stearic and the unsaturated acids ca. 32% oleic and 25-30% linoleic. A trypsin inhibitor is present which is inactivated on cooking. The energy value, 446 Kcal per kg, is twice that of the carob, Ceratonia siliqua, and as much as that of soya, Glycine max (National Academy of Sciences, 1979; Baumer, 1983; Wickens and Storey, 1984; Booth and Wickens, 1988; FAO, 1988).
 

By-products and other uses


A tea is brewed from the leaves. Browsed by sheep, goats and camels; when eaten as the sole diet it is reputed to cause intestinal disorders in goats. The bones of browsing animals become pink caused by cordeauxiaquinone, a brilliant red dye which is unknown elsewhere in the plant kingdom. Cordeauxiaquinone produces fast, insoluble dyes with some metals and is used as a mordant in dyeing factories. The wood is used for firewood ((Wickens and Storey, 1984; Booth and Wickens, 1988; FAO, 1988).
 

Marketing


Marketed locally with production less than demand. The yicib has the potential for development as a food resource for the semi-arid regions and a very high potential as a dessert crop (Booth and Wickens, 1988).
 

Discussion


The agronomy is little understood. There is an urgent need for a survey of the genetic potential and establishment of gene bank and provenance trials of this potentially very desirable food species. The long term effect of cordeauxiaquinone on human teeth and bones requires investigation (Booth and Wickens, 1988).
 

Tara: Lemuropisum edule, Leguminosae subfamily Caesalpinioideae

 

Distribution and ecology


Native to south west Madagascar; the precise distribution is not known due to difficulty of access but apparently confined to two disjunct populations some 60 km apart, from near Itampolo and around Lake Tsimanampetsotsa. It appears to be confined to the exposed seaward facing rocky limestone escarpment and the sandy soils immediately below, growing at altitudes between 15-100 m.

The local rainfall is bimodal, very erratic, with an annual average less than 400 m; the average temperatures of 27.4° C in summer and 19.9° C in winter. The species is currently under investigation as a potential nut crop in Western Australia (Willing,1989).
 

Description


Unarmed, multistemmed, much branched, spreading shrub up to 4-6 m tall, crown dense, branchlets sometimes spine-like. Leaves sparse, semi-persistent, paripinnate, with 1-4 pairs of oval to suborbicular leaflets, 3.5-6 mm wide. Inflorescence a raceme; flowers bisexual, with 4 white petals and 1 tinged yellow. Fruit pendent, subcylindric, depressed between the seeds, 20-30 cm long, 2 cm wide, 2-valved, valves membraneous, dehiscent; seeds 6-12, ovoid-reniform, 2.5 cm long, 1.6 cm across, testa thin and brittle (Willing,1989).
 

Cultivation


Not cultivated in Madagascar. Seeds require storage under conditions of low temperature and low relative humidity. In Australia seed sown in 20 cm long tubes; germination rapid after soaking for 10 hours. Aerial growth characteristically zigzag with rapid development of side branches requiring plants to be well spaced in nursery to prevent entanglement; root growth rapid. Plant at 4 m x 4 m spacing after 3 months. Alkaline soils preferred. After 1 year, two growth forms are noted, a spreading open bush or the less common compact, somewhat fastigiate bush (Willing, 1989).
 

Harvesting


Nuts (seeds) are harvested from the ground following dehiscence (Willing,1989).
 

Post-harvest treatments


None required (Willing, 1989).
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Nuts (seeds) eaten raw, discarding the brittle testa, the cotyledons agreeably sweet with a cashew-like flavour, smooth consistency and a flexible, rather plastic texture. Apparently not used in cooking; when eaten green the flavour reminiscent of fresh garden peas (Willing,1989).
 

Nutritional value


The nuts contain 38-43% available carbohydrates, 26-32% unavailable carbohydrates, 14-16% protein and 6-9% fat, comparing favourably with those of Cordeauxia edulis. However, the ingestion of 100 g kernels, ca. 84 raw seeds, may inhibit human production of chymotrypsin and cause digestive upsets, although this could possibly be reduced by cooking or roasting the seeds (Willing, 1989).
 

By-products and other uses


Browsed by goats when little else to eat, they also eat the seeds. Possible potential for windbreaks and hedges (Willing,1989).
 

Marketing


Apparently not sold in the local markets (Willing,1989).
 

Discussion


Survey of extent of natural populations and genetic variability, and applying measures for its in situ and ex situ conservation is required as well as investigation of its autecology. Establish provenance trials; select high-yielding, toxin-free trees and evaluate the two life forms; investigate potential for micropropagation and agronomic requirements; investigate possible potential for Mediterranean regions in addition to the arid tropics (Willing,1989).
 

