Cabbage palm, pina palm, asai, palmier pinot, juçara, açai, palmito açai, asaí, manaca, palmiche de rio negro.
Acaí is a pencil-like palm with drooping pinnate leaves, indigenous to the Amazon rainforest, growing up to a height of 65 feet. There are both male- and female flowers on the same tree and the seeds germinate easy. The diameter of the trunk is no more than 7 - 9 inch. The açaí palm is a fast grower and more of a cespitose palm (palms growing in small dense clumps or tufts) with multiple stems, growing in flooded areas (swamps). The fruits are round berries, purple-black at maturity, and hang in bunches of 700-1,000 with a weight of up to 120 lbs. The harvest period is from July to March.
The pulp is edible and used in beverages. The palm heart of the açaí palm is delicious and exported from Brazil, Suriname and Guyana to countries all over the world. The açaí fruit, which is about the size of a blueberry, contains vitamins and minerals: many of the B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, iron, potassium, phosphorus and calcium. It also contains antioxidants and phytochemicals (anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, resveratrol). It works against cholesterol problems and gives lots of energy. It has a high percentage of dietary fibers.
The health benefits of the açaí fruit made news in the United States since Dr. Perricone included the açaí in his list of one the ten most important superfoods in his appearance in the Oprah show. There is an array of websites selling açaí in the form of juice and capsules in the internet today and a bottle of açaí juice can cost up to $40.00.The following article by CNN refutes the claim that açaí is "the miracle berry:" http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/23/acai.berries.scam/
The açaí seed is very popular in Brazil in the making of jewelry. It is an easy seed to dye and it can be found in all colors. The size of the seed is about 8mm to 10mm and its natural color is ivory. The irregular roundness of the seed is its charm -- a row of açaí seed is not uniform, it has "movement." The small vertical marking found in every seed is another characteristic. For the following necklace I dyed the seeds in different shades of beige and the effect is beautiful:
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