Galo or promising nut: Anacolosa frutescens, Olacaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Myanmar, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, eastern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, north-eastern Sulawesi, Moluccas and the Philippines. Found in low to medium altitude forests, occurrence rare (Sleumer, 1984; Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Description


Erect shrub or tree to 25(-30) m. Leaves elliptic to elliptic-oblong or lanceolate, (6.6-)7-15(–22) cm x (3-)4-6.5(-12) cm. Inflorescence in leaf axils. Fruit a drupe, obovoid-ellipsoid to oblongoid, 1.5-2.5 cm long, 1.2-2 cm in diameter, yellow or orange, thin shelled; pulp 3.5-5.9 mm thick; seed 1 (Howes, 1948; Menninger, 1977; Sleumer, 1984; Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Cultivation


Not even grown experimentally as an orchard crop. Propagated by seed, germination takes more than 100 days. Cleft grafting of selected parent trees highly successful. Seedlings take one year to reach grafting stage (Howes, 1948; Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Harvesting


Generally harvested when mature green (Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Post-harvest treatments


No information.
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Nut resembling a filbert, kernel of good flavour and quality, eaten raw or roasted. Pulp eaten raw or boiled (Howes, 1948; Menninger, 1977; Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Nutritional value


Highly nutritious, containing 10-38.5% water, 2.9-3% ash, 10.7-11.1% protein, 7.5-8% fat, 39.5-75.5% carbohydrates, 3.7% fibre, providing 2 733 calories per kilo (Menninger, 1977; Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

By-products and other uses


Timber heavy but not durable, used for house posts (Sleumer, 1984; Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Marketing


Not known, presumably marketed locally. Found locally in backyards and forests as volunteer trees (Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Discussion


Species considered to have a potential for domestication (Mabberley, 1987). Its potential for commercial cultivation is only now being considered. There is no information regarding its cultural requirements or yields. Trees appear to be highly variable but some high yielding trees have been noted.(Verheij and Coronel, 1991).
 

Avellano, Chilean nut, Chilean hazel: Gevuina avellana, Proteaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Chile, growing in the shelter of taller trees from the snowline of the Pacific slopes of the Andes to the coast; introduced into Ireland, southwest England and California in areas with mild, moist climates. Due to the weight of foliage it requires protection from strong winds (Rosengarten, 1984; Benoit, 1989).
 

Description


An evergreen tree up to more than 15 m. Leaves pinnate, leaflets oval with toothed margins. Inflorescence racemose; flowers snow- to ivory-white, appearing from February to May in the late Chilean summer and early autumn. Fruit a drupe, coral-red, the previous year's fruits ripening at flowering time; seeds l, globular, with smooth, tough shell (Menninger, 1977; Rosengarten, 1984).
 

Cultivation


Difficult to establish due to the weak root system making it extremely sensitive to transplanting outside its native habitat (Rosengarten, 1984).
 

Harvesting


Mainly from the wild. Yield ca. 4.5 kg per tree (Rosengarten, 1984).
 

Post-harvest treatments


No information.
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Kernel similar to hazel in appearance and flavour, eaten fresh or roasted (Howes, 1948; Mabberly, 1987).
 

Nutritional value


No information.
 

By-products and other uses


Timber pale brown, light, strong and easily worked, used locally for picture frames, furniture, oars and shingles. Tree grown as an ornamental (Rosengarten, 1984; Mabberly, 1987).
 

Marketing


Marketed locally, sold roasted, in bags like peanuts. Virtually unknown elsewhere (Rosengarten, 1984).
 

Discussion


An interesting tree with a wide altitudinal range from which it should be possible to select high yielding potential cultivars. Both pulp and kernel are edible with only the thin shell of no immediate use. Verheij and Coronel (1991) consider the species ripe for commercial development.
 

Quandong or native peach: Santalum acuminata, Santalaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Disjointed distribution throughout southwest and extending into desert areas of central Australia; salt tolerant, grows in areas with an annual rainfall of 125-275 mm (Brand and Cherikoff, 1985; Rivett et al., 1989).
 

Description


Semi root parasite shrub or small tree up to 10 m tall. Leaves opposite, grey-green, ends tapering, apex shortly hooked when young. Fruit: outer flesh red, pulpy, enveloping a large, wrinkled stone (Rivett, et al., 1989).
 

Cultivation


Seeds germinate within 2 months of removal from ripe fruit. Potential for grafting and tissue culture as alternative means of propagation. Trees begin to bear in their third year with a maximum production in seventh year of 10 kg; yields up to 23 kg per tree are known. Kernel represents 40% of the total fruit weight (Rivett et al., 1989).
 

Harvesting


Fruits rattle when ripe. No information as to whether picked from the tree or collected when fallen (Brand and Cherikoff, 1985).
 

Post-harvest treatments


Unpleasant volatile methyl benzoate contained in kernels will decrease during storage; loss can be further reduced by placing kernels in a vacuum oven (Rivett et al., 1989).
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Fruit pulp may be eaten fresh but usually cooked, made into pies, jams and chutneys; kernels eaten mainly by Aborigines. Kernels eaten either raw and salted after roasting in coconut oil not considered very palatable due to the somewhat unpleasant aroma from the volatile methyl benzoate. (Rivett et al., 1989).
 

Nutritional value


Kernels have an energy value of 3 000 kJ and contain ca. 67% oil, ca. 15% protein, fibre, free sugars, together with adequate quantities of essential amino acids but some samples deficient in sulphur amino acids. High levels of santalbic acids, plus doubts about the safety of the acetylene fatty acids present, suggest that considerable caution needs to be exercised before the quandong kernels can be safely recommended for human consumption (Brand and Cherikoff, 1985; Rivett et al., 1989).
 

By-products and other uses


Timber utilized by Aborigines; used for fuel (Maconochie, 1985; Lazarides and Hince, 1993).
 

Marketing


Not marketed and product currently unsuitable for marketing without further selection for edible kernels.
 

Discussion


Very few indigenous Australian food plants have been considered for cultivation. It is currently being investigated by CSIRO with a view to commercial cultivation. Considering that the kernel accounts for 40% of the fruit and that there are problems regarding its palatability and digestibility it is doubtful whether the quandong has a potential for domestication unless improved strains can be selected or developed. Should suitable cultivars be developed there would certainly be a potential for introduction to other arid regions.
 

Argan: Argania spinosa, Sapotaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Southwestern Morocco, introduced in other Mediterranean countries; locally dominant in almost pure stands in areas receiving 100-300(-400 max) mm annual precipitation and growing on a wide range of soils, including slightly saline but not drifting sands and water-logged soils; the altitude range is from sea level to 1 500 m. Drought resistant, shedding foliage and remaining in a state of dormancy for several years during prolonged drought (Baumer, 1983; Morton and Voss, 1987; Bouachrine, 1994).
 

Description


Spiny, normally evergreen tree, 4-8(-10) tall, occasionally attaining 21 m with main trunk 1 m in diameter. Leaves clustered, lanceolate. Inflorescence axillary; flowers greenish, bisexual. Fruit an ovoid drupe, greenish-yellow; epicarp thick, bitter, gummy; mesocarp plus endocarp fleshy, containing an unpleasant (for humans) milky latex; seeds 2-3, ca. 2 cm long, united in a pseudo-kernel (Baumer, 1983; Morton and Voss, 1987; Bouachrine, 1994).
 

Cultivation


Seed polyembryonic, germinating readily and producing several shoots. Trees start to bear when 5-6 years old with maximum production at 60 years. Trees long-lived, to at least 200-250 years with some individuals believed to be over 400 years old. Trees coppice readily when cut (Baumer, 1983; Morton and Voss, 1987; Bouachrine, 1994).
 

Harvesting


Fallen ripe fruits dehydrate and pericarp becomes tough, wrinkled and difficult to remove. Fallen fruits are eaten by goats, who digest the subacid rind and eject the hard seeds during rumination, when they are gathered up. Average yield of fruit is ca. 8 kg per annum (Hedrick, 1972; Baumer, 1983; Morton and Voss, 1987).
 

Post-harvest treatments


None recorded.
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Kernels are source of an edible argan oil. After first roasting to eliminate saponins, the seeds are ground and mixed with tepid water. The oil floats and is separated by decantation. The resulting brownish, acrid and unpleasant tasting oil is allowed to stand for any residues to be deposited. The oil is then lighter in colour, strong flavoured. It may be further purified either by emulsion with water or by adding bread to produce an oil as sweet as walnut oil. Approximately 100 kg of seed yield 1-2 kg of oil and 2 kg of press cake plus 25 kg of dried "husk" (Baumer, 1983; Morton and Voss, 1987).
 

Nutritional value


Argan oil contains ca. 80% poly-unsaturated fatty acids of which 31.5% is linoleic, making it nutritionally interesting as it is one of the most important essential fatty acids in the human diet (Morton and Voss, 1987; Bouachrine, 1994).
 

By-products and other uses


Argan oil is used as an illuminant and for making a hard, yellowish soap. The sun dried cake residue after the oil has been expressed may be fed to livestock but it is not accepted by horses; it contains the slightly toxic, haemolytic saponin sapoarganine which does not harm ruminants and passes out with the urine. However, cake fed to dairy cattle will contaminate the milk, which may cause diarrhoea in children. Foliage is a valuable dry season fodder source for livestock; fruit also eaten by livestock. Timber very hard, heavy and durable, suitable for agricultural implements and building poles; the wood makes good charcoal. Brushwood used for fences. The species coppices well; a valuable shade tree, also used for soil conservation and windbreaks (Hedrick, 1972; Göhl, 1981; Baumer, 1983; Morton and Voss, 1987; Bouachrine, 1994).
 

Marketing


Argan oil was imported into Europe during the eighteenth century but, being stronger flavoured was unable to compete with olive oil (Morton and Voss, 1987).
 

Discussion


Tree endangered due to exploitation for fuel and land clearance for agriculture, with natural regeneration limited due to herbivore pressure (Morton and Voss, 1987).
 

Shea butter tree: Vitellaria paradoxa, Sapotaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


From Senegal to Cameroon through to the drier parts of equatorial central Africa and Uganda; in savannas, preferably with a shallow water table, generally between 500-1 000 (–1 200) m altitude. Grows in areas with an annual rainfall 600-1 000 mm and a marked dry season of 6-8 months or 900-1 800 mm and a shorter dry season of 4-5 months but subjected to annual burning. An annual average temperature of 24-32° C, with a minimum of 21° C and a maximum of 36° C preferred. Yields best on cultivated lands but occurs naturally on dry lateritic slopes and stony soils, it prefers dry alluvial-sandy soils rich in humus; intolerant of alluvial hollows and areas subjected to flooding (Booth and Wickens, 1988; FAO, 1988).
 

Description


Deciduous, spreading tree 15(-25) m tall, trunk up to 2 m in diameter, bark corky, fire resistant. Leaves oblong, clustered at the end of branches. Flowers bisexual, produced in the dry season before the leaves. Fruits subglobose to ovoid, 4-5 cm in diameter, with fleshy pericarp ca. 1 mm thick, exuding latex when green and turning brown when ripe; seeds 1(2–4), shiny brown with fragile husk; kernel white (Menninger, 1977; Booth and Wickens, 1988; FAO, 1988).
 

Cultivation


Natural populations are often left when land is cleared for cultivation and relatively little attention has been paid to its cultivation. Propagation by direct sowing of seed recommended as nursery seedlings do not transplant well due to the development of a long tap root. Seedlings initially slow growing due to development of root system. Recommended spacing 2 m x 8 m to 15 m x 15 m or in an 8 m triangular pattern with final stocking thinned to 30-50 trees per ha. Fertilizers possibly beneficial. Yield variable, 15–20(-45) kg per tree of fresh fruit. Annual yields in a range of 9-17 tonnes per ha optimistically predicted. In Nigeria only one tree in three produces each year. Trees start to fruit at 10-15 years, with full bearing by 20-25 years with individual yields ranging from 20-200 kg. The fruit takes 4-6 months to ripen (Booth and Wickens, 1988; FAO, 1982, 1988).
 

Harvesting


Harvest from the ground as soon as fruits fall. One person can gather ca. 45 kg in a day. The fleshy pulp rots and splits to expose the nut, the process can be hastened by burying the freshly gathered fruit for a few days in a pit. As harvesting takes place during the rainy season, a period which favours early germination, the nuts (in the shell) are often stored in huts until the dry season or when required. The amount harvested each year appears to be dependent on the price of shea butter (Menninger, 1977; Booth and Wickens, 1988).
 

Post-harvest treatments


Depulped nuts sun-dried for ca. 12 days or dried in an earth oven; the drying process results in 30-40% loss of weight. Alternatively the fruits are fermented by being kept moist for weeks or months in large earthenware jars, after which the nuts are roasted. The skin is removed to expose kernel. Decorticated kernel contains 40-60% by weight of the kernel oil known as shea butter (Menninger, 1977; FAO, 1988).
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Shea butter usually extracted by women, who pound the usually roasted kernels and then grind them to an oily, chocolate-coloured paste. The paste contains tannins and is not edible until it has been boiled and the oil skimmed off, the bulk of the impurities being removed in the scum. About 50 kg of fresh nuts will give 12 kg of dry kernels, required to yield 4 kg of shea butter.

Shea butter prepared from unroasted kernels is light yellow or sometimes tinted with a yellow dye, with a strong odour, especially when warmed. Properly prepared shea butter keeps perfectly unless adulterated with water or yam flour. The deeper the colour the stronger the odour and taste resulting from decomposition of proteins which occur in proportion to the degree of fermentation of the nuts and to over-roasting. Butter prepared from nuts subjected to little fermentation, as when nuts are lightly sun-dried without previous maceration of the pulp, is almost tasteless and odourless.

Purified shea butter is edible, used in cooking, also suitable as cocoa butter equivalent (CBE) for chocolate manufacture (Menninger, 1977; FAO, 1988)).

Fruit pulp is eaten raw, when slightly overripe, or lightly cooked after removal of seed and husk (FAO, 1988).
 

Nutritional value


Whole seed, including husk, contains 34-44% fat, the kernel 45-60% fat. The main fatty acids present in shea butter are 5-9% palmitic, 30-41% stearic, 49-50% oleic and 4-5% linoleic. The fruit pulp is rich in carbohydrates, is a good source of iron, and contains small amounts of B vitamins (FAO, 1988).
 

By-products and other uses


Fruit pulp sometimes eaten, but usually eaten by elephants, etc. Shea butter used commercially in soap, cosmetics and candles with a potential for pharmaceutical preparations. Used locally in ointments, hair dressing, waterproofing hut walls and as a soap. Oil cake residue is bitter and contains saponins but can be used as a filler for feed stuffs. Seed husk used as mulch and fertiliser. Timber heavy, difficult to work, takes a fine polish, termite resistant, used for stakes, house posts, shipbuilding and tool handles, also as source of firewood and charcoal (Menninger, 1977; FAO, 1982; Booth and Wickens, 1988; FAO, 1988).
 

Marketing


Shea butter is used mainly for home consumption especially in rural communities and is sold in the local markets as balls or pats weighing ca. 2.3-3.7 (-10) kg. In urban areas there is increasing competition from alternative imported oils such as sesame and groundnut oils. For export shea butter requires clarifying by steam to remove volatile acids and some of the odorous matter. Lightly sun-dried nuts without previous maceration of the pulp are preferred for export. Any variation in free fatty acids in the fat is mostly due to faulty handling after leaving the producer (Menninger, 1977; Booth and Wickens, 1988).
 

Discussion


Research is required on methods of establishment and general agronomy, especially with regard to plantations. Due to changing agricultural practices there is a danger that with increasing cultivation and lack of protection the natural regeneration will be inhibited. With present aging populations of trees there is a danger of a future reduction of this resource. There is a need to encourage protection and to establish plantations. Plantations could encourage more efficient, fuel-saving methods of extraction. It could lead to the establishment of large-scale oil mills in Africa, provided the current unpredictability of annual yields could be overcome (Booth and Wickens, 1988).
 

Bitter cola, kola nut: Cola nitida, Sterculiaceae

 

Distribution and ecology


Native of Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire eastward to Ghana, often cultivated elsewhere in West Africa and obscuring the natural distribution. Constituent of the lowland forest. Requires a hot, humid climate although capable of withstanding 3 or more months of dry season. It may be cultivated in drier areas where ground water is available. Introduced in Jamaica and Brazil (FAO, 1982; Purseglove, 1987).
 

Description


Evergreen tree to 15-20(-25) m tall, trunk 20-30 cm in diameter with narrow buttresses. Leaves simple, broadly oblong to broadly elliptic, up to 33 cm x 13 cm, apex abruptly and shortly acuminate. Inflorescence of axillary cymes; flowers male or hermaphrodite, apetalous, cream, usually with dark reddish markings within. Fruit consisting of 5 ellipsoid, warty follicles, up to ca. 13 cm long, 7 cm wide, each follicle containing 4-8-(10) seeds arranged in 2 rows; seeds ellipsoid, ca. 2.5 cm in diameter, red or white depending on the variety (Keay, 1958; FAO, 1982).
 

Cultivation


Propagated by seed (germination is slow, taking 2-3 months) or, preferably by cuttings. Final spacing is 10 m. Initial growth slow, reaching only 3 m in 4 years. Initial weeding is essential and interplanting with a shade tree recommended (FAO, 1982).
 

Harvesting


Ripe fruits harvested before the follicles split open, using knives mounted on long poles. Yields of 300 nuts per tree are considered good (FAO, 1982; Purseglove, 1987).
 

Post-harvest treatments


Follicles split and seeds are removed. Seeds are fermented in heaps for 5 days, after which the testa is removed and the nuts washed and cleaned. Nuts are stored in baskets lined with green leaves, which are regularly changed. Nuts may be thus stored for several months without spoiling but will require regular checking for weevil damage (Purseglove, 1987).
 

Production and consumption/utilization


The bitter tasting seeds are much appreciated by Moslems in the drier regions of West Africa, especially after Ramadan. Used as a stimulating masticatory, a beverage is prepared by boiling powdered seeds in water (FAO, 1982; Rosengarten, 1984; Purseglove, 1987).
 

Nutritional value


Seeds consist of 13.5% water, 9.5% crude protein, 1.4% fat, 45% sugar and starch, 7.0% cellulose, 3.8% tannin, 3.0% ash, also rich in alkaloids, caffeine (2.8%), theobromine (0.05%) and kolatine (FAO, 1982).
 

By-products and other uses


Widely used in West Africa for social ceremonies. A non-addictive stimulant used medically for diarrhoea and to prevent vomiting in cases of high fever; reputed to act as a water purifier. The red nuts are a potential source of food colorant. Wood is susceptible to borers; suitable for furniture, joinery and carvings (FAO, 1982; Rosengarten, 1984).
 

Marketing


Seeds important in local and international commerce, the white-seed strain preferred by the market. Industrial exploitation is mainly for the caffeine, which is used in decoctions and non-alcoholic drinks. World production of cola nuts from Cola nitida and allied species estimated as ca. 180 000 tonnes of which ca. 120 000 tonnes is produced by Nigeria and used either internally or in neighbouring countries (FAO, 1982; Rosengarten, 1984).
 

Discussion


Considering how much cola nuts are appreciated in West Africa while being virtually unknown elsewhere, there would appear to be reasonable expectations for expanding the market.
 

Sugar plum, areng palm, ejow, gomuti, kaong: Arenga pinnata, Palmae

 

Distribution and ecology


Assam to Malaysia, possibly introduced in the Philippines; widely cultivated (Menninger, 1977; FAO, 1984; Uhl and Dransfield, 1987).
 

Description


A solitary, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious feather palm to 15 m tall, stem 40 cm in diameter. Leaves pinnate, long, ascending, up to 8.5 m long. Inflorescences large, axillary, pendulous; inflorescences appearing in descending order from the uppermost leaf axil and continue for ca. 2 years until the palm is exhausted and dies. Fruit turn yellow when mature, ca. 5 cm in diameter; seeds 2-3 (FAO, 1984; Purseglove, 1985; Uhl and Dransfield, 1987).
 

Cultivation


No information.
 

Harvesting


Propagated by seed or suckers. Flowering at 7-10 years (FAO, 1984).
 

Post-harvest treatments


No information.
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Immature kernels cooked and eaten in the Philippines, or boiled in sugar and made into a sweetmeat (Hedrick, 1972; Menninger, 1977; FAO, 1984).
 

Nutritional value


Fruits contain 6.8% moisture, 7.9% ash, 16.2% crude fibre, 10.0% crude protein, 1.5% fat (FAO, 1984).
 

By-products and other uses


Stem is a source of a form of sago, which is converted into sugar when the palm first begins to flower. The male spadix tapped daily for 2-3 months for its sugary sap (ca. 3.5 litres daily), of which 9 litres is evaporated to produce ca. 1 kg of palm sugar (jaggery), palm wine or toddy, distilled for arrak; palm cabbage eaten raw as a salad or cooked. Leaf sheath source of a tough, black fibre (gomuti or yunot fibre) used chiefly for a durable rope tolerant of both fresh and salt water and fire, used for marine work and thatching; fibre also used for brushes. Leaves used for thatching; the split petioles for basketry and a form of marquetry work (Hedrick, 1972; Menninger, 1977; FAO, 1984; Purseglove, 1985; Mabberley, 1987).
 

Marketing


Sweetmeats marketed (Menninger, 1977).
 

Discussion


Regarded as the most useful of all palms (Hedrick, 1972), however, its chief economic importance is for its fibre.
 

Tucuma: Astrocaryum vulgare, Palmae

 

Distribution and ecology


Amazonia. Occurrence abundant, especially in disturbed sites (Prance, 1994).
 

Description


Tall, single-stemmed, spiny, pleonanthic, monoecious, feather palm. Fruit more or less globose (Uhl and Dransfield, 1987).
 

Cultivation


No information.
 

Harvesting


Method presumably as for A. aculeatum (FAO, 1986). Bunches pulled down with a hooked stick soon after first fruit ripens and falls.
 

Post-harvest treatments


Treatment presumably as for A. aculeatum (FAO, 1986). Nuts stored for 3 days in sacks to ripen and pulp soften slightly. They must be eaten within 3-4 days before they dry and rot where bruised.
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Mesocarp edible, juice extracted from the pulp. Kernel produces an excellent oil for cooking and soap-making (FAO, 1986; Uhl and Dransfield, 1987; Prance, 1994).
 

Nutritional value


Mesocarp rich in vitamin; fresh pulp contains 31 mg of carotene per 100 g (FAO, 1986; Prance, 1994).
 

By-products and other uses


Seed oil is used for making soap. Source of fibre from leaf epidermis, the strongest in Amazonia and possibly commercially viable, used by the Amerindians for fishing lines (Mabberley, 1987; Uhl and Dransfield, 1987; Prance, 1994).
 

Marketing


No information.
 

Discussion


Because of its abundance in disturbed areas it could have a potential for easy domestication (Prance, 1994). A genus of 50 species of which at least 40, including A. aculeatum, A. ayri, A. jauari and A. murumuru deserve further attention by economic botanists (FAO, 1986). See FAO (1986) for further information regarding A. aculeatum, which is not discussed here since its potential as an oil crop depends on the oily mesocarp, the kernel being hard and inedible.
 

Peach plum, palm chestnut, pupunha, pejibay(e) or pejivalle: Bactris gasipaes, Palmae

 

Distribution and ecology


Caribbean and Central America to Ecuador; widely cultivated, not truly known in the wild, the inferred original distribution from the Colombian Andes, eastern Peru and northwest Brazil where it occurs on slopes too steep for cultivation. Occurs in tropical rain forest to elevations of 700 (-1 500) m in areas with 2 000-4 000 mm annual rainfall and not more than 2-3 months dry season; optimum temperature 18-24° C (Menninger, 1977; Johnson, 1983; FAO, 1986; IBPGR, 1986).
 

Description


Suckering, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious, feather palm to 20 m after 10-15 plus years, often 4-5 stems are allowed from the base; flush of suckers produced from old stems after felling; shallow rooted. Nodes densely armed with 5-10 cm long black spines, leaf sheath normally with spines; a new leaf normally produced every 2-4 weeks, typically 10-13 fronds per main stem. Flowers insect pollinated. Fruit ca. 5 cm in diameter, firm textured, dry and mealy, pale orange to yellow or red when ripe, skin soft; 1-seeded, seed conical and somewhat angular, ca. 2 cm long; mesocarp thin, dry, mealy; endocarp thin, hard, black; kernel white, hard (Menninger, 1977; Johnson, 1983; Purseglove, 1985; FAO, 1986; IBPGR, 1986; Uhl and Dransfield, 1987).
 

Cultivation


Suited to the wet tropics. Propagation by seed or from basal suckers, spacing at 5.5 m x 5.5 m. Palms for palm heart production planted at 1.5-2 m spacing. It begins bearing at 3-4 (-8) years and continues production for 50-75 years. Usually only 2-4 basal suckers are allowed to develop, the others being removed. The palm, once established, requires little care and yields well, with up to five bunches of fruit per tree, each weighing ca. 14 kg. Fruit takes about 6 months to mature and will remain on the tree for long periods in good condition; individual fruits weigh 29-100 g, nuts ca. 3 g. Yield of edible fruit 3.4 t dry fruit per ha per year. Domesticated seedless varieties exist, the fruits (pejibaye macho) composed entirely of fibrous pulp (Menninger, 1977; Johnson, 1983; Purseglove, 1985; FAO, 1986; IBPGR, 1986). Palms are grown as shade trees for cocoa and coffee (IBPGR, 1986).
 

Harvesting


Bunches of fruits are cut using knives on long poles or by climbing up the spiny trunk. Yields can be as high as 250 kg per tree and 30 tonnes per ha. Stems may be tapped for a palm wine (coquillo) and suckers (ratoons) for palm hearts (FAO, 1986; IBPGR, 1986; Duke, 1993).
 

Post-harvest treatments


Fruits can be stored for 10-14 days in a dry room. Fruit is sometimes canned. Seed separates readily from pulp after boiling (Menninger, 1977; IBPGR, 1986).
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Staple food for tribes in lowlands of Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Fruits are boiled in salty water for ca. 3 hours, peeled and after removal of the seeds, eaten, strongly resemble chestnuts in appearance and flavour; highly nutritious and an important item of diet for rural people. Extracted starch is used as a substitute for maize flour for making tortillas, a staple food in Central America; cooked flesh may also be fermented to produce a beer (chicha). Kernel is starchy and oily, resembles coconut in flavour. The oily kernels may be eaten; also a commercial source of oil on boiling. Poor quality fruits may be fed to pigs (Menninger, 1977; Purseglove, 1985; IBPGR, 1986; FAO, 1986; Mabberley, 1987; Uhl and Dransfield, 1987).
 

Nutritional value


The chestnut-like fruit is regarded as probably the most nutritionally balanced of tropical fruits; has twice the protein content of the banana and can produce more carbohydrate per ha than maize. The composition of the fruit varies enormously from 19-93% mesocarp, 18-66% dry matter, 3.1-14.7% protein, 2.6-61.7% oil, 33.2-88.8% starch, 1.8% ash and 1.6% fibre. The boiled flesh contains ca. 48% water, 3% protein, 7% fat, 41% carbohydrate and 0.8% ash. Oil composition is similar to that of oil palm (Menninger, 1977; Purseglove, 1985; FAO, 1986).
 

By-products and other uses


Canned palm hearts exported from Costa Rica. Leaves used for thatching. Fibre (palmiti) is of commercial importance in Costa Rica. Outer 2.5-5 cm of stem are a source of a very hard timber used for carpentry and building, the split stems used for reinforcing concrete; hardened stems are used for long bows and attractive black floor slabs. It has potential as an energy crop from developing combustible oil and alcohol from the starch (Johnson, 1983; FAO, 1986; IBPGR, 1986; Duke, 1993).
 

Marketing


Fruit marketed locally. The fresh fruit has a shelf life of 1 week, suggesting some form of preservation necessary for longer storage (10-14 days in a dry room, IBPGR, 1986). Canned fruit introduced in Costa Rica, but a more desirable and improved product required if canning is to develop further (Johnson, 1983; FAO, 1986).
 

Discussion


Despite its qualities, pejibaye is a minor crop cultivated by the small-holder rather than on a plantation scale; rarely grown outside Central and northern South America and the Caribbean (IBPGR, 1986). Its local importance as a staple food suggests that it could be introduced elsewhere in the humid tropics (FAO, 1986). Fruit quality and absence of spines were characters selected during domestication, otherwise very little work has been done on improvement. Priority in any breeding programme is suggested for fibre production because it is already a commercial proposition. Other programmes may consider oil production, protein and carotene rich pulp for human and animal consumption, and flavour (IBPGR, 1986).
 

Babassu, babacu palm or aguassú: Orbignya phalerata, Palmae

 

Distribution and ecology


Babassu palm grows wild in disturbed areas throughout more than 100-150 000 km2 from the Atlantic Ocean to Bolivia and especially in Maranhao, Bahia and northern Minas Gerais and Mato Grosso. The annual rainfall is 1 200-2 500 mm with a 4-6 months dry season. Soils range from well-drained upland soils to gallery forest, although in severely flooded areas it occurs in elevated, non-flooded areas. A high light demander, and therefore only dominant in disturbed areas (Menninger, 1977; FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993)
 

Description


Solitary, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious, feather palm with trunk up to 30 plus m tall. Leaves 10-25, pinnate, up to 9 m long. Inflorescences variously male, female or bisexual. Bunches of fruit up to 1 m long, weighing 14-90 kg and containing (100-)200(-600) fruits; fruit ellipsoid, 5-15 cm long, 4-9 cm, in diameter resembling a small coconut, weighing 150-200 g; epicarp fibrous, 1-4 mm thick; mesocarp mealy, dry, 2-12 mm thick; endocarp woody, 35-75 mm in diameter, containing (1-)3-6(-11) seeds; seeds ellipsoid, flattened, 2–6 cm x 1-2 cm (Menninger, 1987; FAO, 1986; Uhl and Dransfield, 1987; Clay and Clement, 1993).
 

Cultivation


Collected solely from the wild. Groves thinned to ca. 100 trees per ha in order to increase yields. Seeds may remain dormant within the nut for years provided they are not attacked by Coleopteran larvae. Fire or heat may be necessary to break dormancy; separate kernels may germinate within a few months. Early growth is slow, concentrating initially on an extensive root system and consequently requiring large bags if grown in a nursery. The palms begin to bear when 8-12 years old. Populations reduced to 80 juvenile and young fruiting palms considered suitable for intercropping and grazing by livestock. The use of fertilizers to increase productivity is still at the trial stage (FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993).
 

Harvesting


Fallen nuts collected after drying for a few weeks; they may also be dislodged from the bunches with sticks or the whole bunch cut down. The fine silicate crystals falling off the fruit can cause serious eye damage to the collectors. Wild groves can yield 1.5-2.5 tonnes per ha but, where the groves are thinned yields range from 7–30 tonnes per ha with an average of 16 tonnes. Individual trees with 7 bunches, each bunch of 600 nuts and weighing up to 90 kg are known (FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993).

Present harvesting practice results in only ca. 25% of a potential 8 million MT fruit crop being harvested. More efficient harvesting involves cutting the mature infructescences just after the fruits have begun to fall, in addition to the gathering of fallen fruit. The introduction of a more effective transport system involving transport to collecting points by pack animals and onward by trucks to the village processing area is necessary (Pinheiro and Ferro Franzão, 1995).
 

Post-harvest treatments


Nuts extremely hard, difficult to crack. Skilled workers manually place nut in a cleft of stones and split open with a heavy hatchet, the operation repeated several times to release all kernels. In an alternative method nut is rested on an axe head held between the feet and hit with a heavy cudgel. A skilled worker can obtain 5-8 kg of whole kernels (Pinheiro and Ferro Franzão, 1995) or 2.3 kg of clean kernels (Clay and Clement, 1993) a day by this method (Menninger, 1977; FAO, 1986).

A village scale cooperative industry is being developed using simple dehusking machines to separate the husk and mesocarp from the endocarp, and a breaking machine to crack the endocarp to extract the seeds, and a machine to separate broken endocarp from the kernels. Local presses are then used to extract the oil and small kilns to make charcoal and to extract tars (Clay and Clement, 1993; Pinheiro and Ferro Franzão, 1995).
 

Production and consumption/utilization


Whole kernels sometimes are chewed but usually pounded for the cold extraction of a milk substitute or hot extraction with boiling water for oil. Kernel contains 60-70% oil which is rich in lauric acid, similar in composition to that of Cocos nucifera (coconut) and Elaeis guineensis (African oil palm). Fresh oil is used for cooking, refined oil for margarine. The starchy mesocarp is used locally as an emergency flour substitute (FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993).
 

Nutritional value


Kernels contain 1.2% water, 66.1% oil, 7.2% protein, 6% fibre, 2% ash and 14.5% carbohydrates (FAO, 1986).
 

By-products and other uses


Broken kernels are fed to pigs as they are unsuitable for oil extraction by the oil factories because the oil quickly becomes rancid. Most of the industrial meal is exported to Europe for dairy cake. Seed oil is excellent for soap production because of its high (45%) lauric acid content. The epicarp (ca. 15% of the fruit) is a primary fuel source. The mesocarp (ca. 20% of the fruit) is a potential source of industrial starch, glucose or alcohol. The endocarp (ca. 59% of the fruit) is an important source of high grade charcoal for the steel industry as well as source of distillation by-products such as tar, acetic acid, methane, etc.; also has a potential use as a substrate for hydroponics. Nut waste is also used locally as a fuel for cooking and to repel insects. Palm hearts edible, the waste being fed to horses. Peduncle can be tapped for palm wine. Trunks used for construction purposes. Leaves used for thatch and basketry; leaf petioles used for laths for windows and adobe walls; unfortunately the reduvid or kissing bug that transmits the vector of Chagas disease that normally shelter in the crevices of the leaf petioles would move to the house walls. Decayed stems and leaves used for mulch. Leaves and liquid endosperm used in local medicine (Menninger, 1977; FAO, 1986; Clay and Clement, 1993; Pinheiro and Ferro Franzão, 1995).
 

Marketing


Present kernel production is insufficient for developing an efficient seed oil industry (Pinheiro and Ferro Franzão, 1995).
 

Discussion


An important source of oil for margarine and cooking oil during the First World War and again during the Second World War, when kernel exports peaked at 40 000 tonnes (26 000 tonnes oil). Exports fell to zero by the mid-1960s, although, depending on the international prices, occasional exports are still processed. Since 1965, the Brazilian soap and cosmetic industries have absorbed all babassu oil production (ca. 150 000 tonnes in 1985). It is also Brazil's major source of lauric acid. The potential for developing babassu plantations to provide charcoal for the pig-iron foundries requires investigation; the fine grained charcoal has the disadvantage of requiring pressing and gluing into briquettes before shipping and use. It is an extremely important palm in the subsistence economy, being a source of income, food and oil, timber, fibre, medicine, etc., for the indigenous population. Little attention has been paid to developing the species because of the availability of large, albeit low yielding, natural populations. There is a considerable potential for improving yields by selection and develop appropriate agronomic practices, especially in the drier areas that are unsuitable for other oil producing palms. The labour intensive, low productivity kernel extraction is the limiting factor in developing a commercial oil industry (FAO, 1986; Mabberley, 1987; Clay and Clement, 1993; Pinheiro and Ferro Franzão, 1995).
 

Figures


Fig 17. Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra. 1: leaflet. 2: habit. 3: flower. 4: cross section of ovary. 5: fruit.

Fig 18. Pachira aquatica. 1: leaf and fruit. 2: seeds.

Fig 19. Canarium indicum. 1: branch with leaves and flowers. 2: fruit.

Fig 20. caryocar brasiliense. 1: longitudinal section of fruit. 2: fruiting branchlet. 3: leaves and inflorescence.

Fig 21. Couepia longipendula. 1: fruit. 2: leaves and  flowering branchlet.

Fig 22. Terminalia catappa.

Fig 23. Terminalia kaernbachii. 1: branchlet with leaves and inflorescence. 2: branchlet with fruits.

Fig 24. Caryodendron orinococense. 1: leaves and fruit. 2: female flower. 3: male flower. 4: longitudinal section of fruit.

Fig 25. Lecythis pisonis. 1: leaves. 2: ovary 3-4: stamens. 5: androecium. 6: fruit and operculum. 7: transverse section of ovary. 8: seed.

Fig 26. Cordeauxia edulis. 1: flowering branch. 2: flower 3: petal. 4: stamen 5: apex of stile and stigmas. 6: fruit. 7: fruit. (nut) 8: seed with outer coat removed.

Fig 27. Gevuina avellana. 1: branch with leaves and inflorescence. 2: fruit. 3: cross section of fruit.

Fig 28. Santalum acuminata 1: branch with leaves and fruits. 2: branchlet. 3: fruit. 4: open fruit showing the seed.

Fig 29. Argania spinosa. 1: fruiting branch. 2: fruit.

Fig 30. Vitellaria paradoxa. 1: leafy shoot. 2: inflorescence. 3: section of corolla. 4: section of corolla with staminodes removed. 5: corolla segment and stamen. 6: staminode from another flower. 7: ovary. 8: longitudinal section of ovary. 9: seeds. 10 fruit.

Fig 31. Cola nitida. 1: leaves. 2: inflorescence. 3: fruit. 4: seed.

Fig 32. Arenga pinnata. 1: part of pinnate leaf. 2-3: sections of inflorescence bearing fruits. 4: longitudinal section of fruit. 5: transverse section of fruit.
 

Photos:


Photo 3: Shea butter tree, Vitellaria paradoxa

Photo 4: flowers of Vitellaria paradoxa

Photo 5: A grove of Bactris gasipaes

Photo 6: Fruits of Bactris gasipaes ready for marked

Photo 7: Babassu (Orbignya phalerata) palm in fruit

Photo 8: Crude process of making charcoal from babassu shell.